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Two-Story Home Built in Eight Hours

Can offsite manufacturing solve the housing crisis?

The supply of available homes is historically low. Land is expensive, material costs are high, and the market conditions have a particularly dramatic impact on smaller homes less than 1,800 square feet. However, modern manufacturing techniques have shown the potential to cut costs and build times significantly. While the world's largest 3D printer is quickly building modest homes layer by layer in Maine, modern offsite manufacturing techniques are making it possible for "stick-built homes" to be made more sustainably and efficiently.

Last week, the Structural Building Components Association (SBCA), a trade association representing home component manufacturers, 84 Lumber, the largest private supplier of building materials and manufactured components in the U.S. and the National Framers Council (NFC) held a demonstration at the Innovative Housing Showcase (IHS) in Washington, D.C.

The team wanted to show off the "future of home construction," so it built a two-story, 2,400-square-foot house on the National Mall in less than eight hours.

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    According to Jess Lohse, executive director at the SBCA, the project demonstrates how slight changes in the typical construction process can significantly impact construction cycle times, allowing limited jobsite labor to build more homes more efficiently.

    84 Lumber provided the structural framing elements, like the windows, doors, and framing crews. Ken Kucera, VP of 84 Lumber, says the eight-hour job isn't just some attention-grabbing gimmick. He hopes that showcasing modern manufacturing and installation methods makes installation much faster, improving housing options and helping the builder's bottom line.

    84 Lumber's plants make components for single-family, multifamily, townhomes, and custom home builders. With new home design optimization techniques, a single plant can produce about four to five houses daily.

    The materials for this build were made at the company's plant in Winchester, Virginia. Each wall and truss is well labeled so the crew knows exactly where it goes in the plans. And this wasn't just the shell of a home; crews also installed HVAC mechanicals, electrical, and plumbing in open-web floor trusses, which speeds up installation, reduces field errors, and lowers costs, according to the company.

    The team tried a similar stunt last year, but it took them 12 hours. This year's new design and manufacturing techniques shaved four hours off the build time.

    Following the event, 84 Lumber's crew disassembled the house and sent it to a job site in Waynesboro, Virginia, where it will be re-built for Habitat for Humanity and become home to a pair of families.

    The project hopes to raise awareness about innovative housing advancements that can boost the supply of homes, cut construction costs, improve energy efficiency and resilience, and make housing more affordable.

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