3D Printed Houses, Homes of the Future?

Hello Nature-Led friends! I hope you are having a good day! I’m currently swimming under what’s called an “atmospheric river” (The warm air around the Hawai’i islands blows into the Pacific Northwest cold mountain air and comes down in heavy rain. (Also called a “Pineapple Express” locally.) Oddly enough, I’m allergic to pineapples, so I’m grateful it only drops heavy rain and not actual pineapples. Can you imagine the damage? We’d have to reinforce everything with steel roofs!

Home Sweet Home Minecraft Edition – I recreated my house in Minecraft

This post was inspired by an article I read about a house that was 3D printed using raw earth See link #1). This sparked my imagination. What if we could build in place with minimal noise and additional resources? It seems to me the walls would be stronger and additives could be added giving it a pliability that could help reduce the stress of earthquakes. I’m always thinking about how new building techniques can create safer housing option. Having the ability to make a house rounded or into more organic shapes could help reduce wind resistance in areas with hurricanes and tornados. It also unlocks a whole new level or architectural possibilities! The thick walls provide a higher R-value for insulation and in conjunction with steel beams or careful internal wall placement can create load bearing structures that could house gardens and other times of greenery on top. Sometimes I build out these ideas using video games like Minecraft and Terraria, but then I’m limited by the game’s environment. There are games and applications like Dream by Media Molecule and Blender (blender.org) an open source #D graphic tool to name two. I recently reinstalled an old program called Bryce. I just haven’t been able to convince myself that investing a lot of time learning/relearning these applications is the best use of my time.

Pros of 3D printed houses:

  • Higher R-value for insulation that reduces heating and cooling costs
  • Opportunity for new building materials that may be more resistant to environmental disasters
  • Opportunity for more organic shapes and architectural elements, including rooftop space for gardens, rain catchment systems, and durable platforms for solar panels, residential wind turbines, or other ecological investments to reducing a home’s carbon footprint.

I’m also supportive of factory-built builds. This is where a large portion of the building is done in a factory-controlled setting then trucked to the pre-prepped site location.

The benefits of factory builds include:

  • Reduction of weather induced delays
  • Safer working conditions for the workers, framing is a dangerous low wage job
  • Reduction of noise and disturbances at build site
  • Reduction of trucks driving raw resources to the build site
  • Reduction of security issues like theft or vandalism

One of the toughest challenges facing new building techniques are strict building codes. Most building codes are created with the intention of make sure that buildings are built in a safe and responsible manner. However, some codes and laws are written in a way as to use language that favors existing builders and building standards from competitive innovative materials and designs. These manipulations of codes and laws are “business as usual” in most countries and extend beyond just the building sector. What if we had a clear pathway to design, innovate, stress test and implement new building structures?

Photo by Bianca on Pexels.com

When we talk about systemic changes for racial justice, we also need to talk about systemic changes for environmental justice. In my mind the two are tightly interwoven. What would the United States have looked like now without the principles of manifest destiny and the colonization dogma of our forefathers? “Business as usual” cannot continue to be the status quo if humanity wants to survive into the next millennia. As I get older I become more resistant to change in some ways. Sometimes the “new way” isn’t really the best way, sometimes its forced upon us so someone else can profit from it. At other times the “new way” is actually a really old way being re-learned by a new group of people.

Working together and respecting where people are in their lives is much more helpful to providing long-term sustainable environments and communities. War is the least sustainable thing any country can do. Every time a missile gets fired to prove combat readiness or military prowess, I think of all the marine life disrupted and destroyed because of it and the people that could have been fed and housed for the cost of creating that missile.

We need opportunities for meaningful work that helps solve problems instead of creating new ones.

So far one of my biggest concerns is the lack of information on how the plumbing and electrical wiring are supposed to be done. They also don’t say much about the after-market opportunities for painting and customizing ones own home. Questions like; Can I still go down to the home improvement store an repaint a room? How do you hang a picture on a wall like that? What if a window breaks? and all the other little things that go into making a house feel like home.

Links:

This is the first house to be 3D printed from raw earth (itsnicethat.com)

3 Steps for Building Carbon Neutral Houses (entrepreneur.com)

Bamboo Architectural Designs that prove why this material is the future of modern, sustainable architecture: Part 2 | Yanko Design

I watched A LOT of YouTube videos on the subject of 3D printed houses. This was one of the videos I liked the most.

What do you think? Could you see yourself living in a 3D printed house?

10 thoughts on “3D Printed Houses, Homes of the Future?

  1. Hi Melanie, I have watched a few videos on the 3-D printed houses and they look pretty interesting. I agree with your questions about how do you do all those little things that make the house a home. I have always been interested in the geodesic home idea. There are lots on interesting ideas in that field too. Although, not having a flat wall anywhere can cause some problems. Hope all is well and you stay clear of falling pineapples!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mark, There is a geodesic home near me and it has taken them three years to replace the cedar shingle roof on it! I’m thinking its very expensive to roof those houses that he decided to do it with a friend, all summer long…for three summers. Looks like they finally finished for reals this year and around 7pm on night I heard them hooting and hollering because they were done! Hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That is too funny! Three years putting on shingles is a very long time. However, I bet it looks great.
        There is an old one room schoolhouse on my street that has shingle siding. A couple of years ago the owner was out there with an orbital sanders sanding shingle in preparation for new stain. That only took a few weeks, but it looks amazing now.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s an interesting idea. All the postwar buildings and houses I’ve lived in, especially post 1970, were built to fall apart, constructed in the cheapest way possible. Instead of piling more regulations onto existing building codes, they need to totally rethink them. How can you build affordable housing that will last? I don’t think we have the political will. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true, Kerfe. Having worked in government for 15yrs they’re fine applying a new veneer over and over, but no one wants to take the time to pick through all the codes and delete the useless ones and update/modernize the outdated ones. I used to process purchase orders and certain items would trigger an archaic form form to be filled out on a four sheet carbon copy. My favorite was the fabric orders. The recipient had to certify that they would not eat it or feed it to animals. I have no idea what old west incident triggered such a law!

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      1. One of my daughters is a programmer and she says it’s rhe same with computer code. They keep patching things over what is there until it’s unrecognizable and breaks down totally. No one wants to take the time to really fix it. But eventually…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t know how I missed this post, Melanie. Such an interesting topic. I’m interested in your opinion of shipping container homes. I happened upon a show about them and thought they seemed like a very promising option. Of course, I don’t know how many unused shipping containers are just sitting around waiting to be claimed now that we’re in a global pandemic and experiencing a disrupted supply chain. Thank you for sharing this information and getting the wheels turning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tracy! I’m all for reusing shipping containers, but they’re often better used melted down and reused into new steel products. Rust can be stopped or slowed down but not reversed. The cost to make a shipping container into a home has a lot of variable costs associated with it. The container would need to be refurbished at the very least and you may be dealing with toxic paint depending on how old it is. Most people will want or need plumbing and electrical. Ventilation will be required. Design and Site planning are incredibly important too. It can become an oven in a wildfire or drown people in a flood without an escape hatch on top. It doesn’t matter how tiny a tiny home is, it should always have at least two ways to exit in an emergency. In my state you’re required to have a window big enough for a person to fit through for a room to legally be called a “bedroom.” You could always slap a sliding glass door on one and call it a shed, but I’d rather live in a lean-to made of mud, sticks and moss.

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