As the UK’s first 3D printed housing development gets under way, we look at its benefits and how it could change the UK construction industry…
3D Construction Printing
We’ve all heard of pre-fab housing – and even ‘flat-pack’ timber frame build-your-own home kits – but at a time when many of us are busy building and decorating gingerbread houses with the children, UK housing has moved to another level with the advent of the first 3D printed housing development.
Accrington in Lancashire has been named as the first location for the development of homes built using 3D Construction Printing (3DCP). These 46 eco-friendly homes are intended for homeless veterans and low-income families.
Building for Humanity
The Charter Street project, costed at £6 million, will see the homes built in a matter of weeks. A timescale that most mainstream home builders can only dream of! Once completed, it will be the largest development of its kind in Europe.
It’s not the work of a mainstream developer – instead it is being created by the not-for-profit organisation called Building for Humanity. The housing provider’s aim is to create homes for those at risk of being homeless, families on low incomes, and veterans.
Housing developers might be interested to know that as well as the quick turnaround, this method of building is reckoned to be about 25% cheaper than traditionally built homes, costs less in labour, and results in less waste. The development also features gardens, a community centre, training hub and a number of other houses and apartments.
The homes are being made by HTL Tech, which has teamed up with Rossendale and Accrington College, to offer a first-of-its-kind-in-the-UK 3DCP Introduction Course.
3D Housing Around the World
Although these houses are the first of their kind in the UK, 3D printed houses have been built in the United States since 2018 – the first was by building company Icon in Austin, Texas. They have also been used to create structures in Mexico and even schools in Malawi.
This year a social housing development of five homes was built in Reims, France, and finished in 12 months, instead of the 16 months a development built using traditional methods would have taken.
Whilst a town in Oregon, US, is banking on this method to build much-needed homes in the face of a labour shortage. John Day, Oregon, is a rural town that has both a shortage of construction companies and a shortage of houses. City Manager Nick Green plans to see 100 homes 3D printed over the next five years. Speaking on Oregon Public Broadcasting radio, he said: “For rural communities, it makes a lot of sense to experiment with [3D printing homes] because we are highly labor constrained. We don’t have large-scale homebuilders chomping at the bit to come to our community. It would take every contractor in the county just to build 12 houses.”
As for the UK, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) we will need another 216,800 new workers by 2025 just to cope with demand. Perhaps this latest technological development could be part of the solution?
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