Keeping up with the new residential technology of the day is more than just a conversation starter or mere curiosity. For homeowners (and hopeful homeowners), it's a way to prepare themselves for any future properties they may retrofit or purchase. Construction technology has not moved as far or as fast when compared to the technology of other industries, but they have made some notable strides in the past few years in construction technology and improvements.
Finding the Site
Finding a site used to take weeks of driving around, measuring plots, and noting the major obstacles that graced the land. Developers of today can use tools like drones and 3D scanners to construct a more accurate portrayal of the land without ever having to step foot on it. A drone gives investors and builders a clear snapshot of both the expanse and the conditions of the land.
So if the potential building site had somehow turned into an illegal dumping ground, the developer could use the footage to make a more informed decision. If a builder needed a measurement of the waste on the site, they could use a 3D scanner to gather dimensions. With an error rate of just 2 mm, the 3D scanner can measure any object on the land.
A New Reality
Construction workers have always had a dangerous job, regardless of the type of building they were working on. However, the statistics for accidents, injuries, and even death have been going in the wrong direction. As the numbers continue to rise, construction companies are looking into how virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) can help.
- Safety: Virtual and augmented programs give workers the chance to work on the site before they physically step foot on it. They get to learn what's expected of them and how to work within the confines of a given space.
- Accuracy: There's a lot of miscommunication on construction sites that can end up eating into the project's budget and timeline. VR/AR technology give workers a chance to ask their questions when there's an instructor present rather than when they're working independently on site.
Advances in Materials
New building materials are trying to solve the questions of maintenance and repairs before they even become questions. For example, self-healing concrete contains special polymers that can essentially repair themselves. They're 'programmed' to remember their shape and then conform itself back to its original configuration. And while this technology has largely been championed for repaving and constructing new roads, this benefit could also be extremely useful for residential building as well.
In the same vein as self-healing concrete, nanoparticle paint is designed to ward off stains and major damage. These examples are indicative of where materials are going as a whole—more manufacturers are dissecting how they can use new science of today to make the homes of tomorrow last longer.
There has been a shortage of workers in the construction industry that has left many developers frustrated and behind schedule. When robot brick-layers came onto the scene, their advantages were undeniable. A robot bricklayer can work five times faster than even the most diligent of construction workers. The first robots that debuted were fairly limited in what they could do as they could only work on straight designs rather than more ambitious layouts.
If they were met with any obstacles along the way (e.g., unexpected tree roots, etc.), they would need human interference to continue working. However, with every new version that comes out on the market, robot bricklayers are able to handle more, so developers can count on these advanced tools to finish the job.
The Future of Building
3D printers can do more than just make model cars or plastic toys, they can actually design whole homes in less than 24 hours. Tech companies like Apis Cor have been able to create entire homes from a machine that maps and print the structure in just a few hours. These homes may be simple, but they're also immediately move-in ready. Many have speculated that 3D printed homes could be the answer to our affordable housing needs.
While the machines themselves may be expensive, it only costs a few thousand dollars to create the home. 3D printed homes raise a number of questions, such as how will the homes be inspected and how durable will the homes be against inclement weather. However, it's promising enough that many people are interested in the next steps.
New residential technology will inevitably build a different type of construction industry. It will change the desired skills and layouts for West Terrace homes. Keeping up with the changes will give homeowners an idea of their options long before they ever visit an Open House.