New Home Insights Podcast Episode 74 Transcript | John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Episode 73: New Home? We Will Get That Printed Right Away

 

Transcript

Dean Wehrli:

Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us here at the New Home Insights Podcast. This the John Burns Real Estate Consulting podcast about all things housing market. I’m your host, Dean Wehrli. Regular listeners to the podcast know that we love to understand the past and the present for almost any topic we tackle, but we’re often doing that to really better understand the future from very kind of future forward looking here.

Our topic today is something that is really all about the future. It’s going to be 3D home printing. The technology is still pretty new, I think, but it’s innovating at lightspeed it seems, and it’s very likely going to become a big part of the future of housing. To help us understand that future, we have Genji Nakata of Century Communities, one of the pioneers in 3D home printed homes. Genji is the executive vice president of national operations for Century where he heads up national purchasing, construction services, architecture, customer relations, and land development. Genji, how are you doing?

Genji Nakata:

Doing well, Dean. Thank you. Good afternoon, and thanks for having me on your podcast.

Dean Wehrli:

Absolutely. I’ve been looking forward to this. Why don’t we start with, tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do at Century, and we’ll move right on into the topic.

Genji Nakata:

Yeah. I’ve been at Century Communities for five years now, and as you just said, I head up our national purchasing, construction services, architecture, construction, customer relations, and win development teams. But honestly enough about that. Let’s talk about the revolutionary new homes and Mountain View Estates.

Dean Wehrli:

Oh, we’ll get to Mountain View Estates. I want to start super basics, I think that a lot of folks are going to not know a whole lot about 3D printed house, and other than just the very superficial ways, “Oh, I guess use a big old 3D printer and make a house.” So let’s start with some questions about process. Do you, let’s start right from the beginning. Do you Century Homes, do the printing yourself or is this done by an outside firm, just the same way you’d hire subs to build your homes?

Genji Nakata:

Yeah. No, Century Communities does not do the printing. Our partner Diamond Age is currently only printing the walls and drawing in the house, but starting in January, they will be delivering us full turnkey homes, ready for sale.

Dean Wehrli:

January of 2023. So very, very near future. If you’re listening to this right now, we’re recording this just a little bit before Christmas, so very soon by what Genji just said, they’ll be delivering a full house. So, first, let’s talk about, I mean, let’s go to something super basic. Honestly, what is the material that actually produces that house? I know that seems weird, like a weird question, but as I was thinking about this and what is actual, what is it made of?

Genji Nakata:

It’s regular concrete, gravel, concrete, sand, 3000 psi concrete that you typically use in any other construction method.

Dean Wehrli:

For some reason I thought it’d be something, special 3D printing concrete.

Genji Nakata:

It’s not like that. I believe some companies use a special concrete, but ours is standard concrete mix, which makes it readily available and really easy to find, source, and use.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. Okay. So walk us through the basic process, just the basic technology. You’re bringing a machine out there, or Diamond Age is onto the site. Just kind of start us off with the basic process of how you do this 3D home on site, how it gets built.

Genji Nakata:

Sure. Diamond Age’s technology centers around a multi-function site-based robot. The robot is essentially controlled from a command center in the field that coordinates robotic and manual operations, kind of like an air traffic control tower. It’s also important to note that Diamond Age’s robot is different than the other on the market as it has multiple tools that can attach to it. It’s not just a printhead that squirts out concrete. Diamond Age has 26 robotic tools in planning or production that do repetitive jobs like cutting, measuring, scanning, spraying, nailing, installing, injecting, setting trusses and windows and a number of other jobs. Diamond Age’s goal is to reduce the amount of labor it takes to build a house by 60%, thus significantly reducing the cost to build a home.

Dean Wehrli:

How much of it actually is literally printed? Is it like the kind of the frame, the internal walls, how much of that home winds up being that finished product home winds up being 3D printed?

Genji Nakata:

Yeah. All external and internal walls are 3D printed. So Diamond Age’s process starts out with a foundation like any other build. Then they go in and they measure the foundation with a laser, attach the robot to do a best fit analysis on the existing slab. Next they’ll set the anchors and the post-tension cables for the walls in the slab before starting to print the walls. As the walls are printed, all the mechanicals are built into the walls, as the concrete layers are stacked on top of one another.

