AUSTIN, Texas - Some new homes are up for sale in East Austin and they're unlike any other on the market.
Austin-based construction technology company ICON and Kansas City developer 3Strands partnered up on the 3D-printed homes in the East 17th Street Residences. The homes are the first of their kind in the U.S.
Conner Jenkins, Senior Project Manager at ICON, says "The experience that you get living (the) home is not that different than probably the apartment you might live in or the home someone else might live in."
The experience may be the same but constructing the homes was much different.
"This is a technological feat that did not come easy but took a lot of brainpower a lot of effort and we’re so proud of the end product," Jenkins says.
ICON used its 3D printing technology to print the first floor of the homes using a proprietary concrete-like substance it calls "lavacrete" which Jenkins calls "a great material to carry us into the future."
Jenkins says the "lavacrete" is a material that has great thermal properties that can be used to help increase efficiency in homes. He says the material also helps make the homes more resilient and capable of withstanding fire, floods, and other natural disasters better than traditionally built homes.
The East 17th Street Residences have four homes and they range in size from about 1,000-square feet to 2,000-square feet. All the homes were printed in less than week.
"Not only do we want to lower cost we also want to lower waste and we want to lower time in the schedule which is crucial for anyone trying to sell homes in this market or really any market," Jenkins says.
Changing the thinking on housing is what helped draw 3Strands to partner with ICON on the project.
3Strands CEO Gary O'Dell says, "We have a housing shortage in this country and fundamentally it’s a supply problem and we are just passionate about getting the best and brightest of the potential technologies to solve that problem out of the lab and into the field and so this project was perfect."
The homes were designed by Logan Architecture and Austin-based designer Claire Zinnecker also joined the project to help design interior finishes and fixture selection. The spaces have a modernized West Texas feel featuring natural woods, metal finishes, and earthy tile colors.
"We wanted to show that you can build homes with the 3D printed technology that anyone will live in and as you look around you’ll see really great finishes and bright lighting and just a really livable home and we’re really proud of the final product," says O'Dell.
ICON says it also hopes it can help revolutionize construction jobs and help find a solution to the affordable housing crisis both here in Austin and in other parts of the U.S.
"Our heart breaks for the community especially our fellow humans that don’t have dignified housing and so our mission is to meet that need and to meet it with excitement energy and courage," says Jenkins.
Two of the homes have been sold but two others were put on the market on August 31.