Everyone knows California is one of the most challenging markets for construction. The rules are strict, taxes are high and everything is wildly expensive. A quick google search will tell you the average construction cost in CA is $400-$600 a sqft in 2022 (modular coming in at $200-$300).
3D printed construction startup Emergent 3D was recently the first to print a permitted building in California. They used a Cobod printer and unlike some other groups without construction experience they are a spin-off from a General Contracting company Don Ajamian runs. Matthew Gile is the founder of Emergent and Don Ajaimian is the CEO, I had them both on my podcast. If you have a listen, note the link to part 2 in the description.
(this is a long article it continues below the video)
I also got to witness the first print day on their second building under construction. They were extremely transparent and had no issues with me filming any part of the project which is highly appreciated! When it comes to innovation, things aren’t always pretty. Part of new technologies is working out the bugs and quirks, 3DCP is certainly not immune to these technological & mechanical hiccups. Emergent handled everything very smoothly, the groups you need to worry about are the ones that are too afraid to let you watch a print!
Let’s talk about the price of a 3D printed house. How much does it really cost to 3D print a home? That answer is going to vary wildly in different regions because that is the nature of construction. You will also find many groups who bend the truth or only share the parts which are convenient (also often the nature of construction).
I believe Don Ajamian is among the few accurately reporting on their cost to 3D print buildings in California. This can be credited to his construction experience and integrity. In a linkedin post linked below Don says Quote-“When I recently mentioned to someone that the cost to build their home would be around $350/SF, their response surprised me and once again revealed the major confusion, misinformation, and variability in this discussion. The response I received was that they heard that they can get their home built for ‘$40 to $60 per square foot’. When I pressed them on this number, they insisted that this information was correct.
Needless to say, I won’t be building their home, but I am equally confident that their 1,200 square foot house will ultimately cost them far more than $72,000.”-End Quote.
So whats with the discrepancy? Later in the post Don mentions the following Quote-“What about scope? When a contractor quotes a cost per square foot, are they including the cost of the plans? Permits? Landscaping? Fencing? Appliances? These items alone can add $60/SF or more to the cost of building the house, but these items aren’t always included in the “off-the-cuff” cost per square foot conversation.”-End Quote.
2021 and 2022 marked a time when people conducted very little due diligence in many areas. This is evident in cases like the FTX scandal or even the housing market where some buyers who paid over ask are now underwater on loans. Let’s keep 3DCP off that list by fostering truthfulness and giving credit where credit is due for the groups that don’t use deceptive tactics to mask the realities of the industry. How can you make sure you don’t get fooled? I hope this article can help, if you watch the print day you will see how they overcame issues in full transparency. If you listen to the podcast you will hear about how Matthew and Don built Emergent 3D from the ground up, and if you read the Linkedin post from Don at the link you will understand more closely the true cost of 3D printed construction in California.
Support my citizen journalism by signing up for the Automation Nation, a private members only subscription to an up to date list of concrete printer manufacturers, virtual 360 tours of 3D printed buildings, a community forum and more. Signup at https://automateconstruction.com/nation!