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Skilled Tradesmen are a Dying Breed So Lennar Opts to 3-D Print New Homes

Lennar Corp. and construction-technology firm Icon teamed up in Austin Texas to 3-D print a neighborhood of 100 homes.
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Concept Rendering 3-D Printed Houses

Please note 3-D Printed Houses Are Sprouting Near Austin as Demand for Homes Grows

Lennar Corp. and construction-technology firm Icon are poised to start building next year at a site in the Austin metro area, the companies said. While Icon and others have built 3-D printed housing before, this effort will test the technology’s ability to churn out homes and generate buyer demand on a much larger scale.

“Skilled tradesmen are a dying breed,” said Eric Feder, president of LenX, Lennar’s venture-capital and innovation unit. “So there have to be alternative building solutions to help with this labor deficit.”

The vast majority of newly built single-family homes in the U.S. are constructed on-site and framed in wood using traditional construction methods.

Icon’s 3-D printed houses use concrete framing instead. Its 15.5-foot-tall printers can build the exterior and interior wall system for a 2,000-square-foot, one-story house in a week, said Jason Ballard, Icon’s chief executive. The printer squeezes out concrete in layers, like toothpaste out of a tube. The machines can print curved walls, allowing for more creative house designs, he added.

Labor and Time

It takes a week to frame a standard house and a week to frame a 3-D house as well.

However, a standard house takes 6-12 framers and drywall workers and the 3-D house only 3.

The 3-D printing concrete can leave ridges due to layering. And you better get the layout right because it will not be so easy to knock out a wall and make a larger room where two rooms once were. 

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On the other side of the ledger, concrete will not rot or get chewed up by termites. And concrete is more weather resistant, wind resistant, and fire resistant. 

A 100 home subdivision is nothing, but you have to start somewhere.

It will be interesting to see where this process goes.

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