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To build the frame of a house, it usually takes four to five skilled carpenters outfitted with industrial tools and enough sarcastic banter to last a week. For a new project in Austin, someone will just press Ctrl+P.
Icon, a Texas construction-tech start-up, announced Tuesday that it's teaming with a major developer to build a community of 100 homes in metro Austin that will spit out of a 3-D printer.
America's ongoing home-buying spree, driven by super-low interest rates, has boosted single-family housing starts by 20.5% in 2021, according to the US Commerce Department. But the country is still running low on houses — Freddie Mac researchers pegged the national deficit of single-family homes at 3.8 million by the end of last year.
One big obstacle is that there simply aren't enough tradesmen — some builders have sold more homes than they can build, and have had to pause sales while they catch up on orders.
Icon has one potential solution:
- It has built 15.5-foot-tall printers that can push out concrete framing for a 2,000-square-foot house in just one week — saving time, manpower, and money.
- On Tuesday, Icon tapped major developer Lennar to break ground on the largest development of 3-D printed homes by far, dwarfing Oakland-based Mighty Buildings' planned 15-lot community.
"I think 2022 is going to be a year where we are going to see a renewed emphasis on innovation," Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders, told The Wall Street Journal. "Any productivity gain, any innovation, will help add that additional supply."
Not A Dime A Copy: Don't expect discounts just because 3-D printed homes require less labor. The Icon development will be priced in line with other nearby homes. The median home-sale price in the Austin metro area is $450,000 — incredibly cheap for New Yorkers, but a number that would make many Montanans hit Ctrl+Alt+Del.