At top out, or when the walls get to full height, the mechanical chases are completed, walls are insulated by the robot, top plates are placed on top of the walls and post tension cables are tightened to make the walls incredibly strong. Wall plastering and finishing along with painting and cabinet installation prep happen next. Then the robot places the trusses on top of the walls, which is the current final operation of the robot. In the future, Diamond Age will have the robot build more of the roof and exterior finishes, but for now, the robot’s just doing mostly the printing of the walls and installation and cutting.

Dean Wehrli:

A person is overseeing those robots? Right. We’ve said robots a lot. You’re making me nervous. You have someone there to make sure the robots don’t go insane like they do in documentaries I’ve seen?

Genji Nakata:

No, that’s exactly right. As I was kind of talking about the aircraft and control tower, there’s a onsite room which has two or three people on there controlling the robots.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. Shoot. I was worried just for a second there. Is there any kind of a hurdle to getting the, to trades to mesh to finish that, the rest of that home that is not manufactured by the 3D printing mechanism?

Genji Nakata:

Not really. Actually many mechanical trades actually find it easier to work on our Diamond Age homes as the conduits already kind of pulled for them during the printing process. Also, early involvement education has drastically lowered the bar for partnering with existing trades. In addition, our homes use off the shelf windows, doors, cabinet fixtures, and HVAC systems. So it really hasn’t been an issue.

Dean Wehrli:

So they’re ready to go. They’re used to, like I said, fitting the windows, things like that. They’ve done that. Whether stick-built or 3D printed, their job’s going to be more or less the same.

Genji Nakata:

That’s right. Really, it’s the mechanicals that’s different and in reality it’s actually easier than traditionally built home.

Dean Wehrli:

Huh. How about weather issues? Do you have the same… Does 3D still, can it be sort of slowed down by wet weather, things like that stick-built can be?

Genji Nakata:

Honestly, we can build these homes almost anywhere and the fact that we’ve been building these homes in Arizona the entire year, we’ve gone through freezing cold, incredible heat, the dust storms of Arizona, I mean, you name it, rainstorms, flood, we’ve gone through it this year and no issues.

Dean Wehrli:

That last one is key for in Arizona. What if you’re doing this in Louisiana or Florida where it’s going to be a lot wetter, would that slow things down you think?

Genji Nakata:

I don’t think so. Once the gantry are set up, they’re put on solid ground and they perform, any other trade would. Actually, I would say when it’s super, super muddy, they can still print. Whereas trades would have a hard time getting in and out of the site.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah. That is, I mean that right there, we’ll talk about a little bit about the process in terms of the timing and the cost in just a minute, but just right there, being able to work through wet weather can make a big difference in some places.

So let’s start, before we do cost and things like that. Let’s start off with product, the actual finished product that home in a very general way, how is… So the quality different for 3D printed home from stick built? What are some key differences, whether they’re better or worse?

Genji Nakata:

The quality is amazing. I’ve walked three and four of these homes now. We’ve had, we actually have six that are complete. Concrete’s more consistent. It’s stronger. It can be more carefully controlled than lumber. It has better strength and performance characteristics. And our concrete composite wall panels have over three times a thermal mass as a stick frame wall, make it incredibly efficient to heat and cool and incredibly quiet.

Dean Wehrli:

Three times? So I mean that’s that big of a difference in terms of the I mean, is that really going to demonstrably lower your heating and cooling bills because of that level of installation?

Genji Nakata:

It is. So just to get a little technical on you, an average 1400 square foot house that stick framed has about 40,000 pounds of thermal mass. The Diamond Age house has 140,000 pounds and if you picture it, if you put a two by four and a concrete block in a freezer at zero degrees and then you put both of those two things outside in a hundred degree weather, what do you think is going to get to 90 degrees first? That concrete block is going to keep that cold or that heat or whatever it started out with for a significantly longer period of time than wood will. Or to give you another analogy, if you have a glass of ice, if you have two glasses and one has one ice cube in it and one you filled with water and froze the entire thing and put them both out in the sun, which glass do you think is going to melt quicker? And that’s how mass works.

Dean Wehrli:

The one in Phoenix, clearly. For sure.

Genji Nakata:

Yeah, of course, for sure.

