Artificial Intelligence 
· 8 min read

Can Generative Artificial Intelligence Advance Affordable Housing?

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is a tantalizing prospect for affordable housing, which is a major concern for too many.

According to the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC), housing is considered “affordable” when it consumes 30% or less of the total before-tax household income. And unfortunately, 40% of renters and 16% of homeowners pay more—sometimes much more—than that on housing. The average Canadian household needs to devote nearly 60% of its income to housing.

To identify how generative AI can help solve the affordable housing problem, we need to understand why the problem persists despite efforts from both the public and private sectors.

The Affordable Housing Problem

Why are housing prices so high? Let’s explore five of the most significant roots of this problem.

1. High Demand, Low Supply

As a population grows, the demand for affordable housing grows with it, and housing prices spike. The CMHC estimates that Canada needs 5.8 million new homes by 2030 to tackle the affordability crisis. If current rates of construction continue, only 2.3 million new units will be built by then—less than half what’s needed—making for an uphill battle.

2. Unmitigated Rises in Cost per Home

The average cost of a home in Canada has risen by 30% since early 2020. This mirrors the similar 27% increase in median home prices in the United States, indicating it’s not an isolated case.

3. Low Income

Housing prices in Canada are rising much faster than wages are. According to a recent Mustel Group and Sotheby’s International Realty report, 82% of young adults are worried they won’t be able to purchase a home in the community of their choice. Rapidly rising living costs exacerbate the inability to afford a home.

4. Long construction durations

It takes about 6-10 months to build a house in Canada. That includes the 2-3 months it normally takes for an architect to plan it, design it, and secure the necessary paperwork.

A sizable chunk of the project duration is sunk in the planning stage. Coordination between the client, architect, engineers, contractors, developers, and building officials necessitates multiple meetings over a long period.

5. Shortage of Construction Workers

According to the CMHC, the Canadian construction industry had 81,500 job vacancies in Q1 of 2022, which was more than double the same period two years prior. The shortage of labor is another major contributor to the housing crisis.

Addressing the Root Causes

Solving the affordable housing problem means addressing the root causes to increase supply and decrease demand. This includes:

  • Allocating more land for affordable housing developments
  • Building more houses, especially where shortages are most severe
  • Making houses cheaper to build, such as by reducing material costs and project durations
  • Making houses faster to build, such as with less labor-intensive methods and expedited planning processes

 Now, how can generative artificial intelligence help on these fronts?

How Generative AI Helps Solve the Affordable Housing Problem

Here are some ways generative AI can help solve the affordable housing problem:

Reducing the Duration of Project Planning Phases

Generative AI can compile standard design solutions and building codes in an ever-expanding database. It can generate dozens of schematic designs consistent with up-to-date standards and compliant with parameters set by the designers—often in mere minutes. These designs can then be reviewed and refined with more input until a final design is accepted by all parties.

Maket is already helping architects cut their projects’ planning phases significantly. It leverages a vast database against a designer’s vocal inputs to generate plans and designs in real-time. This opens the possibility of arriving at the approved development-ready iteration at the first client meeting.

This innovation alone can reduce project durations by several months, allowing architects and developers to build more houses in less time. Applied on a national scale, generative AI is a promising solution to the affordable housing problem.

Smarter, Faster Community Planning

The use of generative AI extends past the realm of architecture, as software like Construction.AI helps developers plan urban regions and infrastructure with much greater accuracy and speed and with much smaller margins of error. These plans can likewise be refined and updated in real-time, drastically reducing project durations. Generative AI can also help with the design and deployment of affordable housing projects and generate designs that are comfortable and sustainable.

Faster, Less Labor-Intensive Construction

It’s not outside the realm of possibility for AI to be able to optimize construction sites and processes, allowing builders to construct new houses with less manpower. There is already a slew of startups in this space, all with the intention to speed things up at the construction site.

Advancing Affordable Housing with Generative AI

As generative artificial intelligence improves, the possibility of uncovering unexpected, serendipitous solutions to the affordable housing problem grows. And the sooner the better, as the housing shortage won’t be going away soon.

To learn more about how Maket simplifies the planning process and enables architects and developers to build more houses in less time, contact us today.

Patrick Murphy
Co-Founder & CEO @ Maket

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