Virginia Housing and Partners Unveil Richmond’s First 3D-Printed Home
Pictured above: Homeowner Tiffany Terrell stands in front of the newly built 3-D home.
June 27, 2022
The future of innovative, creative and affordable homebuilding is on display just off Midlothian Turnpike at 217 Carnation St., and a new homeowner will soon be moving in the city’s first 3D-printed home. In June 2021, Virginia Housing and a variety of partners broke ground on a single-level, 1,500-square-foot home, and a massive 3D modular construction printer from Denmark built the exterior concrete walls. A $500,000 Innovation Demonstration grant from Virginia Housing in 2021 to the Virginia Center for Housing Research (VCHR) at Virginia Tech enabled the technology to be brought to the Commonwealth.
“Innovation requires looking at things differently – imagining the possibilities,” said Susan Dewey, CEO of Virginia Housing. “Because of this focus on innovation, 3D printing is now one of the many tools available to us to help increase housing inventory. And, we’re not going to rest on our laurels. We’re going to continue to find new solutions to the affordable housing crisis.”
About the Community Partners:
Virginia Housing and the VCHR collaborated with project:HOMES and Better Housing Coalition, two long-time partners. Started in 1998, the Better Housing Coalition is now the Richmond region’s largest nonprofit community development corporation and helped to fund the project with homebuyer assistance.
project:HOMES, a 30-year-old nonprofit that challenges the misconceptions of what defines affordable housing, owned the lot where the 3D-printed home was built, about 500 yards from its office. It provided project oversight and worked with a local real estate agent to find an interested homeowner who met the requirements, including earning less than 80% of the area’s median income. RMT Construction & Development Group served as the general contractor working closely with all parties to coordinate local regulatory compliance, permitting and zoning and insurance.
Alquist, a 3D printing construction firm from Iowa, worked directly with the VCHR to print the home’s exterior walls.
Chris Thompson, Director of Strategic Housing for Virginia Housing, said, “The 3D-printed home has been a learning construction lab for us, so we took our time to learn as much as possible. Innovation can be messy. I’m proud we’re willing to take risks. We imported this technology from Denmark, so we had a lot to learn. All our partners, including the City of Richmond, went above and beyond. When we see a family open the front door of a home like this for the first time, it is magical.”
About the 3D-printed home:
- Crews used a large-format 3D printer from Danish company COBOD (Construction Of Buildings On Demand) to build concrete walls for the one-story home.
- RMT Construction & Development Group used traditional construction techniques to complete the concrete slab foundation, roof system and interior walls with oversight by project:HOMES. The three-bedroom, two-bath home is all-electric and includes vinyl plank floors, a kitchen island, laundry room and a covered front porch.
- The home is designed to be comfortable, durable and affordable to maintain. Its energy-saving features are designed to be more energy-efficient than code.
- Smart home sensors called “Building Data Lite” (using Raspberry Pi hardware) by VCHR will monitor indoor environmental data including air quality, temperature, humidity, lighting, sound, vibration, smoke, gases and security.
About the $500,000 grant from Virginia Housing:
Dr. Andrew McCoy and Dr. Philip Agee with the VCHR applied for the one-year grant to explore building affordable housing units with the goal of making them scalable across Virginia.
To learn about more affordable housing innovations, review our annual report: VirginiaHousing.com/FY21.