In a state faced with a major Lack of affordable housing, a new alternative to building a house out of bricks and wood could emerge – 3d printing.
Funded by a $ 500,000 grant from Virginia Housing, formerly the Virginia Housing Development Authority, designed by the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech and printed by Iowa-based construction company Alquist, it will be the first 3D-printed house in Virginia for the Selling will be on the market in October, about half as long as building a house with a floor.
The coalition, along with the Richmond-based nonprofit housing project: HOMES and the Better Housing Coalition, unveiled the house on Thursday and allowed the media to see the printing of the exterior walls. (The foundation, roof, and interior walls are built using traditional techniques.)
The grant funded Alquist’s purchase of the BOD2 3D printer, valued at $ 370,000, which is key to the project. The machine runs on a portal system that allows it to be assembled on site in four hours and dismantled in three hours, avoiding the hassle of shipping large, prefabricated building materials. The recycled concrete mix is pumped from the large mixing tank to the printer nozzle and mixed with water on the way, which minimizes cracking and flaking. It can also use open source technology that enables new sustainable materials to be implemented into the process.
The 1,550-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home on Carnation Street in South Richmond will have concrete exterior walls, which developers say will allow the home to better hold the temperature (save on heating and cooling costs) to withstand extreme weather conditions and reduce maintenance. The house will also be equipped with indoor climate sensors and an alarm system as well as other functions for optimizing energy consumption. Virginia Housing expects the home to be 50 percent more energy efficient than state regulations require. The targeted construction cost is $ 180,000 and is listed at approximately $ 210,000.
The Better Housing Coalition, a non-profit housing developer in Richmond that manages rental properties and has helped first-time buyers get into new or renovated single-family homes, is leading the next step in the 3D home process: targeting prospective buyers.
Lynn McAteer, Vice President of BHC, wants to show how energy efficiency in the home can help save time and reduce energy costs. BHC also plans to heavily subsidize whoever ends up buying the house.
“BHC is providing the buyer with a down payment grant,” said McAteer. “This is a prototype, the total cost would not be affordable to the first-time home buyer, so we raised private philanthropy to provide a grant of fifty to seventy-five thousand dollars to the buyer on an affordable mortgage.”
Alquist CEO Zachary Mannheimer believes that finding and engaging buyers will be an easy process. “We’ll show you the numbers. Your running costs will be 50 percent less than a wooden house, and affordability will be less. We know we can save at least 10 percent across the board compared to stick building, and probably more if we look at the numbers. “
Mannheimer said the only real barrier keeping 3D printed enclosures from becoming the next big thing is scalability. While they plan to build more homes in Williamsburg, Exmore, and Stanton, Iowa this year – more projects are planned for 2022 – an additional BOD2 printer would enable a significant expansion of operations.
“This is the future, and many will not accept it,” said Mannheimer. “We’ve been building houses the same way for a thousand years. The industry has to adapt and change. Housing wasn’t affordable before the pandemic, now it really is not affordable. We have to adapt, and technology is the way to do that. ”
In 2018, Virginia had a shortage of 400,000 affordable housing units, a problem that has only worsened, says the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Research into 3D printing is part of other approaches to meet the need, including modular and factory-built homes, said Susan Dewey, CEO of Virginia Housing.
“The lack of affordable housing affects every family and community, and we are not going to stop until every Virginian has a safe, affordable place to call home,” she said in a statement.