by Vanessa Bates Ramirez: The 3D printed houses just keep coming…
Last week we covered a home being built in northern Italy, unique because it’s made entirely of natural materials and shaped like a hive. Now there’s a 3D printed home for sale in the US, unique because it’s one of the earliest examples of the technology moving from conceptual to commercial.The house is located in Riverhead, New York, an area on the north-east end of Long Island. It’s still under construction, being built by SQ4D, an offshoot of New York-based S-Squared 3D Printers. With 1,500 square feet of living space, 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, an open floor plan, and a garage all sitting on a quarter-acre lot, the home is listed on Zillow for $299,999.
According to the real estate agent who’s showing the house, “At $299,999, this home is priced 50 percent below the cost of comparable newly-constructed homes in Riverhead, NY and represents a major step towards addressing the affordable housing crisis plaguing Long Island.” Taking a look at nearby listings on Zillow, the price differential estimate seems to be accurate; smaller, older homes are priced well over $300,000.
The house’s classic design, including a neutral gray color with white trim, give it some nice curb appeal and charm. It’s nothing fancy, but it looks like a perfectly pleasant place to live.
Its footings, foundations, interior and exterior walls are all 3D printed on site (rather than being printed in a warehouse then transported to the intended location) with SQ4D’s Autonomous Robotic Construction System (ARCS). ARCS is a large gantry-style printer on rails that takes six hours to set up, and initially debuted in 2018.
While some worry that 3D printing homes will put construction workers out of a job, the flip side is the technology’s potential to decrease the cost and time of building while increasing safety for human workers. SQ4D’s website claims its process is 3 times faster than traditional construction, brings a 70 percent reduction in costs, and only requires 3 laborers for printing (keep in mind that several more human workers are needed to complete the roof, windows, interior finishes, and other details of the house beyond its printed concrete components).
SQ4D also says its homes have a low environmental footprint; the voltage required for the 3D printer is “about the same as standard hair dryer,” they use sustainable building materials, material usage is calculated to exact specifications for zero waste, and printing 500 square feet worth of space for a home uses less than 10 gallons of fuel.
As the pandemic drags on and more people move out of cities, demand for single-family homes as compared to apartments has gone up. If this trend continues or accelerates, these 3D printed houses could come in quite handy. And there are a few great things about concrete as a building material: it’s sturdy, durable, soundproof, and fire-resistant.
Given its reasonable cost, aforementioned curb appeal, novelty factor, and the fact that people are leaving New York City in droves, Riverhead’s 3D printed house will likely get snapped up off the market quickly—and more of its kind will follow.