An Oakland startup combines prefab design and 3D printing to create cost-saving backyard homes.Amidst the pandemic-fueled housing boom, newly launched company Mighty Buildings offers an attractive solution to the nation’s lumber and labor shortages: 3D-printed homes that can be built with 95% fewer labor hours at twice the speed of conventional construction.
Operating out of an Oakland warehouse, the Y Combinator–backed startup constructs prefab homes with their Big-G Printer, a 20-foot-tall 3D printer that, at speeds of 120 millimeters per second, can print a 350-square-foot studio in less than 24 hours. The homes are made of Light Stone, a thermoset composite material that hardens when exposed to UV light.
Instead of 3D printing sections of each home for on-site assembly, the machine maximizes cost savings by printing the home’s entire structural shell—thus automating the building process by up to 80% with cost savings of 20% to 30% compared to traditional prefab methods.
"Because we’re building homes for people to live in, we’ve been very deliberate in carrying out our vision to make housing better. This isn’t software that can be debugged on the fly," says Slava Solonitsyn, the CEO and co-founder of Mighty Buildings. "We’re now ready to scale our production with full confidence in our certifications and code compliance of both our material and technology."
Built to California Building Code and Title 24 Energy Efficiency requirements, Mighty Building’s homes are primarily aimed at California’s housing market, where the average cost of traditional stick-built homes is $327 per square foot. In high-cost housing markets with skilled labor shortages (such as California), the startup estimates that Mighty Buildings homes can cost up to 45% less than comparable homes.
To quickly alleviate housing shortages, Mighty Building’s launch is focused on accessory dwelling units (ADUs). California has led the way in streamlining the permitting process for ADUs—as of January 1, the state began exempting ADUs less than 750 square feet from local impact fees.
Mighty Buildings currently offers six customizable ADU models that range from 350-square-foot studios (that start at $115,000) to three-bedroom, two-bath homes (ranging up to $285,000). The startup offers turnkey services for factory-to-foundation construction, however, homeowners also have the option to purchase prefabricated panelized kits or customized components.
To date, the startup has installed their first two ADUs in San Ramon and San Diego, and it has fifteen ADU projects currently under contract, with a pop-up unit planned for Los Angeles in late August.
"With a strong foundation in robotics, manufacturing, and sustainability, the Mighty Buildings founding team knows the different facets of the issues that face modern housing," says Eric Migicovsky, Partner at Y Combinator. "Accessory dwelling units are just the start in further building out their unique approach to building."
The company’s prefabs are currently only available for delivery in California, but Mighty Buildings has plans to team up with developers to create single-family and multifamily homes across the nation in the future.