Print them and they will come: the 3-D house
While 3D-printing has been talked about for a while now, where home building is concerned, it’s a phenomenon whose time is due. With home prices surging due to lack of inventory and builders fretting over the cost of building materials, 3D-printed homes now means the homebuilding industry is on the edge of a revolution, according to CNBC’s Diana Olick.
Olick describes how 3D-printing technology was used to build a 900-square-foot model home on Long Island. But its builder, Kirk Anderson, is about to build another (even more important) one – the first 3D-printed home in the United States to be marketed to the public.
“The new home will be slightly larger at 1,500 square feet and will feature three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage. It is listed at just under $299,000, about half the price of a comparable newly built home in the area,” says Olick. “Demand is off the charts,” says a local Long Island Realtor.
The maker of the homebuilding feast, Andersen is director of operations at SQ4D, a New York-based company with barely a dozen employees. Olick explains how, while other companies have 3D-printed small structures that are being used to house the homeless, Andersen’s firm is the first company using the technology specifically for the for-sale market. That meant scaling up their robotic printer, doing lots of testing, then printing up the foundation, interior, and exterior walls and utility conduits for the model home. They did that in just two days.
How does it look? “Like a massive spout squeezing out concrete toothpaste in long lines, but the result is an incredibly solid, resistant structure. The raw walls look a bit like concrete corduroy, but they can be smoothed depending on the buyer’s tastes,” says Olick. “It requires little labor to build, and the price is low — two potentially attractive points as the industry contends with a severe labor shortage and high material costs. And instead of using costly lumber, they used concrete, which is far cheaper.
“We’re trying to build homes and houses in half the time for half the price,” said Andersen in the article. “Our profits will be higher and we will be able to show that with more projects that we do.” But there will be red tape barriers, as there always are for new technology no one knows how to deal with. Getting permits won’t be easy. Andersen will need to work with local officials, teaching them about the process and the potential, while dealing with zoning regulations for this first batch of printer-made homes.
As for the first prototype, there are already multiple offers on the house, some from regular buyers, others from investors. Andersen said he has also gotten a lot of interest from developers who want him to build 3D housing developments. He sees this as being involved in an important piece of history, staying local at first but looking ahead as well, hoping to take the concept to places like Florida and California, proving this can be done anywhere.
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