Dean Wehrli:

It’s always, always the one in Phoenix, no matter what kind of glass you have. I mean, does that greater mass, does that make it heavier? Is it literally… A 3D house literally heavier than a stick belt house?

Genji Nakata:

It is.

Dean Wehrli:

You mention, I interrupted you by the way. What other major differences might be in that quality and the product different from?

Genji Nakata:

Well, those concrete composite wall panels not only have that thermal mass, it has probably twice the R value. It’s like R value of 38 versus 13. So they’re incredibly efficient from that standpoint, and they’re incredibly quiet. Dean, it’s amazing. When you’re in these homes, you can essentially yell from one end of the house to the other and you can hardly hear yourself. When you’re in them. As far as outside noise is concerned, you don’t hear car traffic, you don’t hear your neighbors. It’s incredibly quiet. It’s pretty special.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s a huge, huge benefit in my mind. Are you saying that in a 3D printed house, no one can hear you scream. Is that… That’s sad. Are we going to write a screenplay together and sell? Yeah, maybe that sounds

Genji Nakata:

Maybe. I mean, honestly, the only weak point is the doors you put in the house, but it is significantly quieter than a standard build house.

Dean Wehrli:

So if you have good doors, good dual pained windows, you can shut out those super annoying neighbors who always seem to have that-

Genji Nakata:

That’s exactly right.

Dean Wehrli:

Party outside because they’re rude. Sorry, personal experience. The next biggest question you always hear about 3D printed is just the variety, not just the quality of the house like we’re talking about here, but the look, the style, the features and finishes. Let’s start with that, just a basic floor plan. How varied can 3D printed floor plans be?

Genji Nakata:

They can be extremely variable. The technology allows for almost anything given normal structural engineering constraints.

Dean Wehrli:

Do you get a lot of this kind of pushback that okay, you think of somehow manufactured housing for whatever that’s worth, or even offsite constructed housing as kind of pretty tight constraints in terms of the shapes and the kind of massing they can do and especially the variety of the look and the elevation. Is that not the case? I mean, is the sky the limit? Is the slate pretty blank here for 3D?

Genji Nakata:

Yeah, I mean we can currently build anything that’s single story and fits inside a 38 by 85 foot building envelope. We can build up to a 10 foot plate height and by this time next year we should be able to build our first two story home with all concrete composite walls.

Dean Wehrli:

We’ll talk about that in a minute. I can’t wait to get to the two story, because that opens up lots of things. But you do have some restraints with respect to the building envelope and you do have for now a single story constraint. Does that kind of produce a built-in size constraint? What kind of home sizes are we going to see in 3D printed homes, at least in the near term?

Genji Nakata:

Well, Mountain View Estates has three four plans right now, 14, 16, and 1900 approximately square feet. All single story. And they’re all incredibly affordably priced.

Dean Wehrli:

Just go ahead and tell the folks at home Mountain View Estates is one of your Phoenix area subdivisions that’s about to come out. Tell us a little bit about that real quick.

Genji Nakata:

It’s a great community in Casa Grande overlooking the mountains. That’s why we call it Mountain View Estates. As I said, three, four plans from 14 to 1900 square feet and they all start in the high $200,000 range. So we’re super, super excited to bring these homes to market.

Dean Wehrli:

That’s remarkable. Now if just your guess, you don’t have to give us any inside scoop here, but for a similar stick built home, what would you expect that to be priced given? The same with Mountain View Estates.

Genji Nakata:

It’s probably going to be priced pretty similar, which we’re really excited about. You get all the advantages of a composite concrete wall panels and a 3D printed home and you’re paying the same price. So as far as direct costs are concerned, or build costs are concerned right now they’re about the same. Once Diamond Age is able to automate additional processes in the build process, then the cost should come significantly down.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. Let’s get to cost in just a second. Let’s finish up and tie it out on product first if you can. I mean, not to beat the dead horse, but how offsite homes have that kind of, I don’t know, kind of a rough shape and structure inside. Just to be clear, for a 3D printed home within at least an envelope and that basic size, you can do just anything you want, right?

Genji Nakata:

No, that’s right. I mean, first of all, modulars typically have to stay within that kind of 16 to 18 foot wide envelope for transportation regions. And we don’t have that constraint. We don’t have to truck these homes anywhere. This is a factory in the field. We build these onsite and anything goes, I mean, exteriors can be finished in stucco, smooth plaster, siding or masonry interiors are finished with plaster and can be either smooth or textured. These homes look like a traditional home with exception to deeper window sills and door jams, which I think is a selling feature. It looks more custom. They look great when you walk through them.

