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3D printed house building code

Since I was born and raised in germany, I know how much of a hassle it can be to get, well, anything approved by the government. 

But in order to get a permit for a 3D printed house, you need to know some basics, no matter where you live.

 Even if you build in your own backyard: The government is often times not very fast with technological progress of any kind, so you better put some effort into your building permit for the 3D printed house.

Nevertheless, let’s start with the more general question:

Are 3D printed houses up to code?

As COBOD 3D printed housing expert “Vytautas Naslenas”states: This is not so much a question of the 3D printing technology, but rather of the house itself. In regards to technology, you might not want to go for the cheap low quality printers, if you don’t want any issues with the building code. The method of “additive manufacturing”, or 3D printing houses, has already been reviewed and the first international guidelines, the UL 3401, has been published.

Location

As Vytautas Naslenas, head of the COBOD customer support also pointed out, location plays a big role in getting a building permit. As I mentioned earlier, here in germany we have so many laws and regulations, we sometimes refer to them as the “jungle”. Also scandinavian countries such as denmark require a lot of paperwork for a 3D printed house, whereas some countries in Africa and parts of India don’t require any building standards.

While there are international guidelines, every country is different. To learn more about you location and the 3D printed house it’s best to talk to your building authorities!

Project

This is the single most important thing determining wether you get a building permit or not: Since the question of “are 3D printed houses up to code?” can be easily answered with a yes, in theory, it all comes down to your specific project. 

If you want more information, you’d have to buy the first international guidelines on 3D printing, UL3401. Generally, your project should be within the means of 3D printed construction, since right now there are limitations on the technology. If you want to go more in depth on what you can 3D print and what not, check out my article: 3D printing an entire house?  In order to be on the safe side, always remember that 3D printing is mainly used for walls. Your project should incorporate construction 3D printers only for straight walls with conservative material, considering you want to be sure to get that building permit.

Printer

When I talked to COBOD about the 3D printed construction building code, they did empasize the importance of the project itselves, but also the fact that a bad printer might create problems with the permit. Now, I don’t think your local building authorities are as deep in the 3D printed construction industry as you and me, so they probably won’t exactly know the quality of each printer. That’s why Im unsure as to how they’ll judge your printer, personally I find it likely that this isn’t that important. Still, there are some positives

to making sure the right printer is used for your building, if not for the building code, at least for your house’s sake.

Design

The main goals for the building authorities are:

✔ Avoiding unsafe structures

✔ Making the buildings be visually accordant

The second one is where design comes in. Recently, I visited a greek island and had a talk with the local building authorities. They had a very interesting, but very narrow building code in order to preserve the 

traditional style of the buildings there. There are a lot of newly rich on this island, so in order for them not to destroy the ambiance with their ostentatious villas, they created a strict building code according to greek traditional style. 

Now, this is especially important for 3D printed buildings, since they give us an unbelievable freedom of design. Abusing this freedom to create very showy and unfitting buildings can result in the building authorities not permitting your building. 

Inform yourself

I can not give too much specific advice, since every location is different, so how about you just call your building authorities before the project, and ask how they judge 3D printed houses? There will be some things they treat differently than others, maybe they don’t care about the printer? Maybe they only approve 3D printed buildings with a certain thickness of the wall? All of these things are great to know beforehand, so you might consider talking to them before even planning the first building.