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Housing

The UK’s first 3D printed houses will go to homeless veterans

Building for Humanity’s innovative £6million project is building 46 eco-friendly homes in Lancashire to house low-income families and homeless veterans

The UK’s first 3D printed homes are set to offer homeless veterans the chance to work on their own home.

Not-for-profit Building for Humanity’s £6million project in Accrington, Lancashire, is set to deliver 46 eco-friendly affordable homes for low-income families and homeless veterans next year.

Each home will be among the first built using 3D construction printing, which architects Harcourt Technologies (HTL.tech) insist will help to tackle the housing crisis by slashing labour and material costs as well as cutting down on waste.

Many of the people who will live in the homes will receive training to be upskilled in printing of the houses and other roles at BfH as part of attempts to boost employment.

“I’ve got a lot of experience in the construction industry but there is obviously still a big shortage of housing, especially affordable housing,” Scott Moon, founder of Building for Humanity, told The Big Issue. “The basis of the model is to build truly affordable housing and give people who are down on their luck a chance to get off the street.”

“It’s about giving people that chance and understanding what they actually want to do with their life. It’s alright picking somebody off the street, making sure they’re alright and just putting them into a house, but that just doesn’t work. This is a long-term financial model with wraparound support built into a humanity credit programme.”

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homeless veterans
The equipment to 3D print the components to build the homes has been set up at nearby Accrington and Rossendale College. Image: Building for Humanity

The Charter Street development is currently awaiting the final go-ahead from local planning bosses for work to begin on the 100 per cent affordable housing development.

Built on disused land, the 46 homes are set to include a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments and three and four-bedroom houses alongside a community centre, training hub and private and communal gardens.

Building For Humanity is working with charity partner to Homes for Humanity and referral partners to help support people who have experienced homelessness to adapt to independent living in the homes.

The homes themselves will be the first in the UK to use the 3D construction printing technology, which HTL.tech has spent 18 months testing ahead of a rollout in the UK.

HTL.tech’s Dr Marchant van den Heever said the process involves “manufacturing-style techniques which is a concept that we haven’t really seen in the construction industry yet”.

Construction material prices have skyrocketed since the pandemic. Government figures show prices were 16.7 per cent higher than a year ago in September, albeit down from the peak of 26.8 per cent inflation recorded in June.

HTL.tech insists the process brings precision and speed to housebuilding to make it more affordable by cutting down on waste and labour and material costs as a result. 

Justin Kinsella, chief executive of HTL.tech, said: “It’s one of the few technologies that we have ever come across that can move faster. Inherently, that’s what it does, it moves very quickly and we can build at a reduced cost. 

“The timing is perfect, that’s exactly where the money needs to be going. We’re in position and ready. We’re hoping to go as early as possible in 2023.”

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Completing the development represents a dream scenario for Moon.

Building for Humanity stemmed from an evening out Moon had with friends in Manchester in 2016 when they vowed to tackle homelessness after seeing the number of rough sleepers in the city centre.

homeless veterans
Scott Moon set up Building for Humanity to create ways of tackling the affordable housing crisis at scale. Image: Building for Humanity

“The excitement of the original model and where it’s come full circle from the actual vision is that we wanted to give people a chance, even to build their own house which they will eventually be living in,” said Moon.

“Now that dream is coming true. We’ve got the machine set up at Accrington and Rossendale College and we’ve actually got low-income families and ex-army veterans on the training programme. It puts hairs on the back of your neck when you think that’s possibly achievable.”

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