LOS ANGELES — Living in a 3D printed home sounds like science-fiction, but with a shortage of available homes on the market, it may become a necessity, if not commonplace.
Homebuyer Holger Kurtward is not looking for a traditional home. Currently living in downtown L.A., he wants something smaller that allows him to get away from the density, he said.
“Ever since COVID hit, my husband and I were trying to find a way to get out of the city, so we did a lot of research and we found ADU and we really think this is the way to go,” said Kurtward, who's a first-time homebuyer.
Made of acrylic photopolymers, accessory dwelling units, known as ADUs, designed by Mighty Buildings are more resilient than concrete and resistant to fire, moisture, water, and earthquakes. But despite the advantages, ADUs are also known as granny flats.
Kurtward owns a CGI company so he said he's looking for a home with a modern sensibility and more importantly, style.
“When you think ADUs, you don’t really think that they are going to be really your design aesthetic and what we found out in [the] research is that it has a lot of glass, a lot of openness, and it makes it look really fresh and clean and modern,” Kurtward said.
At 350 square feet, an ADU can be 3D printed in a day with the fixtures and appliances added later. Ninety percent is completed in the factory until it’s shipped to the site. The whole process takes two weeks, which means Kurtward can be living in it by the end of the month.
“At my company, we work with 3D printers as well, but at a much smaller scale, and to see a home like this, like this size, come out of a 3D printer, is really amazing,” Kurtward said.
When the average cost for affordable housing in L.A. County is over $500,000 due to skilled labor shortages and construction costs, 3D printing ADUs can fill a much-needed gap. The biggest hurdle is the permit process, which can take up to 60 days.
“[The] home buying industry changed, especially you know with COVID-19, and ADUs are a great source of opportunities for clients and homeowners to recreate the whole new space in their backyard or put it in the middle of the desert because it can be done within weeks,” Nataly Dobrynina, director of sales at Mighty Buildings, said.
Despite record unemployment, first-time homebuyers are driving growth along with interest rates for 30-year loans well under 3 percent, but experts say it’s changing needs such as working from home that is driving sales. Modular and flexible, ADUs can be used as a backyard office space or living space.
“I can really see myself living in an ADU and I think what a great thing about it is if more people adapt to it and think about the environmental footprint they want to leave behind, this is a great way to do it,” Kurtward said.