3D printers have become popular in recent years, and they're increasingly becoming an attractive option in the property industry. The aim of 3D housing is to make the construction industry both quicker and cheaper, something that is bound to become more appealing post-COVID-19. But, there are also downsides to this new tech that we must remain mindful of.
Here's what you need to know about 3D printed housing.
First 3D Printed House
A family in France became the first to move into a four-bedroom, semi-detached property which was a prototype for bigger projects. The family were originally living in social housing before being chosen to move into the prototype, a big change for them.
The house took 54 hours to print, followed by four months of contractors adding the finishing touches. In total, the cost was £176k, coming in at 20% cheaper than identical construction using a more traditional method.
Back in 2018, the average salary for a first-time buyer to purchase a home in a UK city had risen by 18% since 2015. So if we follow this trend, it means this percentage would have risen to 30% this year, despite lower mortgage rates. It's said that within the next 5-10 years, 3D printing housing will reduce construction costs by up to 40%. If this is the case, buyers who choose to go the 3D printing route will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and not have the heavy price tag attached to future houses.
A previous prototype in the UK created a 1000 square foot home priced at around 230k. At this time, the average UK property was £242k saving a total of £12k, which would be attractive to potential buyers.
Solving the Housing Crisis
However, a 'Pro' for 3D housing is its potential to help solve the housing crisis we find ourselves in today. For years, the government has been under pressure to provide more social housing, especially in disadvantaged areas. Using 3D printed houses may just solve this, with the ability to print and construct them in less than a week and at a cheaper cost compared to traditional housing.
Construction & Sustainability
Building 3D houses is completely different when compared to traditional construction. Usually, for the overall structure of the property, a concrete base of cement, sand and other additives is used. However, with the 3D printer, a few things change. This is all dependent on the purpose and the make and model of the printer. Some more eco-friendly versions are constructed using natural materials, such as mud from the surrounding area, as well as waste materials from rice production. This also means there is less wastage with 3D printing compared to normal construction because everything is printed true to size. This results in fewer materials being wasted, making the process more economically friendly.
While this all sounds great, it must be noted that 3D houses are only estimated to last around 50-60 years, as many have timber elements that are more susceptible to decay over time if not treated or maintained properly. So if you were considering a family home that will span generations, 3D printed houses probably won’t be your first option.
Watch this space
At the moment, 3D printed houses are less common in the UK. However, with big companies such as Ikea backing the movement, it won't be long before they become a popular choice for people and investors alike. For more information on Ikea's involvement in 3D housing, check out our blog on modular housing here.
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Normette Homes specialise in property investment and tenant sourcing.