Executive at sustainable residential real estate developer
- Advantages and disadvantages to 3D house printing
- Impacts of lack of labour availability
- Applicability of on- and off-site models
- Lennar (NYSE: LEN) and Icon partnership
- Market size and potential growth trajectory, including ability to print additional materials for further expansion
Could you give a general overview of modular construction, given you mentioned 3D printing of homes and home materials falls under a larger category of this? How has 3D begun to fit into this umbrella term?
Could you break down the advantages and disadvantages of utilising 3D printing to construct new homes vs what we would consider traditional home construction?
Where are we in the building speed for a 3D-printed frame from start to finish of the home, to your mention of speed being an advantage of 3D printing? How does it compare to traditional building?
Waste and reduction tends to be mentioned a lot around 3D home printing. Where are the biggest gains from waste reduction?
What regulation challenges have you come across so far? You mentioned regulation is one of the disadvantages to 3D home printing, and there are obviously code considerations and similar factors. Could there be a need for changes to code? I would assume this is a whole other can of worms based on different towns and geographies.
I would assume regulation would be one of the primary challenges for the scalability of 3D printing, dealing with so many different government entities based on state and town that it won’t be a sweeping regulation change that would immediately apply across geographies. Is that fair?
Cost is another disadvantage you highlighted. It’s well-understood that the higher the volume, the higher the number of homes we’re dealing with here, which means economies of scale and cost savings. We’re not at that point yet. It’s been very small numbers relative to the overall housing market, but it still seems to be cost-effective relative to traditional building. Is this fair to say? Have 3D-printed homes been very competitive with traditional builds?
It seems there’s such a lack of available skilled labour and it’s so difficult to get people on-site to begin building in those high-demand homebuilding markets that you just mentioned. I think we observed a lot of this come to fruition, and demand has shot up over the past few years. Is this one of the primary catalysts for the fairly new adoption of 3D home printing? Is it also a core advantage?
Would there be a movement towards 3D home printing if there was more labour availability? Is the industry move towards 3D printing and constructions a natural iteration of homebuilding that’s occurring? Is it more strictly driven by a fairly large rise in demand due to the pandemic, coupled with a lack of available homes and labour?
It seems skilled labour won’t be returning to the homebuilding market in the near term. Would you agree? Are you expecting an influx or increase in available labour in homebuilding, or is this lack of available labour a new normal?
Are there any advantages with a 3D-printed home being more dependent on automation and robotics vs the human element in traditional construction labour? Does this reduce the variability of cost and speed of construction? The lack of available labour was one of the biggest complaints from homebuilders in 2021, and the human factor causes a lot of variability in the construction and cost of homes. Would that variability be reduced by more automation being implemented in this process, and could this be a key advantage for 3D printing?
Both the on- and off-site models seem to have their advantages. Is it likely that both will gain traction in homebuilding? Is one likely to become more popular than the other?
Is there any edge to either the on-site or off-site model around cost-effectiveness? Is each model applicable to a certain type of home?
What are your thoughts on the Icon-Lennar partnership, given this seems to be the first larger-scale project a 3D printer will be taking on? What particular announcements or performance metrics should we monitor throughout 2022 as this partnership takes hold? Do you think these types of homes will be accepted and sought after by people in these markets?
Do 3D-printed homes look quite different from what we would think of as a traditionally constructed home? Are they fairly similar? Do you expect consumers to accept these slightly different-looking residential homes?
Are these 3D-printed homes being constructed out of concrete?
Might homebuilding companies eventually have the ability to utilise materials outside of concrete? I know concrete is very common in the southeast and southwest US, much more to the southwest, in California and such, but not necessarily in the north. Is there penetration potential in different regions by using different materials?
Do you think Mighty Buildings and Icon will have a combined on- and off-site offering if 3D-printed homes gain traction? How does this business model develop and become scalable?
Might the cost decrease dramatically as a company scales, to the point where there will be a fairly drastic differential between traditionally constructed homes and 3D-printed homes? As the market develops, there’s more volume and you gain economies of scale, will that be a core advantage for 3D home printers, meaning they can produce at a much lower cost so their homes can be priced at a much lower cost? Could this occur in the longer term?
Could major homebuilders adopt 3D printing internally? Do you expect large builders such as Lennar to internally purchase 3D printing assets or start a 3D printing segment? Could this be a subcontracting business model in which the builders subcontract out that work, given they do so much other work?
Is there anything around 3D house printing you’d like to highlight?
Do you think there will be many more companies such as Icon and Mighty Buildings due to the macro trends that you’re discussing? Is this a fairly high barriers-to-entry-type industry where it will be consolidated into a few large players?
What’s your outlook for Icon and Mighty Buildings’ development? Are they potential acquisition targets or likely PE plays? Do you expect them to enter the public markets in the near term?
What key things are you monitoring in 2022? What should we monitor as the 3D house printing market continues to develop?
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