2020 Update: 3D Printed Homes in Northern VA
Last Updated November 23rd, 2019
If you are interested in green home and eco friendly construction, you may have heard of 3D construction printing. It is exciting technology, with the potential to change an industry. But will it catch on? Will 2020 be the year that we see 3D printed homes in Northern VA?
Time will tell, and at the end of 2020 I will update. Right now there are multiple companies that are offering printers, printing services, software and more.
So could 2020 be the year we see some form of a 3D printed home in Northern VA? It is possible. A fully printed house is much farther out, but if builders are able to embrace the technology, a hybrid between printing and traditional construction could be a reality soon.
If you are in the market for new construction in Northern VA, this complete guide is a great resource. It also has current homes for sale.
The Building Process
Homes could one day be finished mostly – if not all – by machine. A large robotic printer produces material of various kinds to build the structure, changing materials as it develops different elements of the home.
Concrete and concrete mixes are the most popular choice due to its strength and simplicity to produce.
In 2020 the homes will be built hybridly: foundation is poured the traditional way, and then the printer “builds” the concrete walls by creating and laying concrete bricks for the walls.
At various points during the printing process, structural and other elements are added by hand. This includes door frames, windows, roof, electrical, plumbing, etc.
The process has changed since it was first tested, and it will continue to evolve with time as more developers experiment with the equipment.
The First 3D Printed Home in the US
In 2018, the US had its first printed home built and permitted in Austin, TX.
The home was small, clocking in at 350 square feet. It was built by ICON, the maker of the Vulcan equipment line.
This modest home was a large accomplishment. Not only was it successfully created, but it made it through the state permitting process. In other words, the home is liveable and currently legally occupied.
This opens the floodgates for 3d printing to spread across the country. It sets a precedent: since one jurisdiction approved a 3d printed home, others could feel more comfortable not being the first.
Benefits of 3D Printing
Green building practices have gained popularity as the decades pass. As this trend continues, eco friendly building will only continue to be more in-demand.
3D printed homes have potential to offer many advantages over traditional structures.
First of all, the printers drastically limit waste. According to ICON, building a home the traditional way produces an average of 4 tons of various material waste.
Printing is very close to being an exact science. Once the printer is done with a project, it stops using material immediately and saves what is remaining for the next home.
Secondly, these homes are strong. Concrete is a resilient material. And that could just be the beginning – future mixes of materials could be even stronger, making homes more resistant to natural disasters and general wear and tear.
Homes will also be built much faster. For example, the printing itself on a 2,000 square foot house would take days. Comparatively, traditional building generally takes about a year or more.
Finally, it will reduce costs. The amount that printing could reduce costs remains to be seen, and likely will get lower as the technology advances.
What This Means for New Homes In Northern VA
We have a historically strong market. Northern VA also has lots of new homes and communities.
If 3D printing begins to catch on in the construction industry, then there will be a number of developers who will adopt the technology.
Should printed homes reach their full potential in the construction industry, new home building could be revamped in Northern VA and the homes you see being built will be of different material, different look, faster, and cheaper.
Of course, challenges exist. Some which are anticipated and others still to be discovered. 3D printed homes are just starting to be constructed in 2020.
Building multi-level, larger homes will need to be proven before it can take hold in our market as more than just a niche option.
Experts are split on whether it will catch on. In my opinion, it is a matter of when it will catch on, and to what degree.
Will a fully printed single family home become a reality in Northern VA in the near future? I think it is more likely to be print assisted but keep the human element.
Would you buy one of the first 3d printed homes?
I am an expert in new construction in Northern VA. If you have any questions about green building, builders in the area, or new homes for sale use the form below.