Among the many real estate trends that became popular in the past year, 3D printed homes stand out due to their affordability and practicality.
Table of Contents
- What Are 3D Printed Homes?
- How Are 3D Homes Built?
- What Are the Benefits of 3D Printed Homes?
- What Are the Drawbacks of 3D Printed Homes?
- How to Buy a 3D Printed Home: 5 Things You Should Know
- Is Now the Best Time to Invest in 3D Printed Homes?
A few years back, the idea of 3D printed homes sounded like a futuristic concept. We can now comfortably say that we’re living in the future. Many technology and real estate companies are now working to test and build 3D printed homes.
In today’s article, we’re going to explore the topic and see why 3D-printed homes might be the next big thing in real estate.
What Are 3D Printed Homes?
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has grown from its initial applications in rapid prototypes to the fully-fledged manufacturing process it is today. For a long time, the technology was used to produce many things in diverse industries, from dental implants to jet engine spare parts. When it comes to hitting the construction industry, it was a matter of when not if.
In layman’s terms, 3D printed homes are built by depositing construction material on every layer. A nozzle mounted on a huge steel framework is used to release a concrete mixture in the form of paste to create walls from the ground up layer by layer.
While its application in the real estate industry is still in its developing stages, 3D printing offers a lot of potential. The technology is promising immense effects, with the results already catching the mainstream’s media attention.
To understand why the technology is important, let’s look at the process of building 3D-printed homes.
How Are 3D Homes Built?
Firstly, there must be large-scale 3D printers that can either print the walls on-site or create prefabricated walls in a factory, which are then transported to the site. If you choose to print the walls on-site, you’ll only transport the printer to the site instead of moving heavy concrete walls.
Currently, 3D printers are only suitable for single-family homes since they only print one-story walls. However, engineers are exploring the possibility of getting printers that can print up to three-story walls in the future.
Depending on the location, the walls can be made hollow for insulation. The walls can also include additional columns and beams for extra strength if you’re located in an area with strong winds and hurricanes. You can add an extra column between the inner and outer walls for additional strength during earthquakes.
While you can currently only use concrete to construct 3D printed houses, you’ll be able to use more materials such as clay or plastics in the future.
Related: Are Single Family Homes a Bad Real Estate Investment?
What Are the Benefits of 3D Printed Homes?
Now you may be asking, “Do 3D printed homes deserve the kind of hype they’re receiving?” Let’s look at some of the advantages that make us believe the said real estate technology is the next big thing.
Real estate investors and home construction companies are able to save a significant amount of time by 3D printing a house compared to building using traditional methods. The actual time frame actually depends on the size of the project. However, in most cases, the entire process will only take a few days.
For example, let’s look at Icon Build, an American 3D construction startup. The company was able to develop a technology to build a one-story house measuring 650 sq. ft. home in 24 hours. Even developed countries like China and Russia are embarrassed by Icon 3D printed homes.
Keep in mind that the technology is still in the works. It means that there’s a higher chance that construction will eventually take much less time once the technology is perfected.
Less Labor Needed
3D printers tend to do most of the construction work, hence requiring fewer laborers compared to traditional construction sites.
Think of all the steps involved when using traditional construction methods. Home construction companies will need full-time workers to transport, unload, and mix all the materials before assembling and erecting the structures.
On the other hand, 3D printed homes Colorado only need a handful of workers to monitor the 3D printer and control the building process. For example, a 2,000-sq-ft home will only require three people on the site. If traditional building methods were being used, you’d need to employ at least 20 manual laborers.
Also, think about how many work-related injuries happen in the construction industry annually. Statistics show that one in five worker deaths in the US happens in the construction industry annually. If the majority of construction projects utilized 3D construction, the figure would go down significantly.
The above information shows how much 3D printers automate the construction process and why there’s much potential in the field.
3D home construction is arguably much cheaper compared to traditional construction methods. However, the matter is debatable since the huge 3D printers are quite expensive and are subject to some limitations. However, we can still argue based on some facts.
We’ve already seen that 3D printed homes take less time to construct. Time is money. Less time spent on the construction site means that the workers and equipment will be available for other projects sooner.
A 3D printed home can reduce labor costs by up to 80% by getting most of the work done by the 3D printer. It almost doubles the construction capacity. Construction companies may save up a lot of money on worker wages.
On top of that, the raw materials needed for 3D houses printers can be gathered onsite. It reduces the amount of cash needed to source, store, and transport them to the site.