Dean Wehrli:

Because how thick are the walls? Just literally how thick do they, are they typically the outside walls, let’s say.

Genji Nakata:

The walls are about eight inches thick.

Dean Wehrli:

Eight inches, okay.

Genji Nakata:

Approximately.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. And then terms of, so they have that kind of concrete structure of course, but on the outside you can do whatever you want, anything at all, so that elevation can be whatever the hot style is in that market at that time.

Genji Nakata:

That’s exactly right.

Dean Wehrli:

I will be honest with you, it is much more varied and much more flexible, 3D printing is, than I realized. Are we going to see more customy? Customy, that’s not a word, but let’s pretend it is. How custom are we going to get with 3D? Well, people will be able to say somebody with pretty deep pockets be able to say, “Hey, give me the home in the Simpsons or the home of the Flintstones, because I’m a huge fan.” Will we get something like that.

Genji Nakata:

You absolutely could. But that isn’t really Century Communities or the Century Complete teams business model. We like to keep things really simple so we can keep our prices down and our quality high for our customers. But to answer your question, yes, you can get as customy as you want.

Dean Wehrli:

I’m just saying think about it, little Disney tie-in Magic Castle. I’m just throwing it out there. Pinocchio’s house. I don’t know, did he have a house? I’m not sure.

Genji Nakata:

Do not quote me, but yes, you could do it if you wanted to.

Dean Wehrli:

I think, I honestly don’t. You think someone’s going to do that in the not too distant future? Somebody probably.

Genji Nakata:

No, absolutely.

Dean Wehrli:

Silicon Valley bro is going to have some TV movie kind of a house, don’t you think?

Genji Nakata:

Absolutely. You’re going to look up on a hill in Silicon Valley and you’re going to see the Jetson’s House or the Iron Man house up there after, 100%.

Dean Wehrli:

Oh, I can’t wait. That’ll be fun. Okay, so now let’s scoot back into cost and those kinds of issues. ‘Cause I know that’s also, that’s another one that when it comes up with 3D is the expectation is that there is going to be at least eventually a pretty significant cost benefit. Right, now, the cost benefit with stick built, if I heard you right, is that it’s roughly the same.

Genji Nakata:

Yeah, as far as costs are concerned, they’re about the same. But as I said, as Diamond Age automates additional build processes, the costs should come down significantly. They will come down significantly.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. And that’s the onsite, the vertical construction cost, right. You have nothing to do with any developments, just the pure vertical construction costs are about the same as stick belt for now.

Genji Nakata:

That’s right. Regardless of whether you traditionally built a home or a 3D print a home, you still start with the same finish lot and the same foundation. Yeah.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay. Well actually that brings it up though. So the foundation is going to be very similar despite that your 3D house is a little heavier, that’s not going to have an impact on your foundation.

Genji Nakata:

It’s a little beefed up, but essentially for you and me looking at the foundation, it looks exactly the same. Okay. The biggest advantage though, Dean, is the cycle time. The cycle time are significantly faster. Our cycle times on our first six houses have been under 60 days. Our guess is in the next year to year and a half, that cycle time should come down to 45 days. And that will be a huge, not only savings in time, but also cost.

Dean Wehrli:

Two year, let’s say before the supply chain disruption, what was the typical cycle of time for a Century home, say 2019? In 2019, what was your stick built cycle time, approximately for a Century home of a similar size?

Genji Nakata:

I’d say five to six months in that market.

Dean Wehrli:

Five, Okay. Yep. I would’ve guessed four to six months. So that’s a huge, huge time difference, isn’t it?

Genji Nakata:

Yep. Big time savings.

Dean Wehrli:

I mean, that’s amazing. Can there be hiccups in the timing because of, you mentioned a minute ago how the subs seem to be involved. Are there different kinds of potential hurdles that maybe stick built doesn’t face but 3D does face in that cycle time?

Genji Nakata:

I mean, there could be, but so far we haven’t seen an issue.

