New Story, the Atlanta-born startup non-profit that builds homes for families in developing nations, has unveiled a brand-new house construction model that aims to save time, money and labor to house more families. Announced at SXSW in Austin, Texas today, New Story’s 3D home printer, created in collaboration with 3D construction technology company ICON, is capable of printing an entire 600-800-square-foot home up to safe building codes, in less than 24 hours.
The entire home, including materials and printing, ends up costing around $4,000 once in the country — a 40 percent savings on their current model.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to challenge traditional methods and work toward ending homelessness. Linear methods will never reach the billion+ people who need safe homes,” said Brett Hagler, CEO and co-founder of New Story.
Hagler, an Atlanta native, founded New Story at the age of 25 after a trip to Haiti. The startup uses crowdfunding to ensure that 100 percent of donations go to building homes.
“I never thought I would start a charity, but, after I took a trip to Haiti and after being a part of other charities, I learned about the end result of where and how money is used. I couldn’t find any that fit the mold of a simple concept, that you should know where 100 percent of the money goes,” Hagler told Hype in an interview in 2016. “With New Story, we use technology and video to document. We show that 100 percent of donated money goes into field. We have private funding that goes toward covering overhead.”
After going through the Y Combinator accelerator, the company moved some operations to the Bay area but has continued building out a presence, including their technical team, in Atlanta. To date, they have raised funds for 1300 homes and built more than 850 of those in Haiti, El Salvador, Mexico, and Bolivia.
New Story and ICON designed the printer, which has been named The Vulcan and took about eight months for development, with their target locales of communities in developing nations in mind. Its designed to work where power and safe water are unpredictable and high-tech employees are often lacking.
“We spent a lot of time researching various concepts that would help leap frog current housing processes. From prefab to modular and everything in between, we believe to truly impact the global housing crisis we must address the problem in new ways,” explains New Story’s Chief Brand Officer Sarah Lee. “Through the research, 3D rose to the top as the best way to increase quality and adaptability of the homes while decreasing cost and increasing speed.”
Hagler says that The Vulcan will begin printing homes in El Salvador within the next 18 months. Those homes are built to International Building Code standards and expected to last just as long as traditionally-constructed houses. The Vulcan uses common mortar materials, which New Story plans to procure locally.
New Story says The Vulcan has cost just under a quarter of a million dollars for R&D and development, though they anticipate each unit to go down to about $95,000 in the future. That initial cost was funded by a private group of donors separate from New Story’s general donors.
Along with streamlining their own operations, New Story and ICON leaders say they hope to distribute The Vulcan to other non-profits and NGOs working on ending the homelessness problem. “Change is an open source pursuit so we are not building this technology for New Story, we are building it for the world,” says New Story COO Alexandria Lafci.
“It took a long time for mobile devices to penetrate Africa because companies focused on more lucrative markets. But look at the impact cell phones had in transforming entire economies and livelihoods on the Continent,” she says. “Instead of waiting for profit motivation to bring construction advances to the Global South, we are fast tracking innovations like 3D home printing that can be a powerful tool toward ending homelessness.”