3D printed houses – Opinion – Business Recorder
In some parts of the world, houses are being built using 3D printing technology. Countries as rich as the United States and as poor as Malawi are building homes using this technology which not only dramatically lowers the cost of construction, but also dramatically reduces the time it takes to complete construction. It is said that you can print a house in just 12 hours, with a price of less than Rs 1,000,000!
The use of this technology is growing in the Middle East and Asia. The government of Dubai wants a quarter of the country’s new buildings to be 3D printed by 2030, and dedicates a district on the outskirts of its eponymous capital to accommodate 3D printing companies and their warehouses. Saudi Arabia wants to use 3D printing to build 1.5m houses over the next decade. And India’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs wants to use 3D printing to alleviate the housing shortage in the country.
In Pakistan, we also suffer from a huge housing shortage. Affordable housing has remained an unattainable desire for most Pakistanis. There is a backlog of about ten million dwellings in the country of which about 3.5 to 4 million are in the urban area and most for low income groups. However, given that on average only 300,000 housing units are built each year, the backlog continues to swell. Perhaps this is the reason why 68% of the Pakistani population has only 1% of the total housing stock, while 56% of the housing stock goes to 12% of the upper income brackets. Indeed, there is a huge unmet demand for affordable housing in urban areas, especially for the working classes and low and lower middle income segments.
The abadis and slums of Katchi have sprouted all over our towns to serve those who fail to find affordable shelter in towns and villages as demand for housing continues to rise as supply remains too far behind . And from time to time, we see official heartless campaigns to evict the poorest of the poor from these katchi abadis and shanty towns.
Despite the huge demand for housing, the overall contribution of housing finance has remained very low in Pakistan – less than one percent of GDP. Stakeholders argue that multiple risks impact the performance of the housing finance sector. The lack of transparency in real estate markets would be a major constraint. The market has not been able to meet the growing demand to provide housing stock at affordable prices. An individual earning between Rs 20,000 and Rs 25,000 per month (working in the public / private or independent sector) and responsible for the upkeep of his nuclear family as well as extended family members would save (after all expenses related to rent , food, utilities, transport and miscellaneous are deducted) no more than Rs1,500. With an average person saving Rs 1,500 and an average land of 80 square meters costing Rs 700,000, it would take almost 40 years before they could afford such a land. The result is the current housing crisis facing Pakistan.
The recent announcement of a long list of tax and other benefits to the construction industry, including the fact that real estate activity has been granted industry status, would surely encourage increased investment activity in the construction industry. housing sector. And what is most interesting about this package is that it grants a generous amnesty in exchange for an investment in construction. No questions asked about the money to invest in the home building business. But then the fixed rate tax applied to the business of building new homes guarantees immense benefits even to those who wish to invest their white money in building homes.
And aware that investors would continue to avoid housing for the poor despite the introduction of the foreclosure law, the government at the same time announced a public sector housing program called the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme with a subsidy. of Rs 30 billion. Already thousands of people have registered to take advantage of the benefits of this program.
At first glance, the package of concessions announced for starting up the housing construction industry contains exactly the right kind of financial and other in-kind incentives to provide the low- and middle-income population of the country with access. affordable housing. But without Naya’s housing program in Pakistan, the government’s plot seems to have gotten lost in the usual black hole of the private sector maze. And it appears that the private sector part of the program was designed to benefit the rich and powerful, Pakistan’s true ruling elite, not the poorest part of society. It seems that by the end of this program, that is, by September 30, 2022, the rich will have built more huge villas and spacious apartments for themselves, thus laundering billions of dollars. their unreported contaminated money without paying legitimate taxes on those declared. black money while working classes and low and middle income groups would continue to be denied access to affordable housing.
The private sector has never responded honestly to any of the past amnesty programs to declare its booty black and there are concerns that it will continue to do so even during the implementation of the new house building program. In fact, one cannot exclude the possibility that using real estate to further camouflage evaded and unearned income from corruption, smuggling and black marketing would do another big murder using the new regime.
Therefore, in order to safeguard the interests of the poorest segments of the population and allow them to have easy access to affordable housing, the government must ban the construction of houses on land beyond 120 square meters and restrict only vertical housing programs and not isolated houses in urban areas. And to prevent rent seeking unscrupulous items from being an easily accessible haven to hide their loot, the government should legally make it nearly impossible for the private sector to invest in housing construction by declaring it a strictly business. public sector and divert private sector investment towards building physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railways, etc.
As a result of this, the government could take a fairly close look at three-dimensional (3d) printing technology for low-cost housing construction for low-income people and quickly too. This technology has been around since the early 1980s, but is now gaining momentum. It’s already used to make things ranging from orthopedic implants to aircraft components. The details vary depending on the products and processes involved, but the underlying principle is the same. A layer of material is deposited and somehow secured in place. Then another is placed on it. Then another. Then another. By varying the shape, and sometimes the composition of each layer, we can make objects that would be difficult or even impossible to produce with conventional techniques. Plus, unlike conventional manufacturing processes, no material is wasted.
For houses printed in California, the printers used are rather larger than those required for the artificial knees and wing tips, and the materials a bit coarser. But the principle is the same. The nozzles extrude a paste (in this case a composite) which is then cured and cured by ultraviolet light. Parts like gutters and ceilings are printed without the need for support molds, as well as simpler things like walls. These are then assembled on site and attached to a permanent foundation by construction workers.
Not only does 3D printing allow for greater versatility and faster construction, it also promises lower cost and a more environmentally friendly approach than is currently possible. This could make it a useful response to two challenges the world is currently facing: the housing shortage and climate change.
Automation brings huge cost savings. 80% computerization of the printing process in 3D houses means the builder only needs 5% of the workforce that would otherwise be involved. It also doubled the production speed. This is good news, as the construction industry has struggled for years to improve productivity.
A batch of new 3D printed homes across California are selling exceptionally fast. 82 were recovered in a matter of months and the waiting list is 1,000 long. This demand should, however, be met soon – for, while the construction of a conventional brick and mortar dwelling can take weeks, Palari Homes and Mighty Buildings, the collaborators behind these houses, are able to erect one in less than 24 hours. They can do it so quickly because their products are assembled from prefabricated components at the factory. This in itself is not a new idea. But the components involved are made in an unusual way: they are printed.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021