Is 3D printing your house the future?
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Whether it’s sharing a mortgage with friends, downsizing to a tiny home or taking to the water, younger generations are experimenting with brand new ways to build and invest in property.
So it probably won’t come as any surprise to you to hear that people are now experimenting with 3D printing homes!
But is 3D printing an option when it comes to growing your property portfolio, or should you stick to the traditional buy-to-let mortgage route?
What is 3D printing?
3D printing first came to the market in the mid 1990s, but it has only been in the last few years that it has come to the mainstream. Technological advances mean that 3D printers are now something that the average person could potentially afford – and fit in their home.
There’s been an explosion in businesses built on 3D printing – from artists using it to create saleable stock or patterns you can download to print at home. The medical industry is even using 3D printers to print pieces required for surgery, and during the pandemic, 3D printers were used to print much-needed PPE.
But while we can all picture simple items printed out for ease of use… can you really imagine a house?!
Are there any 3D printed houses?
France and the US have been looking into 3D printing homes, but in early 2021, a retired Dutch couple became the first to move into a 3D printed home. As you might expect, it doesn’t look like a traditional home, it’s a single storey, shaped like a boulder and has that recognisable 3D printed texture, adding to its space-age design.
The load-bearing walls are 3D printed in sections, on industrial sized printers, using concrete, rather than plastic.
What is the benefit of 3D printed houses?
- Quick to build. The Dutch house was printed in 120 hours and while further work had to be done to assemble it and finish the inside, it was still a lot quicker to build than the average single-storey home which can take 20-24 weeks. Working with a machine to get a large chunk of the build done means it’s a lot quicker and is therefore something that could be considered to help the housing crisis.
- Cheaper. It’s a lot cheaper to 3D print a house than it is to build one the traditional way as you’re saving in manpower and materials.
- More environmentally friendly. In the 21st century, with climate change an ever increasing worry, making more eco-friendly choices is top priority. 3D printing minimises the cement used, making it a more environmentally friendly option
- Creativity. We’ve all watched Grand Designs and wished – however fleetingly! – that we could build our own home, but the more creative you want to be, the more expensive it becomes. But there’s not much you can’t do with a 3D printer! When it comes to the shape of your home, the only limit is your imagination!
Should I be investing in 3D printed houses?
This isn’t really an option for a new landlord, as in order to do this, you’d need:
- Planning permission
- A dedicated team, experienced in this form of building
- Financial backing
Typically, landlords remortgage existing properties to get the capital required for a new investment via a buy-to-let mortgage. For this sort of project, you wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage, so you’d be reliant on your own funds.
So the question becomes – do you want to risk your funds on 3D printed homes? They’re new to the market, so the worries include:
- Are they a good long-term investment? We all know that property is a reliable investment, but are 3D printed properties as reliable?
- Will they stand the test of time? Will they withstand weather and ageing the way traditional bricks and mortar does?
- Will you be able to insure? Will insurance companies be willing to offer you Home Emergency Insurance?
- Are they easy to rent out? People tend not to like change, so will people overlook your properties because they don’t look like what they’re expecting?
However, if you do have the land, the means and you are willing to take the risk on something brand new to the market, 3D printing your own mini-village could be just right for you!