Dean Wehrli:

I’m just trying to think of, I’m not sure what that would be. I mean, the process is fairly, I mean it is… It’s highly technologically sophisticated, but it is actually, once you get the machine there and you’re starting to printing, that’s fairly straightforward, isn’t it?

Genji Nakata:

Yep, that’s exactly right. And again, the more tools Diamond Age can create, the more automation they can bring into the build process, the simpler it gets, the more predictable it gets, the faster it gets and the less expensive it gets.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah, things always… Things usually get better. Not everything. Mostly technology gets better and more expensive after it gets cheaper and then more expensive. So I mean, you said there’s the labor issues really aren’t issues. You’re finding it pretty easy. Get these folks trained and then one, like you said, the windows and things like that. It’s their normal job. They’re used to it. How about supply chain? You have a different, not necessarily the windows and things like that, that you have in common with stick built, but in terms specific to the 3D process, are there supply chain issues that you face?

Genji Nakata:

I mean, the only really difference is the amount of concrete we use. So if we had a supply chain issue for concrete in a particular market, it would be an issue for this product. But again, so far there hasn’t been an issue. And Phoenix actually has been relatively limited with regards to concrete over the last year or so and hasn’t been an issue. So, so far, so good.

Dean Wehrli:

And you mentioned a minute ago how, at least in your Mountain View Estates development here coming out of the market very, very soon, it’s going to be priced pretty. It sounds, I don’t know the Phoenix market that well, but it’s going to be priced very, very competitively, if not on maybe even a little under its competition. Do you think?

Genji Nakata:

We’re right at it. I mean, all three, floor plans start in the high 200,000 range. So again, we’re really, really excited to be offering this revolutionary, very special product to our customers for a very affordable price.

Dean Wehrli:

You can tell I’m based in California. I have worked in Phoenix a few times, but not that often. So when you say $300,000, it’s like, “So that’s an ad, right?” In our world?

Genji Nakata:

No, Dean, I grew up in California. I’m with you on that one. I’m pretty surprised every single time we sell a house in the $200,000 range, but we do it a lot for Century Complete.

Dean Wehrli:

How about in that other kind of big issue that’s out in the housing market, in the housing industry really as a whole right now, is things like sustainability, recycled waste materials, things like that. Is there a benefit for 3D along those lines?

Genji Nakata:

Absolutely. There’s very little waste in a Diamond Age build as compared to a traditional build. Diamond Age recycles waste concrete, and there are no dumpsters on the job site. So we’ve seen a significant reduction in waste and trash.

Dean Wehrli:

Really?

Genji Nakata:

Through this build process.

Dean Wehrli:

It’s like hiking. You have to carry out what you carry in kind of a thing.

Genji Nakata:

That’s exactly right.

Dean Wehrli:

No dumpsters.

Genji Nakata:

And when you only have a water bottle and a power bar. It’s really easy to do that.

Dean Wehrli:

And you better put that wrapper into your backpack. Are you finding that an appeal? I don’t know. Will you emphasize that when you’re marketing Mountain View Estates for instance, is that something that’s going to be a part of your collateral and you’re going to market on that basis?

Genji Nakata:

I mean, we talk a little bit about sustainability, but mostly we talk about the benefits of the concrete composite walls, the energy efficiency, the incredible noise properties or noise reducing properties of the walls being strong and durable, low maintenance cost. I mean, we talk about sustainable construction, but mostly we’re talking about high quality construction and the livability and comfort of the homes all. And you get all that for that kind of traditional look and feel. It doesn’t look space age, it looks like a house you grew up in. It’s just incredibly strong, efficient, and quiet.

Dean Wehrli:

And last year that Silicon Valley tycoon and he wanted to look space age, then I want dolphins in my living room like in 2010. So you mentioned as energy efficient. Are there other benefits? Is the circulation? Could you describe it as a healthier house with respect to things like mold or circulation or stuff like that? Or is that sort of standard with stick built too?

Genji Nakata:

Whenever you take out things like drywall and wood, things that absorb moisture and absorb water and replace it with concrete, something a little bit less porous, it’s always a benefit.

Dean Wehrli:

Let’s now shift over to consumers and how you market these and how consumers are accepting or not accepting. If there’s any wariness in the consumer world out there, among home buyers, potential home buyers, is there a marketing hurdle? Is it just something like just the pure newness of 3D printing? Is there something you are finding you have to educate the potential home buyers out there about?

