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September 20, 2021

Could 3D-printed homes solve Canada’s housing supply problem?

The horror story that is Canada’s housing market features two protagonists: historically low mortgage rates and a painfully inadequate supply of homes for sale.

The first could gradually mitigate. The second will be invading homebuyers’ nightmares for years to come.

Increasing housing supply using traditional methods is not easy in Canada. And that’s particularly true in major cities, where real estate experts note the space needed to build thousands of units every year has proven elusive, and the time required to get projects designed, approved, built and sold takes years.

Canada’s supply crisis could use some fresh solutions, and one may have already presented itself: 3D-printed housing (3DPH).

“We can have a lowering impact on the cost of the wall assemblies and … the slab prep,” says Ian Comishin, president of Dutch construction technology firm Twente Additive Manufacturing (TAM).

TAM, and other companies pushing the technology, say it’s an affordable, efficient method of providing new homes.

How do you print a house?

Instead of putting ink on paper, a 3D home printer puts down layers of concrete to create a home’s foundation, walls or other structural components. Windows, doors and everything else is added later by contractors.

If you’re like most people, printing conjures images of what’s spat out by your home or work computer setup.

3D printing a home is kind of like that, but instead of putting layers of ink on a sheet of paper, it puts down layers of cement to create a home’s foundation and shell. Once that shell is complete, the finishing work — windows, roof, wiring, plumbing — is done by contractors.

A glimpse of the process can be found in this video from Calgary-based 3D Printed Homes Corporation.

While homes can be 3D printed from the ground up, doing so requires hauling the printer — a large, sophisticated piece of machinery — to a building site.

That’s not always feasible, so some homes are constructed by printing their individual components, hauling them to the construction site and assembling them there.

Keep reading in the Windsor Star


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