Tim Lankau is rethinking the way houses are constructed — not only with materials and technology, but with speed and affordability. His Houston-based company, Hive3D Builders, was founded in 2021.

“Our first project was in the Brenham area and is the biggest 3D-printed concrete house in North America,” he says.

The company is currently at work on another precedent-setting project: the Casitas at The Halles in Round Top. These five rental lodgings are being printed on-site in record time using a revolutionary new carbon-neutral concrete that is safe for the environment and promises to last forever, Lankau says.

Here’s how it works: A massive preprogrammed robotic arm swiftly lays down walls layer by layer, extruding the mixture from a large nozzle. These hollow walls are then filled with foamed concrete for insulation and added strength. The mesmerizing process, which makes a satisfying whirring sound as it moves along, might be compared to icing squeezed out of a giant confectionery bag. It’s so fascinating to watch that The Halles is setting up tables and chairs for people to experience in real time the Casitas being 3D built, with cocktails served.

It will take about a day to print one of the Casitas, with the rest of the house — plumbing, electrical, doors, windows, and roof — completed in two months.

“The end result is a monolithic, high-strength, and energy-efficient structure that can be built faster and less expensively when compared to traditional methods,” Lankau says.

The 8-inch thick, 3D-printed walls are often curved, which provides even more stability. Essentially, the Casitas can withstand anything the harsh Texas climate can throw at them, such as tornadoes and hurricanes. They’re also much more flood-resistant than wood and brick houses.

Lankau says building with concrete is the wave of the future, but it can have detrimental consequences for the environment. Cement, a component of concrete, is produced using high heat generated by fossil fuels and has a high carbon footprint. Hive3D Builders has found a way to solve the problem. The company has teamed with Ecomaterial Technologies, a $1 billion Utah-based company that extracts and converts the bad after-products of coal production into an eco-friendly geopolymer product that replaces cement, rendering the mixture carbon neutral.

Hive3D Builders is looking at constructing houses elsewhere in the Round Top area as the demand for housing increases.

“We can build at a real cost savings of 20 to 30 percent over traditional construction, which makes them much more affordable,” says Lankau, who is able to build houses for roughly $120 per square foot — industry-altering low numbers. You can work with Hive3D Builders’ architect or your own, he says.

The company is also making striking 3D-printed concrete furniture, including lounge chairs, coffee tables, and desks, along with outdoor seating and picnic tables. The process is similar to how buildings are made, with textural ribbons of concrete and sensuous curves. It takes only a head-spinning couple of hours to print a piece of furniture, and the company works with designers to create custom pieces.

“While we’re on-site printing your house, we can make your furniture, too,” Lankau says.

Starred Sky Development Co., known for developing modular houses in the Round Top area and beyond, is a preferred developer and representative for sales of Hive3D Builders offerings. Watch The Halles website for upcoming information on leasing the Casitas.