Genji Nakata:

The only hurdle we have is how we’re going to get our customers to understand the benefits of these homes. The energy efficiency, the noise reducing properties, the walls being incredibly strong and durable. Fortunately, they look exactly the same as a traditionally built house. So that’s not an issue for us. It’s more about the education of the benefits of the house. So the consumers understand the differences between a 3D printed Diamond Age home and a traditionally built home.

Dean Wehrli:

But there’s still going to be an acceptance phase. There’s an acceptance phase for everything. And I mean, I assume you’re just going to have to start building more of these. As people walk these models and see them, they’re going to realize, “Okay, yeah.” But then aren’t they going to have to here from other people that, “Oh, they really are, they’ve really saved me on my energy bill.” That kind of thing. That’ll take a little bit of time, won’t it?

Genji Nakata:

More than likely. I mean, you’re going to have early adopters like anything else that will do the research and understand the technology and the science behind it and go ahead and engage. And then you’re going to have some people who are going to kind of wait and see.

Dean Wehrli:

On the noise factor, that’s easy. You just, you have two people there. You take one of them in one room, close the door, you take the other one in the other room, and then just blare a radio or something like that. And they come out and say, did you hear it? And they say, no, I didn’t hear anything. And boom, sale.

Genji Nakata:

No, that’s exactly right. And in addition, you can go start your car outside and honk your horn and see how much more quiet it is inside in the house.

Dean Wehrli:

“Swear I was playing so loud. The car was vibrating. You didn’t hear anything?” That’ll be good. So getting past these hurdles, I mean, are you actively, again, in your marketing materials, et cetera, are you addressing those kinds of concerns head on in your marketing?

Genji Nakata:

We absolutely are. Marketing, communicating with our customers and our broker community at a grassroots level will be the key to getting people to understand the benefits of these new homes in Mountain View Estates. 100%.

Dean Wehrli:

Now, I’m assuming, again, my lack of Phoenix market knowledge is shown here, but I’m pretty sure that the price points you’re talking about are, this will be an entry level kind of price point at Mountain View Estates. Is that correct?

Genji Nakata:

It will be. Or you could be coming from a resale home and want a new home with the energy efficiency properties of these Century Complete Mountain View state homes. So you can do either one.

Dean Wehrli:

Is that where the focus is, sorry. Is that where the focus is right now? Century Complete is your entry level brand is, are you going to be focused on that part, that niche within the housing market for a little while with 3D?

Genji Nakata:

Yep. Our tagline for Century Complete is More Home, Less Money and these 3D printed homes all align with that goal.

Dean Wehrli:

You don’t want to use, “No one can hear you scream in 3D home.” You don’t want to use that? You can have it if you want to use that. It’s my treat. When do you think 3D might hit the, let’s say just the move up sector? Is that near term? Is that?

Genji Nakata:

I mean, again, Century Communities, especially our Century Complete team are laser focused on building affordable homes. We’ll continue to focus on building these groundbreaking new homes in Mountain View Estates and other communities in the Phoenix market before we consider incorporating this product into our move up markets or in our move up communities.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay.

Genji Nakata:

It’s probably going to be a little bit of time.

Dean Wehrli:

A little bit of time. Okay. Maybe this question is too soon, but do you think when 3D printing does sort of hit the move up market, you might have to reeducate those folks? Because those folks typically have a little more flexibility in terms of what they buy. They have a little more choices, given different price, higher price point. Do you think you’ll have to sort of reteach that sector when that does occur?

Genji Nakata:

I don’t think so. These homes are incredibly flexible from a design standpoint and again, will look and feel just like the home you grew up in, only with increased energy efficiency and comfort and lower maintenance costs.

Dean Wehrli:

So let’s continue this crystal ball look into the future. What do you think are the biggest technological hurdles to there be more 3D printed homes in the future?

Genji Nakata:

I think the main issue will be the number of gantry and robotic tools that Diamond Age will be able to produce in the next year or two. Those two things will allow them to scale up very quickly so we can incorporate this product in more markets in Arizona and across the country. I mean, Diamond Age has developed about a third of the 26 robotic tools that they have in the works. So they’re getting close. We believe in Diamond Age and look forward to them accomplishing their goal, replacing 60% of the manual labor required to build a single family home with automation.

