Media Claims New Story/ICON Builds 3D Printed Housing for $4000, Fact Check & Analysis




Different construction methods exist – or emerge – for a variety of reasons.


3D printing of housing, for example, is being tested globally. Some say 3D printed housing is the obvious answer for building housing on the lunar landscape, or other planets.  “It sounds crazy, but it would be a lot crazier to fly sheet rock and 2×4’s to Mars,” Jason Ballard, ICON CEO per Business Insider.

Jasonballardphotocofounderceoicontreehouseiconlogodailybusinessnewsmhpronewslogo400There are also reasons why independent trade publishing which fact-checks is necessary for the factory-built-housing industry.

When there is a buzz about:

  • alternative construction,
  • emerging, or
  • automated technologies then

investors, homebuyers, policy wonks, and others may ask – ‘why should we mess with HUD Code manufactured homes?’

So, it is obviously an important issue to millions.

With that backdrop, mentally place yourself in the shoes of an affordable housing advocate, hedge fund manager, or housing seeker, and then read the following.


Mainstream media outlet Business Insider (BI) ran what is at best a dubious headline, “These 3D-printed homes can be built for less than $4,000 in just 24 hours.”

The videos by third party are posted by the Daily Business News on MHProNews, and were not part of the BI article.


Here’s how that BI article opens:

Printable homes represent the latest wave in construction, but they’re not always cheap to build.

Earlier this year, Branch Technology, an architectural startup,developed a prototype of a 1,000-square-foot 3D-printed home that would cost about $300,000 — a price too high to be considered a solution to the global housing crisis.

In March, New Story, a housing nonprofit based in San Francisco, and ICON, a construction-technology company that designs 3D printers, unveiled what they said was “the first permitted, 3D-printed home in America”: a 350-square-foot structure that cost about $10,000 and took just 48 hours to build.

At the time, the printer — known as the Vulcan — was running at only 25% speed. That gave the companies confidence that they could build a 600- to 800-square-foot home in just 24 hours for $4,000 or less. Before using 3D-printing technology, it took New Story eight months to build 100 homes, each costing about $6,000.”  Their article is found at this link here.

Note that the printer for these 3D printed housing units is portable, weighing about 2,000 pounds.

Here’s a news video that serves to make the point on why fact-checks and common-sense analysis are not only useful, but necessary. Note how the still emphasizes that same $4,000 price?  It’s the same figure that BI and others in mainstream media are reports on ICON’s and the New Story’s non-profit efforts are using.


But if you listen carefully, ICON’s founder says that the price is for the wall system and framing, not the systems of the house, like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, etc.

Another news outlet said that an ICON project in El Salvador would cost $1,000,000 for 100 homes. Presumably, that is the price of building it there, not in the U.S. If so, that’s $10,000 per ‘tiny house.’

FYI – MHProNews reached out to ICON with questions about what is and is not included in the cost, and received no reply. We plan another outreach in reaction to this article.

So, the Daily Business News turned to another 3D printing builder for their take on this ICON related pricing claims. Here’s what Don Musilli, CEO of 3D Build Systems LLC, Englewood, Florida told MHProNews this week.


3D Builder Sounds Off on ICON, Media Claims

Tony: The prices stated with these printed homes are materials cost. We can print an exterior and interior wall in a 1,000 sq. ft. home for under $10,000.00 materials cost. So these numbers are not really indicative of the sell price of the home plus this home has no HVAC and minimal lighting. No toilet, sink, etc.,” said Musilli.

We [3D Build Systems] believe we can produce a 1,400.00 sq. ft. home, complete, ready to move in for around $100,000.00. That is more reasonable and more accurate,” Musilli said in an electronic statement.

One more point,” added Musilli. “It is our goal to attempt to complete the homes in 30 days or less. We are working on the process for wiring, plumbing and installation of the split heating/cooling system to be done as quickly as possible. The finish is just the concrete wall with a stucco like finish.”

If Musilli’s pricing comes to pass, that would be $71.42 per square foot. That’s considerably less than prior estimates for the same sized home of about $100,000.


Robotics, 3D Printed Housing, Imminent Challengers for Manufactured Homes, Modular Housing – 3D Build Systems CEO Don Musilli


As has been noted above and previously, to achieve more affordable housing, there should be an openness to new as well as proven construction methods, including HUD Code manufactured homes, on an equal opportunity basis.


Fresh Facts, Figures, Future of Affordable Housing -Comparisons- Conventional Site-Built v Mobile/Manufactured Home Industry Data

What Does the Emerging 3D Printing Mean to Manufactured Housing?

A manufactured home industry veteran told MHProNews today that the industry has a “once in a lifetime” chance to get it right.  The need for affordable housing is so great, and there are numerous media sources that are shedding positive light on HUD Code manufactured homes.  One of several examples from this year is found below.

Bloomberg “New Home for $90,000? Manufactured Housing Is Making a Comeback” Reveals MH Media Challenge

Be that as it may, it is challenges from emerging technologies that are among the reasons our publisher repeatedly warns the industry’s independents against what he sees as the “artificially caused challenges” to HUD Code manufactured home builders, retailers, communities and other industry professionals. One of many such challenges are spotlighted in the article linked below, which can be read later for greater understanding of the issues.


Rumble over Anti-MH Law-State Association, Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), Clayton Homes, and MHARR


The Manufactured Housing InstituteMHI – and their mouth-pieces keep calling for ‘unity’ in the industry.  That’s a potentially loaded term,” says L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.  “Someone can unite an industry by consolidating it. Uniting an industry could in some cases be construed as an antitrust issue, as their own handout says. That said, the point should be that a few players that have purportedly manipulated regulators, aspects of media engagement, public officials and capital could have over played their hand. In the meantime, that process has arguably cost thousands of industry professionals to lose their businesses to closure or a cheaper sale than a normal market condition would have provided them.”

The other side of the coin,” said Kovach, “is that MHARR, MHI and state association like Texas did pull together in a way that benefited everyone.  That should be the test for ‘unity.’ Does it benefit consumers? Does it benefit businesses of all sizes?  Does it work to the advantage of taxpayers? That’s kind of authentic unity is worthwhile. So, the word ‘unity’ must be carefully parsed.  Some unity is good, but other kinds of unity is akin to conquest.”

The comment above was said with respect to another recent topic, but relates to this issue too.

MHProNews will be doing a special report on that topic, to provide an example of how ‘good unity’ has worked before, and can work again.

For more on these issues, see related reports below for more.  “We Provide, You Decide.” ©  ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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Truth, Trump, Tragedy, Triumph, Affordable Housing, and Manufactured Homes

Let’s stipulate that both President Donald J. Trump and his anti-Trump opponents at times error in various ways. No one is perfect. Let’s note later why the bullets below matters for the cause of the economy, affordable housing in general, and manufactured homes in particular.

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