A geodesic dome for your event can be a tricky thing. Here we outline the main co0nsiderations involved.
What you should ask
Ask where they are located, about shipping and setup services
This is the most important question to ask.
Logistically, financially, this make no sense at all to obtain an event dome from the West coast if you are located in Florida; you are paying a very high premium that could be avoided. Often an event dome vendor will attempt to convince you only their crew can set up the event dome. The distance between your location and the supplier could easily cost as much as the event dome itself.
Ask if they manufacture the event dome themselves
Many who sell or rent event domes are actually resellers or agents; they never even touch the event dome themselves. So if a problem arises you have to go through the agent who then goes to the supplier. If the supplier is overseas this could be a problem if there are no event domes in stock. Then you need to account for shipping across the ocean and maybe also across a continent. If you don’t ask, they won’t tell you.
Make absolutely sure whether your event dome vendor actually has or can make event domes locally. One supplier flooding the web with ads claims to have many branches when in fact it is the same company with agents.
Get three (3) quotes
This is standard procedure for most companies looking to make a sizable purchase. The secret in getting the best seller at the best price is to ask as many questions as you can think of, such as those we are listing here.
Keep in mind that a glossy magazine or brochure is not necessarily an indication of competence. Always keep in mind that the event dome is a structure, no more, no less. When you see thousands of people around a dome, that’s because the planners did a good job. In other words, when you see those beautiful dome images at festivals and events, remember that you as the client should get the credit.
Rental or purchase?
Many clients consider renting as preferred over purchasing an event dome.
But when you add up the total cost, you may come to the conclusion that it would make good financial and public relations sense to purchase the event dome outright.
The justification for this is as follows: event dome sellers charge almost or above the cost of manufacturing on rental. As a loose rule, i f you rent a dome for more than a week, you are close to the full purchase price. And to hedge your bet, you can sell the dome, rent it out, or even give it to a charity which will generate a tax break and give you free advertising every time the dome is set up (as long as you have your logo showing on the geodesic cover).
Some may wonder about storing the dome until it is used again; in reality a dome takes little space. Most companies or even small businesses can easily find space for it.
And the biggest concern for those who purchase the event dome? Who will set it up?! We can help you with this by referring you to people who know how to do this. Basically you need one experienced foreman and the other workers can be locally sourced, though it does go faster with more than one dome expert.
Ask if your own people can be trained to do the setup themselves
This is a tricky question since the answer varies considerably from one client to the other.
If you have the luxury of time to set up, then you do not need a full setup crew to be flown in and fed. In large event domes for example, heavy machinery is used and so you can get experienced boom and lift operators locally. As for other workers, they do not need to be experts; construction workers are a good idea. By using locals you are training them for the next event dome setup.
Ask what upgrades there are
This is where many do not ask what extras, options and upgrades are offered. Often this leads to ugly surprises. Many present you with a basic package then up-sell you. Actually they count on those extras.
Have everything written down for your project so the event dome vendor can give you an accurate quote and to avoid surprises. An event dome vendor cannot always know everything about your project.
An example of an upgrade is the ventilation equipment. You may start discussing a dome in March for a summer event, and so heat buildup in a dome may not be an obvious concern. And that same ventilation issue may lead you to also ask if the top part of the event dome cover can be removed during certain times or events.
Ask about engineering certification
This is a critical factor for anyone considering the rental or purchase of an event dome. If a supplier cannot or will not help in providing structural certification, then this is a bad sign. Certification for an event dome is an extra expense for the client, but a responsible vendor should be ready to help you obtaining the engineer’s seal for your location.
What you need to do
Contact your local city, county and state authorities
The specific requirements vary significantly from one area to the other. The event dome is only the beginning. You will need to obtain occupancy permits, fire safety certification, most probably a permit for your event among other pieces of information.
If your event dome supplier tells you this is an easy process, run away! This is a bureaucratic and safety process not to be taken lightly. For example, a geodesic event dome requires to be grounded securely, meaning you will need to secure it to the ground with weights around its perimeter. If a sudden gust of wind blows in, an event dome is likely to lift unless proper securement is installed. Some areas make ask you to add considerably more weight to hold down the structure.
Inquire with your insurance company about coverage for your event.
You should also inquire about your dome supplier’s liability coverage. This is important because if the company supplying the event dome is not the actual supplier of the structure, this can cause serious problems if something goes wrong. It should be noted that a geodesic event dome is by far superior to the traditional tent when it comes to possible dangers such as strong wind and rain. It should also be noted that a geodesic dome is not a typical structure for an event and this can have an impact as to how authorities view it as a venue.
Ask the authorities what documentation you will need
Be ready to submit to supply local authorities with plans and certifications. And don’t forget about zoning by-laws on the grounds for your event!
Although your event dome supplier can provide certifications for the structure and for fire retardancy among other documents (engineer certification is an additional cost), authorities overseeing your event will also want them. You may be asked questions which are not obvious such as how to ventilate and the use of electrical power.
This checklist will be revised regularly to inform as best we can.