PULASKI, Va. (WFXR) — The United States housing prices and rent continue to skyrocket. Last week, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hit more than 5%.
One Iowa-based company, Alquist 3D, is trying to combat the housing crisis by building 3D-printed homes. They’re looking to build 200 of these homes starting this summer in Pulaski, with a goal of building more throughout Virginia.
The process is somewhat simple.
First, a person can create what they want the frame of the house to look like by designing through a computer program called CAD.
Then, a file is transmitted to a machine, which tells it what to do and how to move.
On-site workers pour in cement material before the concrete is pumped through the tubes and dispersed in layers.
“We believe in creating a community. That’s our goal as a company, and it’s pretty hard to have a community if you don’t have anywhere to live,” said Zachary Mannheimer, founder and CEO of Alquist 3D.
According to Mannheimer, southwest Virginia struggles with affordable housing, which is echoed across the nation.
“Every time a home increases by a thousand dollars in the price, we displace 150,000 American families,” said Mannheimer.
WFXR News’ Kelsey Jean-Baptiste reached out to RE/MAX 8 realtor Scott Bunn, who says with inflation at a 40-year high, minimum wage increases, and more, he sees the housing crisis continuing for a while.
“Buying anything under $200,000 in the entire New River Valley is kind of hard to do,” said Bunn.
That being said, Bunn adds that with buying and selling 80 homes within the New River Valley, his best advice is to know the realtor you are working with.
“You need to work with someone that has been around the block and knows how to write competitive offers that win,” said Bunn.
However, other organizations, like Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg Virginia, can help people find homes.
In December 2021, the chapter got the chance to place single mother April Stringfield in the first-ever owner-occupied 3D printed house.
Stringfield was previously selected a year before to partner with Habitat in finding her a home.
“When they said that they can print the home this way and said it should be faster, cheaper, and safer, we got very excited,” said Janet V. Green, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg Virginia.
Green says with the help of Virginia Housing, Virginia Tech, and Alquist 3D, they built Stringfield’s 167-layer home.
“April will have a 30-year mortgage. The only difference between that and other mortgages is that hers is interest-free. It is more than half of what she was paying in rent, and that includes her real-estate taxes and insurance,” explained Green.
Green adds the walls of the three-bedroom were constructed in less than 30 hours.
Mannheimer believes that 3D printing is a game-changer because it cuts costs up to 15% by scaling back labor, materials, and time. He does understand that there are concerns about displacing traditional construction jobs, and some environmental impacts of this method, but he says he is working to attack those issues.