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Ryan E. Day


First Permitted 3D-Printed House to Hit the Market

Can lean manufacturing ease the U.S. housing crisis?

Published: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 12:03

‘For sale: 3 bd, 2 ba, 1,407 sq ft home in Riverhead, NY,” the groundbreaking listing on Zillow reads. “Own a piece of history! This is the world’s first 3D-printed home for sale [on the open market]. The future begins with this historic property!” Perhaps the exclamation marks are warranted.

Printed by New York-based SQ4D using its patent-pending ARCS technology, this home was architecturally designed by nationally renowned engineering firm H2M, which took care to incorporate efficiency codes and lower energy costs. SQ4D claims its process provides a stronger build than traditional concrete structures while using a more sustainable building process. With complete confidence in the quality of its product, SQ4D will be including a 50-year limited warranty on its 3D-printed structures.

SQ4D 3d printed house

Lean manufacturing meets home construction

Within the supply-and-demand dynamic of the housing industry, one of the less obvious contributors to the equation is that construction methods haven’t improved much during the last five decades. Yes, some materials are vastly improved, and processes now include prefabrication, but the shell of a home is still basically an assemblage of many, many pieces to produce the living representation of a design. Unfortunately, that is an extremely wasteful affair and muda, or waste, is always a contributor to decreased profit margin, and thus higher cost.

To pioneer a more efficient construction model, SQ4D developed its ARCS technology to robotically build the footings, foundations, and interior and exterior walls, on site. SQ4D claims its proprietary hardware and software enables the construction site to be safer while creating eco-friendly concrete homes compared to traditional wood-frame construction—at a fraction of the cost.

3D-printing detractors have been naysaying additive manufacturing as a production-level technology ever since it was first introduced. But that’s what some folks said about electric vehicles, too. Engineers continue to overcome EV challenges, and it appears they are doing so in the construction area as well.

“Conventional construction methods have many baked-in drawbacks and problems that we’ve taken for granted for so long that we forgot how to imagine any alternative,” says Jason Ballard, co-founder of ICON Technology. “With 3D printing, you not only have a continuous thermal envelope, high thermal mass, and near zero-waste, but you also have speed, a much broader design palette, next-level resiliency, and the possibility of a quantum leap in affordability. This isn’t 10-percent better; it’s 10 times better.”

Solving the affordable housing crisis

With 3D home printing having such an impact on cost, it may be that new opportunities to mitigate homelessness will emerge. ICON Technology thinks so, enough to print the welcome center for the Community First! Village project.

Welcome center for Community FirstVillage

Community First! Village is a mutual project of ICON, Mobile Loaves & Fishes, and Cielo property group. The housing community provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of chronic homelessness.

“The whole ICON team was honored to deliver a beautiful welcome center for Community First! Village, one of the most innovative developments in Austin,” says Jason Ballard, co-founder and CEO of ICON. “Their nonstop work to love and serve our sisters and brothers experiencing homelessness is inspiring and makes all of us at ICON want to bring the very best of ourselves to the job. All the late nights, blood, sweat, and tears at the lab... this is what it’s for. We’re proud to deliver buildings like this to Community First!, and I think all of Austin can be proud that two local, home-grown ventures are working on these issues together in such an innovative way. I hope this makes Austin proud, too.”

With the U.S. housing market still in the grip of a sustained housing crunch, it may be possible that 3D printing technology can drive a lasting solution to this crisis by drastically reducing the cost of new home construction.

Stephen King of Realty Connect, the Zillow Premier agent who has the New York listing, says, “At $299,999, this home is priced 50-percent below the cost of comparable newly constructed homes in Riverhead, New York, and represents a major step toward addressing the affordable housing crisis plaguing Long Island.”

SQ4D’s listing of the first 3D-printed home will forever change the construction industry, making its tagline, “Changing the Way the World is Built” a very possible reality. SQ4D currently has building plans under review, from New York to California.


About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s project manager and senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20 lb tabby cat at his side.