Following on from last time, another effort that can be used to address our housing crisis is the diversification of our construction methods. This will make constructing houses faster and cheaper – but never at the expense of quality or proper planning, both of which have previously suffered during the Celtic Tiger years. Embracing a modern approach using now-common technology can de-centralize the construction industry and make it much easier for people to build houses.
CNC machines, for example, have been used for years in the manufacture of furniture and small items, but when combined with freely-available 3D software, it becomes possible to ‘print’ components for a house – this is different from a 3D printer, which would have to be larger than the house it is printing in order to work.
Loading sheets of sustainably sourced plywood, which is renewable and easy to transport, into a small CNC machine placed on the construction site, the components for a house can be produced and assembled. This includes the tools used to assemble the structure, making it straightforward so that anyone can do it. When combined with a suitable foundation system, insulation, cladding and windows, a house can be assembled in a few weeks rather than a few months. Cutting the time automatically cuts the cost.
There are already companies experimenting with this type of construction: Wikihouse and Facit Homes are two, based in the UK. There is huge potential for this type of system in Ireland also, but there are a few major obstacles to overcome, including the insurance industry, who won’t insure anything that is considered ‘off-standard’. However, if money is invested into testing these technologies, they can be proven to be suitable for use in Ireland, thereby paving the way for certification and mainstream use.
PHOTO CREDIT: Assisi, Italy.