Meet The Robots That Will Build Your Next House

Tyler Durden's picture

The U.S. residential construction industry employs 100's of thousands of people each year in various skilled trades that earn hourly pay rates ranging from minimum wage to $100 per hour, or more. 

Per BLS statistics, the residential housing space employed over 1 million people at the height of the housing bubble and now accounts for nearly 750,000 jobs.



Of course, just like the auto industry, many of those jobs can be done at a fraction of the cost and with much greater precision by industrial robots.  Moreover, those robots work inside a warehouse where they're immune from the negative consequences of weather and can work 365 days per year without compromising construction integrity.

As Blueprint Robotics' CEO, Jerry Smalley, points out, nearly 60% of a custom home can be built inside a warehouse and shipped on a standard flatbed truck to its destination for installation.

Production starts with the most precise robot in our factory, the WBZ-160 beam-center. This saw cuts the top and bottom plates for our wall, and pre-drills for the installation of plumbing, venting and electrical rough-in that is soon to be installed.


It’s all pre-determined by the plans you provide. Everything in our factory is pre-cut: drilled, trimmed, fastened and routed with CNC precision.


Once we’ve got the lumber cut, we move to the Framing Station. This machine produces 40 linear feet of framed wall in about 11 minutes. Because robots are executing the nail pattern, it’s incredibly precise. The nail will never be outside of the stud: no misses here.


The wall comes out of the framing station and moves to our Drywall Bridge Station. Here we put a layer of OSB on the frame followed by a layer of drywall. The OSB is nailed to the stud, while the drywall is glued to the OSB and screwed to the stud. The Drywall Bridge Station is also where any openings in the wall, doors, windows, outlets and switches are precisely cut to perfectly square dimensions.


As Bloomberg notes, modular houses, at least in the U.S., used to be reserved for smaller, cheaper homes and that stigma restricted the industry from taking market share in the high-end McMansion neighborhoods.  But, that is all gradually changing as modern technology allows companies like Blueprint to manufacture far more complicated custom homes rather than the simple 'boxes' of the past.

Today’s plants are capable of producing bigger buildings with more elaborate designs. The Blueprint factory in Baltimore is one of the first in the U.S. to use robots, Fleisher said. Taller multifamily buildings, dorms and hotels are increasingly being manufactured indoors. And so are mansions that sell for millions.


“Some builders won’t even advertise they work with modular companies like us,” said Myles Biggs, general manager of Ritz-Craft Corp.’s Pennsylvania construction facility. “You could be driving past a modular home and not even know it, because it looks just like one next door.”


Ritz-Craft can deliver a single-family house in six to eight weeks, on average. Having an indoor facility means weather delays are rarely a factor. Each worker is given a narrow concentration, like tiling floors or sanding drywall, which increases production speed. People without any background in construction can become skilled laborers in two weeks, according to Biggs.


There doesn’t seem to be any stigma for customers of Connecticut Valley Homes, a builder that assembles factory-made components on lots in New England, including near the stately mansions of Greenwich. The East Lyme-based firm is “booming at moment,” with deposits for 42 houses, up about 50 percent from the same time last year, said Dave Cooper, senior building consultant. The company built only eight homes in 2011, when the housing market was hitting bottom.

Looks like Bill Gates will soon have a lot more robots to tax in the residential construction space.

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SilverRoofer's picture

Danger danger will Robinson!


RAT005's picture

My home is a custom SIP.  Kind of half robotic half traditional framing.  Only cost a little less but the most comfortable home I've ever lived in.  Basically more expensive comfortable materials, a little less labor.  Just a little less cost.

NoDecaf's picture

automate everything = no jobs for humans

no jobs = no money to buy the "cheap robot stuff"

no money + no job = no purpose for humans

no purpose humans = good fodder

lots of good fodder = WW3

WW3 = no humans for robots to produce for.


davidhenry's picture

Automate everything (short term) = lots of jobs in software, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, sales and installation for humans

Automate everything (mid term) = self repairing robots, jobs for software, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering for better, faster, cheaper robots, plus sales and installation

Automate everything (long term) = I never mow my grass, do the dishes, wash laundry, weed a garden, pick a vegetable, wipe my ass or hire anyone else to do it ever again


Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

And with the advent of the $2 fuckie-fuckie model #101, no more need to put up with women!

