Introducing the world’s first community of 3D printed homes.

See the first set of homes,
now standing in Tabasco, Mexico.

Why would a nonprofit use 3D printing for homes?

There are more than a billion people across the globe living without safe shelter.

To make a dent in that number, we have to build differently. Building 3D printed homes is faster, and has the potential for higher quality, more affordable homes than the current industry standard. Partnering with ICON, our goal was to empower those who are building homes for families living without shelter — governments and non-profits alike — to do their best work. As we make these strides, it means more families around the world will have safe shelter.

In partnership with ICON

ICON is an Austin-based construction technologies company dedicated to revolutionizing homebuilding and making dignified housing the standard for people throughout the world. Using proprietary 3D printing robotics, software and advanced materials, ICON is solving a plurality of problems in the contemporary building industry with their breakthrough technologies. Together, New Story and ICON embarked to build a community where families in need will receive safe homes, all created with world-changing 3D printing innovation.

What’s the story?

Are you interested in writing a story about the 3D community? Please contact us for more information.

3D Printing Homes

How long does it take to print one home?

Each home was printed in around 24 hours of print time across several days.

What are the homes made of?

The homes are made of a proprietary concrete mixture called Lavacrete.

Are the homes eco-friendly?

Yes. The printer uses local materials and produces zero waste.

The Families

What were the circumstances for the community and families this project impacted?

These families were some of the lowest income, highest-need families we have ever served. At the outset of the project, we partnered with local government officials to survey more than 500 families in the area, to identify those with the greatest need. The 10 families in this community have an average median income of $76.50 per month, which is well below the lowest threshold we typically require of families we serve in Mexico. Families in this community work in a variety of occupations, and work often changes based on what is available in each season. Additionally, most of the homes the families previously lived in were prone to flooding because of their proximity to the nearby river, which overflows during the rainy season.

How did you select the families?

Families were selected using a three-part process:
1. We worked closely with nonprofit partners to identify an area with the greatest need.
2. Once an area was identified, we worked with partners to survey each family individually to understand their specific circumstances.
3. After surveying, we selected the families who have the greatest physical and financial need for a home.

When do families move-in?

The families moved in November 2021.

Did the families receive the homes for free?

Families received the homes at a zero interest, zero profit mortgage. The total mortgage amount is around 400 pesos a month, a manageable amount even for very low-income families, and lasts for seven years. The rest of the cost of the home is considered a subsidy from New Story. The mortgage funds don’t return to New Story or ECHALE, but rather are pooled into a community investment fund where families over time vote on how the funds are used.

By investing into their homes, families are more likely to stay in the homes long-term, take better care of the community, and provide more meaningful feedback through the planning process.

Did this project take jobs from locals?

Build out on the homes still required for land clearing, foundations, doors, windows, and roofs. We hired locals for all of the build out and didn’t decrease the numbers of individuals hired as compared to traditional construction.

What type of maintenance will the houses require? What is the estimated cost of maintenance and is this covered by the families or New Story?

Homes will require the same maintenance as traditional CMY block homes. New Story monitors home and community aging through our Impact Data Program. Families are surveyed before home intervention and again at various milestones following move-in. This allows us to identify any community issues that need to be addressed by New Story. Traditional wear and tear on homes is covered by the families.

The Location

How did you decide on the location for this community?

With any community New Story builds, we have a rigorous partner, country, and community vetting process. We have built several communities in Mexico using traditional construction including communities with our partner, ECHALE. While the need is great in all of the locations where we work, this location in Mexico was the best selection for the 3D printed community because of:
– Proximity for teams traveling from the U.S.
– Local government buy-in
– Land access
Additionally, through our family selection process, we found there is an extreme need for housing in the area.

How many 3D printed homes are in the community?

There are 10 total 3D printed homes in this community; two of them are already completed.

What was the community and home design process?

All New Story communities use a Lean Participatory Design process to involve families in the home and community planning. The community and home designs presented to the families through our LPD process for feedback. Plans were then edited and shown to families for final buy-in.

Why not do this in the U.S.?

New Story is able to best leverage our expertise and impact by working in countries similar to the places where we already work. For this project, we partnered with a local partner in Mexico with whom we’ve worked for many years. ICON currently works with several partners in the U.S. including printing homes in Austin, TX, serving the chronically homeless.

The Technology

What benefits does 3D printing provide for homebuilding?

Conventional construction is slow, fragmented, wasteful, and has poor thermal properties which increase energy use, increase operating costs, and decrease comfort.  Also, conventional materials like drywall and particle board are some of the least resilient materials ever invented. By contrast, 3D printing offers the following:

  • Increased speed
  • Decrease in manual labor
  • Concrete is a well understood, affordable, resilient material
  • Concrete has a high thermal mass (comfort & energy efficiency)
  • 3D Printing produces a continuous, unbroken thermal envelope (comfort & energy efficiency)
  • Replaces multiple systems of the home in one technology (foundation, structure, insulation, interior & exterior sheathing, moisture barrier, finished surfaces, etc.)
  • Near zero waste
  • Tremendous design freedom (curves and slopes are no more challenging or expensive than straight, plumb lines)

Are the roof, windows and other finishes done conventionally or also 3D printed?

All finishes are completed using traditional construction. For this project, build out was completed by our local partner in Mexico, ECHALE

More about the 3D printing technology…

  •  The printer, dubbed The Vulcan II, was developed by ICON, a construction technologies company based in Austin, Texas, and has successfully printed permitted 3D homes, built to U.S. housing standards, in Austin, Texas.

Give a family a lifetime of opportunity.