Subdivision of 3D-printed homes coming to East Austin area next year

A cluster of four homes built using 3D printing technology in East Austin is considered to be the first sold in the Austin market. 

It’s a process developed by an Austin-based company called ICON

Two of the homes were purchased as investment properties by Megan MacPherson. "I think it's a great solution to sort of the housing crisis right now," said MacPherson.

They've only had one hitch so far.

"Insurance was a bit of a challenge. I think it's just a little bit of like stepping into the unknown. Um, for everybody, for us, for us, it's great marketing, you know, for insurance. It's sort of like, will these be around in five years or they're going to get blown down," said MacPherson.

ICON is now moving from a cluster of homes to an entire neighborhood, by teaming up with Lennar Homes. The two will develop the first subdivision built with 3D printing technology. 

The initial phase is for 100 homes, according to ICON CEO Jason Ballard.

"We're an ambitious company and we're very excited to be moving with the kind of velocity and courage that we are. And the name of the game for us this year, we thought that the technology was ready for prime time," said Ballard.

The 3D process of layering concrete can set the walls of a house in about a week. The deal with Lennar will test ICON's mass production capabilities.

"Typically, when you try to build houses faster and cheaper, you often get a worse product. But in fact, the opposite happens with 3D printing. These houses are more resilient, more comfortable, more energy-efficient," said Ballard.

Dennis Goodman, who lives next to the East Austin 3D printed homes watched each one take shape. For him, time will provide the ultimate test. "I'm for it. If it does pass well, that's all I can say. I give it six years. I have to see it, OK, well, we see what happened. Because you know how it gets here," said Goodman.

The big promise with using this new technology is affordability. 

Low-income units have already been built in Austin’s Community First Village and a site in Mexico. At Camp Swift, ICON has built military living quarters. And the company has also landed a contract with NASA to create out-of-this-world habitats. 

Despite all that, Ballard remains grounded on what he is trying to accomplish.

"This is no longer a niche prototype space age. Well, it is space-age technology. This is the main stage. We're taking the main stage with confidence. We believe this is the, should be the preferable way of building for everyone who wants a home," said Ballard.

The location for this first-of-its-kind subdivision will be in the Austin metro area but its exact location has not yet been disclosed. 

Prices for the new development have not yet been set. But they are expected to range close to the median sales price in Austin, which is around $450-thousand. Ground-breaking for the subdivision is set for 2022.

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