Normalcy Bias's picture

You don't think an A.I. bot will be able to engineer software better and faster than the vast majority of human programmers? I'd reconsider...


tmosley's picture

Supply and demand. When the supply of goods goes up, but there isn't much money available, price falls. Eventually, many goods become so cheap it isn't worth the effort to charge for them.

Internet content is a spectacular example of this. Damn near completely free, with content creators compensated either by ads, for-pay premium services, or donations.

If you disagree with my assesment, please post a comment relating how much you have to pay to post that comment.

NoDecaf's picture

If economies grew organically and supply-demand could find equilibrium I would agree.

ebworthen's picture

WWJTCS (What Would Jesus The Carpenter Say)?

Who is going to carry the lumber?

Good time to be an Electrician?


Normalcy Bias's picture

Don't you mean Jesús The Carpenter?

Burnbright's picture

automate everything = no jobs for humans

no jobs = no money to buy the "cheap robot stuff"

no money + no job = no purpose for humans

no purpose humans = good fodder

lots of good fodder = WW3

WW3 = no humans for robots to produce for.

Sorry but this argument just doesn't hold water. Machines simply give mechanical leverage to human capital. 

You guys would have been making the same dumb arguments in the stone age with the invention of the wheel. All this means is people have time to do more than they did before, it's the basics of capital formation.

LittleGreenMan's picture

With the advent of robots that are almost a direct 1-to-1 replacement for human workers, they probably are putting people out of work.   And the less skilled the task, the more likely to be replaced.  If robots did everything, everything wouldn't be free; otherwise, that would result in a human population explosion.  Not sure where all of this is headed, but I think it will be different than the past 10,000 years.

One thing that would probably help people, regardless of where this is heading, is a better education.  More knowledge and a greater understanding of things generally puts you in a better postion to adapt.

JohninMK's picture

This is pretty much the normal method of house construction across Scandinavia and into Europe proper.

It works great but it needs the foundations and services to be built to the same standards. No more shoddy concrete walls to pop this millimeter accurate top on. They need spot on embedded bolts sticking up to bolt the walls down onto.

No doubt there will be locally approved trades, electricians plumbers etc who will still be needed, they are the high price guys.

Houses Depreciate's picture

Ehhhh no. The E and P contracts are the least costly.

Canadian Dirtlump's picture

I'm waiting for my 3d printed house on a couple of acres with a few 3d printed cottages for people I don't hate to stay with me.

Skeero's picture

Honestly I'd prefer robots to build a house. It's?honestly scary thinking about how many drug addicts work for contractors. Most abuse pain killers.. I have a friend that's an electrician, his brother is a methhead and hangs sheetrock... They have to watch him carefully, he likes to pawn people's tools lmao

froze25's picture

Dude you ain't kidding. Great guys but man those dudes love to play with their brain chemistry 

ghengis86's picture

Just about every painter the GC I did work for in college would get baked in their van and then come in and paint. Those guys worked hard and did pretty good work but were high 99% of the time. Only a few major fuck ups, but stay outta their way, don't bother them and they got it done. You do have to be on some mind altering drugs to fucking paint for a living, especially the same house in the suburbs.

a Smudge by any other name's picture

I'll attest to this. For a while during my trades apprenticeship it looked like being a painter was the way to go. Outdoors in summer, indoors in winter, no heavy tools, not much lifting, you get to set up your radio and it looked like the life of luxury.

I HATED IT. No matter what you are painting it's the same damn thing. It's beyond boredom. Drugs were the only way to deal with the sheer mundaneity.

So I swapped trades, got into carpentry, much more fun, every day a new challenge. Carpentry is like mechanics. Your are dedicated to lifelong learning. Very stimulating. Finally I realized what geometry was good for.

And NO DRUGS cause we work with tools that cut off limbs and stuff heavy enough to crush you into pulp.

