Lennar, Icon teaming up on 3D-printed development

100-home community set to debut near Austin, Texas

From left: Stuart Miller, executive chairman, Lennar, and Jason Ballard, chief executive officer, ICON (Lennar, ICON Build)
From left: Stuart Miller, executive chairman, Lennar, and Jason Ballard, chief executive officer, ICON (Lennar, ICON Build)

Homebuilding giant Lennar and Texas construction startup Icon are teaming up to build 100 3D-printed homes in a massive vote of confidence for the technology amid a nationwide home shortage.

Icon’s proprietary Vulcan technology allows the company to create homes up to 3,000 square feet it says outlasts traditional building methods and materials. The Wall Street Journal first reported the project, noting that while Icon is printing the wall system, Lennar can construct the home’s framing and drywall with traditional construction methods in about a week.

The concrete construction process for the homes offers a quicker and cheaper approach, the company says, in addition to less waste than traditional methods. It’s not clear how the homes will be priced when they hit the market.

The project is expected to break ground in early 2022 near Austin, Texas. The neighborhood of 3D-printed homes will mark the largest of its kind and a massive upscaling of Icon’s previous projects.

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The startup — which is based in the Texas capital — previously made waves in March 2020 when it debuted a community of six, 400-square-foot homes in the metropolitan area, which it claimed were the country’s first. An architecture professor told the Washington Post at the time it could be difficult to scale the technology and its widespread impact could be decades away.

Icon has already delivered more than two dozen 3D-printed homes in Mexico and the United States, many for those experiencing homelessness or poverty. The startup has raised $266 million in equity since its 2017 founding, including a Series B round closed in August, where it raised $207 million.

Lennar is no stranger to making bets on real estate technology. A big backer of iBuyer Opendoor, the company provided $100 million in debt financing in January 2018 and co-leading a $325 million funding round.

The major home builder has used Opendoor as a guinea pig at times to a trade-up program for Lennar homes, in addition to investments in a number of startups, including title insurance provider Doma, home insurance startup Hippo and rent-to-own startup Divvy.