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Into the Future…?

I just read the most outside-the-box real estate blog post I’ve seen this year. That’s saying a lot. I’ve read a lot of blog posts this year.

This blog posits, based on scientific work now underway, that up-and-coming 3-D printer technology will be used first to “print” (i.e. create) building components, then to “print” whole buildings, including homes. The author projects that the first “printed” home will be created within the year. Here is an excerpt of the article Printable Houses and the Massive Wave of Opportunity it will bring to Our Future by Futurist Thomas Fray, April 6, 2012:

“Contour Crafting is a form of 3D printing that uses robotic arms and nozzles to squeeze out layers of concrete or other materials, moving back and forth over a set path in order to fabricate a large component. It is a construction technology that has great potential for low-cost, customized buildings that are quicker to make and can therefore reduce energy and emissions.

Using a quick-setting, concrete-like material, contour crafting forms the house’s walls layer by layer until topped off by floors and ceilings that are set into place by the crane. In its current state of thinking, buildings will still require the insertion of structural components, plumbing, wiring, utilities, and even consumer devices like entertainment and audiovisual systems, as the layers are being built.”

What do you think? Will this be one way to Go Green by reducing energy and materials in the homebuilding process? Can we use these techniques to forward efforts toward bio-mimicry, copying the superior structural designs found in nature and using natural materials? Or will it, due to ease of construction, extend our “disposable” culture into the realm of homebuilding?

Will our current homebuilding techniques soon be obsolete? Will today’s homes become architectural relics or treasured remnants of the past? How will this new technology affect building codes and permitting processes, and vice versa? How long would it take to create and implement new building codes for such structures?

For all those homebuyers and real estate agents who bemoan the repetitiveness of floorplans, perhaps this is what we’ve all been waiting for. Access to custom homes for the masses. That would certainly be a design revolution. Throw out your textbooks, 20th Century architects! Here comes the future!

If a house is built in this fashion within the year, as Mr. Frey predicts, I predict this technology would still not reach under-a-million-dollar buyers for at least a decade. what do you think?

This is the first I have heard of these techniques and these ideas. Have you heard of anything like this before? Do you believe it? What do you think the effects would be?

Read the whole article at

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