Oracle 911's picture

Ask the Russians. And I'm serious here, because a Russian firm already came up with the technology and is printing hoses. Proof:

wally_12's picture

3D people would be perfect. The Japanese are working on sex robots. I don't know if they reproduce and go on SNAP or welfare.

beemasters's picture

Ver 3.0 sex robots will be able to build houses for you too.

Frito's picture

That'll help their birth rate

herbivore's picture

I'm waiting for my hyper-realistic 3d Angelina Jolie (circa 2001 or so, before she had all of her naughty parts removed)

remain calm's picture

No wonder why the illegals aren't coming over, NO JOBS.

Is this name taken's picture

If you down voted this comment, you have no fucking idea what's up. Zero percent chance robots are going to take over construction jobs. Zero.

Skeero's picture

Your right it's much cheaper to give some of the workers a couple hydros, and a pack of cigarettes. You'd be surprised at some of the shit they leave inside the walls.. well mainly trash but whatever.

BlindMonkey's picture

Your framing  (pun intended) was poor.  They have obviously taken over construction jobs.  Is it all of them?  No but there some people on auto assembly lines too.

True Blue's picture

I have built houses both traditionally stick framed and with SIPs (logs twice too) and this was inevitable. At least the robots won't use Mariachi as a sonic weapon and won't turn the Port-O-Let into a Superfund site.

a Smudge by any other name's picture

I've done both methods too plus hybrids. We were calling these jobs FFSA for "factory fabricated site assembled". As long as it's real SPF studs and real ply and they got the layout correct you get as good a structure or better.

The real crap are these tract houses they put up for acres here in Phoenix. Steel studs, particle board sheathing, blown on exterior wall coverings, forget smooth wall interiors because nobody knows how to tape here without a shovel. And some truly shitty workmashship.

Did you know caulk comes in sizes? I didn't but the most popular size here seems to be 1/2". Those are the gaps in finish work they just spooge full of caulk.

I didn't know caulk was supposed to be a structural element either but....hey can't beat progress right?

ZRizzo's picture

6 things you won't believe robots can do:

We'll have to add construction to the list, too.  At Davos, the idea of UBI (Universal Basic Income) was discussed to save the human race when 2 billion jobs are lost by 2030 due to automation.  Basically, the elite will own it all with the CBs providing a lifeline to the masses to keep them alive. 

Another one - Robotics enabled pizza restaurant opens in Cali:

It won't be long til the other big pizza chains join in. 


Mr. Universe's picture

Unless there is a new planet open and a way to get there...

Basically, the elite will own it all with the CBs providing a lifeline to the masses to keep them alive. 

Most of the human race has become redundent to the masters and the third world is a major annoyance. Don't worry though, I have a feeling the magic number 6, as in billion, might just be leaving this mortal coil sooner rather than later.

Hail Spode's picture

The would-be human gods at Davos think a universal basic income is the solution. Instead, we should push for universal basic capital, for the reasons laid out here......

TuPhat's picture

Correct it is total bullshit.  This phrase explains it all, “You could be driving past a modular home and not even know it, because it looks just like one next door.”  That is exactly why I will never own one.  I refuse to be put in a mold and made to be just like everyone else and I don't want my house to look like hundreds of others in the neighborhood.  They have been building modular homes for decades and they are not popular they are just cheaper.  If they are built by robots they will ship the peices no matter how badly they turn out.  A nail that bends on a knot and so on.  Then the humans at the job site have to straighten it all out.  Where I live they won't give you a wind certification on a modular home and that means no insurance unless you pay sky high prices.

chosen's picture

I'd much prefer a house built by a robot, than some illegal.

Antifaschistische's picture

yep....I don't understand the comparison to the auto industry.

Things were "built by hands" and any guy working a part time job at the gas station after school could buy a car or a truck.

now that we have "robots" a new truck will cost 300% of a whole years wages at minimum wage working full time., unless they start saying "we can build a home for 1/2 the price of a conventional home" I don't really care.

...oh, and since that would LOWER the property values of comp homes, expect local property taxing authorities to have an "issue" with this.

...sounds like they need a lobbyist that will help pass "make your home in America" legislation, so they'll make billions, and the cost of construction will double.