Dean Wehrli:

You mentioned two story, we talked about that. You touched on that for a second, but do you have any sense of when the two story world of 3D printing might be upon us?

Genji Nakata:

I think late next year or early 2024, we would’ve started our first two story home.

Dean Wehrli:

Wow, that’s a lot faster than I thought you were going to say. Do you mean that, so you’ll still be doing two story entry level Century Complete homes. Do you think 3D printing might though invade the world of multi-family with the ability to go multi stories?

Genji Nakata:

I think so. As long as it fits in the ultimate construction envelope of approximately 65 feet by about 120 feet entirely possible.

Dean Wehrli:

When we say two stories though, are we thinking, I mean, could you do three, fours, like a three story garden style apartment complex? Is that feasible to be 3D printed in the not too distant future?

Genji Nakata:

Don’t know. I’m really confident we’ll have a two story, two story single family, two story townhouse, but anything more than two story may take a little bit longer.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay.

Genji Nakata:

Okay. The limiting factor is the height of the gantry

Dean Wehrli:

Really. Okay. Okay.

Genji Nakata:

Yeah.

Dean Wehrli:

Well then, I mean that seems like that’s something that’s solvable, I think with my complete technological ignorance in that regard.

Genji Nakata:

I think you’re right.

Dean Wehrli:

Seems like it is.

Genji Nakata:

But I know Diamond Age is focused on other things like getting their suite of robotic tools complete, getting that two story gantry done and scaling up so we can be in more than just a couple communities at the same time.

Dean Wehrli:

So you’re starting in Arizona. Do you have a sense of where Century Communities might be going to after Arizona with 3D printed homes?

Genji Nakata:

Probably Texas and Florida. Texas is another great market for this product from a demographic standpoint, and it would actually be a lot of fun to showcase Diamond Age’s incredibly strong composite wall system in a market that has extreme weather like Florida.

Dean Wehrli:

Oh yeah. Oh for sure. Yeah. I mentioned Florida with that wet weather and especially the process, if your cycle times are pretty close to the cycle times you get in Arizona, in Florida, that’s a win.

Genji Nakata:

Yeah, they should be no different.

Dean Wehrli:

Are there tech and training and kind of label hurdles going forward? For instance, will it be something different when you are doing two story homes? Do you think that’ll be any kind of a constraint or at least again, another sort of the need to educate your subs and folks like that?

Genji Nakata:

Again, I think getting over the production hurdles is going to be all about Diamond Age’s ability to scale up and finish developing their suite of robotic tools. Like you said, a two story I don’t think is going to be an issue. Once the gantry are designed and developed, printing a two story home is going to be very, very similar to printing a one story home.

Dean Wehrli:

Okay.

Genji Nakata:

It’s just a matter of how much of that home are we able to automate quickly.

Dean Wehrli:

Yeah, I mean, it’s an exciting time. I think 3D homes are, I sense about offsite and offsite is an important part of the process, but 3D homes make just a tremendous amount of sense. We hope it’s not like how virtual reality has kind of come and gone, come and gone. It’s going to be the next big thing, but it never quite is. Do you see 3D home as being kind of the next big thing? 3D printed homes?

Genji Nakata:

I think it could be huge. There’s no bigger opportunity today than the need for affordable housing. That’s why we love our Century Complete brand and our partnership with Diamond Age.

Dean Wehrli:

I’m going to put you on the spot with a question and oh, I don’t know, let’s say 20 years, what is the market share of 3D printed homes of all newly constructed single-family homes? Go.

Genji Nakata:

20%.

Dean Wehrli:

Woo. Nice. We’re going to help you do that in 20 years, episode 4,000 of the New Home Insides Podcast, by that point, we hope.

Thank you a lot for educating us about 3D printed homes. It’s a lot I didn’t know, but that’s always true, for me. But this has been interesting. This is one topic that I do think we’ll talk about again in the not too distant future and will be a big part of that housing future.

Genji Nakata:

Dean, it was a pleasure talking to you. Again, thank you for having me on your podcast.

Dean Wehrli:

Absolutely.

Genji Nakata:

Look forward talking to you again.

Dean Wehrli:

Right on. Sounds good, Genji, this has been the New Home Insights Podcast. I’m your host, Dean Wehrli. We will see you again in a couple of weeks.


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