Could 3D Printing Help Provide Housing in the Developing World?

Even with strong infrastructure links, finance and a skilled workforce, building homes is no easy task. In developing countries, without finance and essential infrastructure, building much needed homes can be even more problematic. This is an issue as these countries are often in dire need of volume housing. The size of the problem can be put into context when it is considered that each year our government sets a target of around 300,000 houses to build, but in countries like El Salvador over 100 million people are living in slum conditions. So even 300,000 brand new homes are unlikely to make much of a dent.

New Story, a charity based in San Francisco in the US, is dedicated to finding a solution to the housing crisis in El Salvador. Over the past several years, they have built a great many homes there, often replacing scrap metal shelters or tarps with real houses with solid floors and ceilings. But in a country with nearly a third of the population needing adequate shelter, it’s a drop in an ocean.

So, they began to look for better ways to construct these homes. They researched new technologies in construction and eventually settled on 3D printing. 3D printing has the potential to drastically lower the cost of building a new home as well speeding up build times.

Over the last 10 months, New Story has worked to design a 3D printer designed specifically for building homes in regions of the world that lack the economic resources to house their poorest citizens. Recently they succeeded in printing their first home. This was a 350-sqft structure and is the first 3D printed house to be constructed to the local housing code.

3D Printed house in Austin Texas. First in US to be built to the local housing code

The construction of the house in Texas shows that 3D printing can be used to quickly create cheap, sustainable homes in place. New Story is hoping to bring this prototype to El Salvador, Bolivia, Haiti and Mexico.

Using traditional methods, New Story can build around 100 homes in 8 months for about $6000 (£4318) each. With their 3D printer it could be able to build one home a day for a cost of around $4000 (£2879) per structure, a cost saving of a third. If New Story succeeds in carrying out its vision, it could be those in developing countries who live in the first 3D printed homes and a cutting edge technology will help those most in need get roves over their head.  You can learn more about the project here.

Interested in learning more about 3D printing and other techniques that could be used in the future? Check out our earlier blog on the future of house building 

Future of Construction

We are really interested in all things Future of Construction this year at LABC Warranty.
If you have any experience working with 3D house printers, or have an opinion or insight you would like to share get in contact with us today using the email information below.
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Please Note: Every care was taken to ensure the information in this article was correct at the time of publication. Any written guidance provided does not replace the reader’s professional judgement and any construction project should comply with the relevant Building Regulations or applicable technical standards. However, for the most up to date LABC Warranty technical guidance please refer to your Risk Management Surveyor and the latest version of the LABC Warranty technical manual.


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