...while I'm on a rant....the "construction" training courses that existed in high schools throughout California all got shut down when we started allowing the illegals to build all our, how about training American kids to swing a hammer again.  Why is that such an odd idea!!

ToSoft4Truth's picture

Automakers used to manufacture cars from rock. 


Now they handle premade assemblies imported from Mexico or the Orient.  

Pop3y3too's picture

I paid 7k cash for my house and yet my town taxes me on a house worth 64k.  I'd like to know whose house they think I'm paying taxes on because it sure as hell ain't the one I'm living in. 


When contemplating what to do with my cash to keep it out of the system that pretty much put a nail in the real estate coffin. I'm waiting for the day when they figure out how much of my hard earned money they can steal from me by taxing my precious metals with "property tax." 


F'in crooks. 

44magnum's picture

The crooks are the fuckers who create your mortgage from nothing and chrage you interest for thirty years on it. Those dirty cocksuckers are the ones who make the most money off the price of your new home. They did not do a fucking thing but made sure you worked your ass off to pay them.

Something is very wrong.

Oldwood's picture

The value of your house is not what you paid for it but how much you are willing to pay to keep it.

True Blue's picture

The increased cost of the vehicle is not due to robots, but due to currency debasement. Every technological improvement to efficiency must be countered via the printing press to prevent us from seeing the 'boogeyman' of deflation. Allow me to say that again: the Fed will never allow us to see prices go down -their whole yardstick of theft depends on "inflation" or "the theft of value from a currency" . This holds, even though deflation or organic price stability would 'stimulate' the economy far more than their free fiats do. The advent of the pneumatic nail gun should have driven down housing labor costs by an absolute minimum of 15% -but we are living in an economic twilight zone perpetrated by a Mafia cartel for the sole purpose of their own self enrichment, so the major cost improvement in efficiency was only a minor blip before being swallowed in an ever rising ocean of fiats.

Any guy working part time and earning genuine hard currency could afford a truck; but those days are deliberately gone; stolen at a "targeted 2%" -compounded annually. See why compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe?

tmosley's picture

If cars were still made by hand, all else being equal, we'd all be riding bicycles.

Government overspending/money printing has stolen the future from us. The monetary authorites tell us to fear deflation, ie decreases in prices that come from increased productivity. What they don't tell us is that they "fix" deflation by stealing 100% of those productivity increases.

The average wage today should be AT LEAST $300,000 a year, but for what they have taken from us.

Ness.'s picture

I don't care who builds my house as long as they build it to cost and build it to spec. Hungover pollocks and methheads need to find another line of work.  Insert Darwin <here>. Illegals can still manage the lawn ('they' are actually really, really good at what they do, seem to enjoy it, and I appreciate their help and input ~ 'they' also charge $50/hr).  The folks I really feel bad for are the over-the-road truckers.  Talk about having a target on your back.  Easy (T.Boone) Pickin's. 

Riga's picture

A friend of mine had started driving for C. R. England early 2009. He wondered why he didn't seem to be making any money and invited me to ride along and maybe figure out the finances. He was working constantly, and people like him were away from their families for weeks at a time. They'd tell him where to pick up and drop off, and he'd get a tiny paycheck, his truck rental and insurance taken out. Multiple times he owed them after a week of driving. In the laundry room at C. R. England in Salt Lake City I asked everybody if they were making any money and only one person was. So he got out. 

He had been living off the cheap $2 hot dog meals at the truck stops. They were only giving him enough hours for C. R. England to get their trucks paid for, and that's it. One more run a week would have turned the tide. 

divingengineer's picture

Will robot houses be cheaper per square foot than human built houses?
If not, and they probably aren't, what's the point?

beijing expat's picture

Retrain the construction workers as shitposters.

coast1's picture

I suppose the best thing for people looking for a career, is now, learning how to build robots?   or healthcare admin because of obamacare, or an acccountant to help people with their taxes?  bartender isnt so bad either, even when people are broke, they still find a few dollars to go to the pub...

cossack55's picture

Master Pot Gardener in the more enlightened states