You will have all heard about 3D printers being used to make handguns, how about using them to build a house?
Soon there will be a new addition to the tall, thin and slightly crooked houses that line the canals in Amsterdam. This month a project has been launched to build a demonstration house by fabricating a series of pieces of plastic with a 3-D printer. These blocks will then be filled with a foam material that will harden like concrete to add additional weight and bind the pieces together to form the house (see the offical website here).
Although this may seem like a gimmick or a tourist attraction, the aim is rather to test out and spread the word about the potential uses of 3-D printing in construction. This technology could allow for architectural designs to be customised on the spot or chosen from an online catalogue. New blocks can be easily added to allow for remodelling. The people behind this project intend for it to be constantly changing to showcase the new technology as it develops (the construction site also doubles as an exhibition where the public can view the project as it develops).
As new technologies for the creation and installation of building materials are perfected and used by the public, it will be interesting to see how the law responds. If building an entire structure the construction would need to comply with current code and consent processes. However, if being used on a smaller scale, for example alterations or additions these technologies may require regulation to ensure that they provide an adequate warranty for the property owner. Parties undertaking to build a kitset home without an architect need to consider the extra liability they may be taking on with the project management and councils may have to assess whether these meet consent and code of compliance criteria.