If you watched 60 minutes last Sunday you would have seen them 3D printing a house. It was really interesting. Now another company joins in.
New technology from Japanese startup Serendix may eventually turn the dream of home ownership from the seemingly impossible into the possible for many Americans — and help us give our planet an assist in the process.
Not likely to be the house of the future in the U.S. unless they can get those costs down significantly.
Sure, the total cost appears super cheap - just under $38K. But that’s for a 538 square foot home, with no land costs. That’s about $74 per square foot in home construction costs.
That’s not especially cheap. Obviously construction costs vary widely by region, type of home, and circumstances of the lot. But here in Florida, per s.f. construction costs for a minimum standard home (which this would be) are about $60 per square foot. And that’s for a home that would meet local building codes, which I can tell from the video in the linked-to article that this home would not (the roof isn’t attached to the home in a way that could meet our windstorm requirements, at a minimum).
It’s an interesting idea, and maybe the price might come down with scale over time…but maybe not enough to make it feasible. At least not in the U.S.
Concrete (or similar) houses have never been especially desirable anyway, and these costs, while slightly better than stick built, aren’t going to set the world on fire. A bad simile perhaps.
However I can see using something like this to set up a moon or Mars base if they can figure out how to turn dust & sand into permanent walls. While it would still be more expensive than inflatable modules or other technologies, it could produce a solid core building where inhabitants could shelter in case of windstorm, and by using already present materials perhaps “lighten the load” of what needs to be transported.
But for “regular earth housing”, yeah, not really that exciting. Mud hut technology, 21st century.
At least in Ireland very little is built with wood. Most of it is concrete. That is common in much of Europe but not entirely across Europe. It saves water and power on water pressure. There are fewer fires.
As I said, construction costs vary enormously from place to place. Here in Florida, you can build a minimally code compliant house for less than $75 per square - it will be spartan, but so is the house shown in that video.
Which makes some sense, right? The only thing that is changed by their method is the construction of the exterior walls. Not the foundations, electric, plumbing, flooring, roofing, doors and windows, paving grading or drainage, framing of interior walls, floors, appliances, fixtures and finishes, etc. It’s only a portion of what goes into building a house, and not an especially large portion. It only seems cheap because they built a very tiny house and didn’t include any land costs.
I think it was cheap because it was only one house and a prototype at that. Usually a prototype costs much more than something that is put into production. But you are right Albaby, construction costs do vary even by Florida standards. According to a google search a home built in Florida is 60 to 140 dollars. So a home for 70 dollars is relative cheap. Especially for a prototype.
But not cheaper than what a bottom-of-the-line home would cost - at least here in Florida. And I imagine that as a “proof-of-concept” home trying to demonstrate a low cost, the non-structural elements of that home are as cheap as feasible (like the roof paneling) to try to demonstrate that this is actually a cost effective approach. So that’s probably the apples-to-apples comparison. It doesn’t seem likely that this method results in material savings (if at all) compared to conventional approaches to build a home in the same market segment.
And as I mentioned above, that home wouldn’t come close to meeting Florida’s building code. The roof alone is well substandard - you have to meet wind load criteria that snapping thin plastic panels onto a concrete shell can’t possibly handle. The doors and windows aren’t impact resistant either. It doesn’t appear they installed any insulation, and obviously there weren’t permit or infrastructure connection charges included in their construction costs.
I don’t know. They’ve developed a technique for replacing the how the exterior walls of a concrete home are constructed…but I don’t know how meaningful that is in terms of cost or time savings. The exterior walls are just a small part of building a home to begin with, and I’m not sure that this has all that much of a cost advantage compared to conventional construction methods. Maybe in Japan the cost of labor for one-off single family construction is much higher than the U.S.?
Albaby, it’s a prototype, of course it doesn’t meet the building codes of every area. How could you assume that it would? But if you can build a home for 60 dollars a sq foot in Florida than this home should be much more cheaper. I assume that in Florida you are using illegal workers, or workers that get paid under the table to get the job done that cheap.
Again, why? Nearly all of the cost of building a home in Florida would be exactly the same whether you use this method or not. All this does is use a 3-D printer to create the concrete walls, instead of it being a CBS wall. But everything else still has to be done the same way: site prep, foundation, roofing, interior framing, electrical, plumbing, doors, windows, interior framing, drywall, floors and ceilings, insulation, appliances, painting, and finishes and fixtures.
It takes one person to use the 3D printer. So if you pay one person to do this, you pay them under the table or with an illegal worker, just like you do now. Then it takes 48 hours to build that house, how can it not be cheaper?
This is not the same procedure for a 3d printed house. A lot of this will not be done like the drywalls. You are assuming things that are not true.
Because it doesn’t take 48 hours to build that house. It takes 48 hours to build the exterior walls. Or to put it another way, the only thing you’re speeding up is the construction of the exterior walls - in the article, it noted that all of the other stuff (included the interior partitions) was constructed the same way.
How much does that actually save you in time? The exterior walls are only a modest portion of the time of building a home. Or in cost, really? You only need one worker to operate the machine - but you need that person to be trained on the machine, you need the machine, and you need a supplied of poured/printable cement. That may or may not be any cheaper than using CBS blocks and a few day laborers.
No I am speeding up the building of the walls with one person. The most expensive part of building is the labor. If you watched the 60 minutes show you would see they do not have anything on the interior walls or exterior walls. All you have to do is print it out so no that would be incorrect.
That is a stretch, you really are going to bring up the training? How much training does it take to train someone to use a hammer or a drill? How to place the lumber correctly. My brother trains people in construction and it takes years. It is much easier to train someone to print a house. They will be using one “Day Labor” ie Illegal worker instead of a few.
Even if true (and see comment below) how much of the labor in building a home is the labor in building the exterior walls? I’ve never built a home (or had one built), but I’ve seen several ground up builds in my neighborhood. Once they get to the point where they’re putting up the CBS exterior walls, it takes them maybe a few days - tops - to complete the outside of the house. It’s then several months before the house is finished.
Some. But as a very general matter, when manual labor is replaced by higher-technology machinery, the job that comes with the higher tech machinery usually demands a higher level of skill and training than the lower-end job. It takes more training to safely and correctly operate a backhoe than to dig a ditch. You can teach an illiterate person (or someone not fluent in the language of your country) to lay CBS block - I doubt very much an illiterate person could operate that machinery. And they have to be able to do more than operate it - they have to be able to troubleshoot it, to know what to do if it clogs or there’s an error loading the architectural specs or how to respond in the moment if it jams or starts depositing cement incorrectly.