Meet the Innovative Homes Making Dreams Happen

New building methods are creating welcoming spaces families can call their own.

Front view of happy family entering their new home.

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They say “A house is made of walls and beams. A home is built with love and dreams.” But, it turns out the walls and beams themselves are still pretty important. 

This is why Habitat for Humanity is experimenting with new ways to build cheap, easily assembled, warm, and environmentally-friendly homes.

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WIth its mission of helping people worldwide access equitable and affordable housing, this organization is exploring faster, cheaper and easier ways to erect these walls and beams and ensure that more people have access to a safe,  warm home.

Prefab houses that are easy to assemble
To enable this mission to progress, Habitat for Humanity Canada is trialing a new type of house design. This one, as Fast Company reports, is unique because it is framed off-site. This makes it easier to erect in poor weather conditions and with less specialized labor.

Essentially, the walls are pre-assembled. This means all layers of the walls, including the inner wall, the insulation and the outer shingles come to the building  site pre-assembled. When the walls arrive at the building site, they just need to be put together.

This is a feature, not only because it is “ultra-efficient” but also because it adheres to Passive House design standards for insulation.The prefab design is so airtight that occupants of these houses spend on average 76 percent less on heating costs. 

At this point, the prefab design isn’t feasible for mass production, due to its cost. These homes cost about 6-10 percent  more than the average Habitat for Humanity house. 

But consultant Sumit Ajwani hopes that this challenge is only temporary. 

Akwani explains, “As our new model for leveraging volunteers improves, we’ll see a more dramatic reduction in overall costs, and we believe we can one day achieve a comparable cost to standard construction, but with the added long-term benefits of a high-performance home.”

Houses at the push of a button
Still, Habitat for Humanity isn’t putting all its eggs in the prefab home bucket. In the United States, the charity is exploring other innovative methods of making shelter a universal right.

House Beautiful reports that, in partnership with Alquist, Habitat for Humanity has 3-D printed its first, all concrete house. 

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3-D printing enables the group to save on construction costs, resulting in a storm resistant, insulated, three bedroom home that is 15 percent cheaper to build than similar homes in the area. 

According to Bob Vila, new residents April Stringfield and her 13 year old son have already moved into their new home, along with a 3D printer of their own, for printing matching cabinets and light switch covers.

Normally houses take hundreds of hours and dozens of trees to build. Stringfield’s environmentally friendly cottage only took 28 hours to print, before Stringfield and the Habitat for Humanity team assembled it. 

Remember that feeling when you purchased your first house? When you moved in and transformed it from a house into a home? 

That feeling is universal. And Habitat for Humanity envisions a world where the ability to own a house will be universal as well.

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