So far, I have heard that two companies claim they “printed a house in a day” and both have stretched the truth a bit.
Can 3D printed houses be built faster, stronger, smarter and more affordably than conventionally built houses? Absolutely!
A 3D printed home needs a good foundation just like any other home. In most states, an engineer will need to design a foundation based on soil conditions, materials to be used and proximity to hazard areas such as flood plain or coastal erosion. So, what normally happens is:
Document preparation is next. The architect of record will use lot information such as dimensions, easements, set backs, restrictions, lot slope, trees and renewable energy options, utility and driveway access into consideration when laying out the footprint of the house as well as ingress/egress options. He or she will develop a set of construction drawings that the builder can use to get a permit to construct, normally working with an engineer for the structural components. Together, the design and engineering, coupled with the desires of the home buyer will be used for construction financing, permitting and detailed construction details needed to get a firm price from the builder. NOTE: In some cases the architect and builder can be the same company.
Determine the funding source(s) is next. Everyone wants to be paid so working with banking sources or private lending or equity sources is a must. In most cases, the architect and engineer will need to be paid upon delivery of an agreement and final payment upon completion of construction drawings. In many instances the architect can be the owner’s representative throughout the project which may alter the fee structure accordingly.
Permitting is key for a 3D printed home. There are many companies that say they can get houses built in a day but it’s not that easy. Inspections, concrete material constraints and sub contractor scheduling make this “built in a day” concept nearly impossible. Santana Capital Group's goal is to build affordable housing that uses the latest technology to build 3D printed houses faster, stronger and smarter than what is currently available using “sticks and bricks”. Permitting is a local issue. I can’t stress that enough….PERMITTING IS A LOCAL ISSUE. Although many planning and zoning departments adopt the international codes as they come out every two years, some are behind in adopting and some are more stringent depending where you are. Permitting fees also vary greatly which is why we are starting in Texas. In trying to get a permit for a house in California, I was told there were 11 different agencies that were “involved” in the permitting fee process and that it was going to add about 15% onto the price of construction. Not so where we build.
Building a 3D printed home is not easy. Most companies concentrate on the device that delivers the material – i.e. the 3D printer. That’s a big mistake. Builders need to be experienced and trained in the 3 main parts of 3D printed homes. I like to use the desktop printer as the analogy. It has three main components which include the mechanisms that work together to disperse ink and paper, the ink itself and then the paper and software enabling the final product to be produced. If any one of these three components is not working right, the process is botched resulting in failure. And you don’t want failure on your 3D printed house!!
These three components include:
Combined correctly, 3D printed houses in eco villages can provide a lower cost solution than current building techniques and offer homeowners a much better community to live in. They can reduce monthly expenses for energy, water, and hazard insurance while standing up to just about whatever mother nature can throw at them.
Construction Process Savings:
Savings are based on efficiency, effectiveness, materials not needed as well as labor saved in not using them. So let’s talk specifics.
BIM is the abbreviation for “Building Information Modeling”. In essence, it is developing a 3D plan digitally with all its building component pieces and integrating them into one model. This allows architects, engineers, builders, and customers to “see” the building before it is ever built. This saves time, reduces change orders once the construction starts and allows subcontractors, suppliers, and manufacturers to supply the right parts and service at the right time. The savings that come from using BIM can be measured in less time to design and engineer the homes. Also, integration with supply chains, subcontractors and vendors allow quicker response times reducing overall overhead expenditures by the contractor. The quicker the job gets built, the less overhead the contractor has per job.
Efficient procurement of materials and labor can save money just in job delays due to scheduling problems. Additionally, Santana Capital Group will save money because we buy in quantity vs. one at a time. This saves at least 4% of the material costs in a job and sometimes more.
Construction costs can be lowered due to the decrease in time to completion (saving labor and overhead) as well as direct costs using GeoPolymer concrete. Using a much stronger material to build houses eliminates the need for additional roofing materials, interior sheetrock, coatings for protection of materials, and wood studs, sheathing, trusses, headers and more. By eliminating several trades, you save labor, material, overhead and the delays associated with dealing with more subcontractors.
Closing out or selling your home to the homebuyer is sped up and documentation from the BIM model can be used to create O&M materials for the homebuyer as well as product information such as model, type, or version of a particular item. Warranty information is at the fingertips of both buyer and contractor and if done correctly, can save in time to close on the house.
Operations and Maintenance of the home can save the homeowner money on hazard insurance and energy consumption from the time they buy the home. If renewable systems are included, the savings per year can really add up, especially if you are selling energy back to the utility company.