Last week the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported that severe shortages of construction tradespeople were slowing homebuilding and increasing costs. The shortages, as reported by NAHB's new home builder members, affected all trades from rough carpenters to plumbers and masons.  Now, from Australia, comes news that brick masons at least may not have as much job security as that NAHB report would suggest.

The Hadrian X, developed by Perth-based Fastbrick Robotics, can lay more than 1,000 bricks an hour and, in tests, has framed a small home in two days.  Hadrian, essentially a long robotic arm that can be mounted on a track, crane, or barge, uses a 3-D model of the house, cuts its own bricks, applies adhesive, then conveys them to the arm which puts them in place.  The plumbing and electrical systems, windows, doors, and other finish work is performed by human hands.

The machine grinds and mills its own bricks so the building is not constrained by standard sizing. Leanne Garfield, writing in Business Insider, says it can handle bricks up to 2,000 cubic inches while a standard brick, at least in Australia, is 115 cubic inches.

She quotes Fastrbrick's director of corporate affairs, Kiel Chivers, that the company's machine, which is not yet commercially available, could shake up the global construction market as it promises to build houses and other structures faster than any human can.  While there is already a shortage of brick layers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that those jobs will increase 15 percent by 2025.

The Hadrian X will build its first house later this year.  It will include three bedrooms and two bathrooms.