Are you ready to buy a 3D printed house? | Business

TALLAHASSEE, Florida

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home has a corduroy patterned exterior, rounded corners, and a pour of cement oozing out of an industrial-sized tube of toothpaste. And most intriguing of all, it comes from a 3D printer.

When the house is completed around November, Kyndra and James Light, a husband-wife development team, will ask for between $ 175,000 and $ 225,000 for the 1,440-square-foot unit.

Printed homes are said to be faster to manufacture, stronger, and resistant to hazards such as mold, high winds, and flooding. And most crucially of all: they seem ready to offer affordable housing.

But to see for yourself, you’ll have to travel to Tallahassee to inspect the home, which the Lights say is the only 3D printed home allowed in Florida.

Manufacturers of items as diverse as face masks, jewelry, jet engines, construction equipment, and even guns use 3D printing. It is a method of developing a three-dimensional object, layer by layer, through the use of computer-generated designs.

The process of building 3D homes is similar, but the printer itself looks less like those increasingly common in workplaces and more like an oversized car wash.

The printers weigh almost a few tons, cost between $ 500,000 and $ 700,000, and include sophisticated computer programs to control the construction.

They relay instructions to racks, which can range in size from 10 feet long by 10 feet high to 100 feet by 100 feet. Attached to the racks is a spout, which moves back and forth across the site directing the premixed cement according to the design. The mixture then hardens into a concrete structure.

“Make no mistake, these homes aren’t your average test models,” said Lights, owners of Precision Building & Renovating. “The finished product is far superior in terms of strength, durability and efficiency. “

From coast to coast, 3D printed homes are gaining ground as a possible alternative to making housing more affordable in cities plagued by soaring prices and dwindling inventory. The idea is to reduce production time and labor costs and sell solidly built houses at prices that are affordable for low-income people.

Other 3D house projects in North America include:

• A two-bedroom, two-bathroom print home in Riverhead, New York, listed this summer at $ 299,999.

• Four homes in Austin, Texas that were to be occupied over the summer.

• 15 “eco-responsible” homes under construction near Palm Springs, California.

• And In Mexico, a 3D printed neighborhood for families living on $ 3 a day.

The Tallahassee house project has garnered a lot of attention from visitors, including state lawmakers, as well as support from the city, Kyndra Light said.

“The city of Tallahassee has been extremely supportive of the project,” she said. “We made sure we did our homework so we presented them with something that was a viable option. “

James Light said the couple had frequently spoken for two years with city code officials, commissioners and local agencies.

“Tallahassee being the state capital, there are a lot of representatives here – that kind of help,” he said. “It was a spark of interest: ‘Hey, here’s a solution to a major problem I have.’ “

That problem is affordable housing.

The project is funded in part by the City of Tallahassee Affordable Housing Loan Program. When completed, the price of the home will be capped at 80% of the region’s median income.

The cost of maintaining the home will be less than that of a standard wood-frame home, the Lights said.

“The wood breaks and rots, especially here in the South,” said James Light. “Over time, we will be able to offer investment opportunities to families that are more accessible and with a longer range of returns. “

Jim Ritter and Fredrik Wannius, co-founders of Printed Farms, have accepted delivery of their first printing machine in August 2020 from Denmark.

The “closed-shell construction system,” said Wannius, “produces a hurricane and flood-resistant building by taking plasterboard from the walls and using a nearly waterproof printing material.”

“The material arrives in super bags and is loaded into a silo,” he added. “The material is mixed [in the system] with water and pumped into the hopper of the 3D printer.

He said a 1,540 square foot home can be produced in two to three weeks, depending on inspections, the roofing system and whether windows and exterior doors are installed.

“It goes from forming the slab to covering the roof,” he said. “We can print the walls in four to five days.

Wannius said his company has not encountered any local building code issues to date.

“Our buildings have top quality materials and are stronger than most current construction methods,” he said.

He added that the company intends to build a 4,500 square foot luxury home on the Intracoastal Waterway in Lake Worth, Florida.

“We are approved for the design and advancement of structural engineering,” he said. “It will prove that building upscale and luxury homes is cheaper and of better quality than the classics. We feel more resilient to molds, hurricanes and floods. Our freedom of design makes the cost much lower because the curves do not add expensive forming costs. This house will have the first 3D printed swimming pool.

Wannius said Printed Farms is also negotiating the construction of a two-story house in Tampa for a client and is looking to build a single-family home for the University of Miami, an AirBnB for another client and a luxury horse farm in 2022. .

“These projects have been handpicked from 600 applications since February,” he said.

Mike Pappas, CEO of real estate services firm The Keyes Co., agreed that 3D has a future.

“I think we are in the embryonic stage. The car is just starting to roll, ”he said. “There are people who bet big on this. They see it as the future. I’ve heard that the building’s strength is because poured concrete is actually stronger than a typical house.

The biggest potential delay is that local building codes do not address 3D homes, lawyers say.

“There are differences between us in the tri-county area and the Tallahassee neighborhood where this couple built their home,” said Fort Lauderdale lawyer Keith Poliakoff of the Government Law Group.

Kyndra Light said 3D homes can come to scale faster if builders, developers, regulators and others work together to make them happen.

“If we can all lock our arms and walk the Yellow Brick Road, so to speak, that’s what it will take,” she said.

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