Jun 24, 2022 - Real Estate

Richmond's first 3D-printed house is here

A white house that's been 3-day printed on the outside with a big porch.
Tiffany Terrell and her daughter stand outside their new home on Carnation Street. Photo: Karri Peifer/Axios

Richmond's first 3D-printed house is officially complete, and the owners move in next month.

Why it matters: Virginia Housing hopes 3D printing will make it significantly cheaper to build houses in the long run, and while the process isn't there yet, the completion of the first one in Richmond is a big first step.

  • The process uses a large robotic arm to print the exterior walls, and the two layers of 3D-printed concrete are the only 3D-printed portions of the house.
  • Work started a year ago on the house, powered by a $500,000 innovation grant from Virginia Housing.

Context: The median home price in Virginia reached $400,000 in May, the Virginia Realtors association reported Thursday, a record high for the state and a 9.7% increase over the previous year.

What's next: 3D-printed houses will become affordable once builders are able to use the method to build multiple houses at once, Chris Thompson, director of strategic housing for Virginia Housing, tells Axios.

  • And 3D printing significantly shortens the build time and number of workers needed, down to about 20 hours for a whole house exterior as opposed to weeks.
  • Once the technology is better understood and more broadly used, homebuyers could see 20-30% cost savings, Thompson says.
  • Virginia Housing estimates the homeowner will save $54 a month heating and cooling the house because the concrete walls are energy efficient.

Details: The 1,550-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house is in South Richmond, just off Midlothian Turnpike on Carnation Street.

  • Project Homes, a partner on the project, bought the vacant lot in 2019 for $35,000, according to city property records, and donated the land for the project.
  • The Richmond-based nonprofit also helped the new owner, Tiffany Terrell, and her daughter apply for grants to qualify for the home, which was listed for $235,000. Terrell will close on the house in mid-July.

What they're saying: "There's a shortage of housing," Thompson says. "We're just looking for ways to accelerate the process — at finding ways to get more homes."

Be smart: This is the second 3D-printed house to be completed in Virginia. The first was finished late last year near Williamsburg, and two more are in the works in Pulaski, all done in partnership with Virginia Housing and Alquist, an Iowa-based 3D home construction printing company.

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