Largest 3D-printed housing community rising in Texas to aid in homebuilder shortage
As the online real estate marketplace Zillow learned the hard way in Q3, flipping houses for profit is not as easy as it seems, even if you've cornered the sellers and rely on AI called iBuying to outbid the humans. One reason Zillow just announced a US$304 million write-down and ditched its AI-led real estate flipping project is that it underestimated the homebuilder shortage and couldn't renovate then resell the houses that the AI bought in time and for profit.
Enter 3D-printed homes. They require much less manual labor and are thus cheaper and faster to erect, making them a potential solution to the scarcity of human builders. The world's largest 3D-printed community will be rising in Texas to prove those points with 100 houses constructed by ICON, America's first company to obtain a permit for building a 3D-printed home. The firm's Vulcan II robotic printer can squirt enough proprietary Lavacrete wall material for a 500 square feet house in 24 hours, and 5 of the Vulcans are to be involved in the project. According to ICON's CEO Jason Ballard:
Construction-scale 3D printing not only delivers higher-quality homes faster and more affordably, but fleets of printers can change the way that entire communities are built for the better. The United States faces a deficit of approximately 5 million new homes, so there is a profound need to swiftly increase supply without compromising quality, beauty, or sustainability and that is exactly the strength of our technology. It is an honor and a huge milestone for ICON to partner with Lennar, an elite top-tier homebuilder with a commitment to innovation. We believe this will be a watershed moment in the history of community-scale development and the future breaking into the present.
The design of the 3D-printed houses has been co-developed with the storied Danish architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group. One of its partners, Martin Voelkle, added a comment that the "3D-printed architecture and the photovoltaic roofs are innovations that are significant steps towards reducing waste in the construction process, as well as towards making our homes more resilient, sustainable, and energy self-sufficient."
The largest 3D-printed community will be breaking ground next year in Austin, but mum's the word on the single home pricing just yet. Still, just a glance at the 3D-printing process with ICON's Vulcan robot below could explain why the people involved are so confident that home-building automation can aid in solving the housing crunch.