Related: Construction and Property Management: 5 Tech Solutions That Are Taking the Industries Forward
Diverse Design Applicability
Modern architecture and construction encourage innovation and creativity. 3D construction technology allows the implementation of unique designs that would otherwise be too expensive or impossible with traditional construction techniques.
Some construction experts say that professionals who want to get the most out of 3D construction technology must consider the high degree of freedom of design that the technology offers. 3D printing allows construction companies to produce complex designs, shapes, and forms.
For example, a 3D printer creates complex curved walls just as easily as simple straight ones. Modern architecture can boost a building’s appeal from the outside and even maximize interior spaces.
When it comes to energy and material usage, the construction of 3D printing homes is considerably more efficient compared to the traditional construction methods.
Since 3D-printed buildings only use the needed amount of materials to build a home, they generate less waste. You’ll not find waste from carving or cutting materials. In case there’s any leftover material from the concrete, it can be used in the next building project. They improve material efficiency since the feedstock can be created out of recycled materials.
3D printed houses consume considerably less energy in comparison to the entire production chain of the traditional building method. Think about all the energy that goes into the conventional construction method, such as transporting the building materials and moving crews of builders. 3D construction technology eliminates the need for all that and is sustainable in the long term.
What Are the Drawbacks of 3D Printed Homes?
While 3D printed homes California provide many positives and excellent potential, there are a few drawbacks associated with the technology. Here are some of the challenges of 3D printed houses:
Hard to Find Raw Materials
Many people using 3D printers to build a home are noting that it’s hard to come across the raw materials needed for the said technology. 3D printers don’t use the same materials used in traditional construction methods.
In addition, most of the 3D printers require specific construction materials yet the materials are very few. For example, if you need to build using wood and steel components, a 3D printer might not accommodate your construction.
You’re also likely not to use the same materials in two different 3D printers.
Laws and Regulations
When it comes to building codes, there are currently no efforts or processes to get 3D printed buildings approved for commercial or residential purposes. Even if the government starts such efforts, they first need to come up with construction standards for structural integrity, plumbing, electrical, and public safety codes. It means that it would take some time before the laws and regulations are in place.
Slump in Manpower Demand
In the digital age, many jobs worldwide are already suffering from the impact of automation. Once 3D printing in the construction industry becomes properly developed, it’s certain that it’s going to affect manpower in many housing markets. Many construction workers will be left in a compromising situation.
In the traditional building methods, you don’t need any specific set of skills to get employed. With 3D printed homes, you must possess specialized skills, such as operating the 3D printers. The average construction worker doesn’t possess such skills.
The effect will not only be felt by construction workers. Professionals who supply building materials will be forced out of work or to adapt since there will be a demand for different materials for building a house.
While modern construction technology is becoming more popular as the days go by, very few architects and engineers take interest in 3D building technology. The additional capabilities that come with 3D home printers aren’t being implemented in the design stage. It is going to be a problem since traditional blueprints aren’t compatible with 3D printers. The entire design process must be handled differently.
Related: 6 Reasons to Use Smart Technology to Add Value to Your Investment Property
How to Buy a 3D Printed Home: 5 Things You Should Know
After looking at the benefits and drawbacks of 3D printed houses, you may now be interested and wondering how you can own such trailblazing properties. Luckily, Icon Build partnered with Lennar 3D printed homes to bring you the largest community of 3D printed Texas homes. The properties are built using the latest robotics, advanced materials, and software.
So, what should you check for when buying 3D printed homes for sale?
Just like traditionally constructed homes, there are a few steps you need to go through to ensure your investment is worth it. Firstly, even though the home might be new, never skip a home inspection. Remember, even if the 3D printed homes company did a perfect job, interior materials such as plumbing systems and electrical appliances need to be installed later. Installation mistakes may happen even in perfectly built properties.
Here are some common issues found in 3D printed homes:
- HVAC problems, such as loose connections, dirty ducts, or faulty thermostats
- Plumbing issues like leaks
- Defective electrical work, such as damaged wiring
- Drainage issues if your 3D house was constructed on improper soil
- Shrinkage cracks if the concrete wasn’t properly mixed (this should be a priority during inspection because most 3D construction involves concrete)
The above issues are why inspecting 3D printed homes is important since such problems won’t appear on the disclosure statement.
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Is Now the Best Time to Invest in 3D Printed Homes?
3D printed homes are becoming more popular every year. This technology offers great potential and a lot of benefits. Though the possible downsides can’t be ignored, it’s still a developing concept that might take the entire construction and real estate industry by storm.
We can confidently say that now is the best time to invest in 3D-printed houses. Make sure you use Mashvisor tools to manage the risks involved.
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