Toy fads come and go, but Lego is in no danger of pulling a Tamagotchi. Far from it. Revenue is up, more movies are on the way, and complex building kits continue to burn up the free time of kids (and adults) worldwide.
All this leads us to wonder: If Lego continues its slow march toward world domination, what are the odds that some lovable maniac will construct an entire life-size home from the colorful plastic bricks? And at what cost?
We contacted designer Sean Kenney, one of only a dozen or so LEGO Certified Professionals on the planet. Yes, that’s his job title—reserved for people who are, he said, “actively, physically, tangibly using their product in some creative and commercial manner” and engaging with the public.
He and his team have built life-size polar bears, 6-foot-tall dogs, and portraits made from nothing but plastic bricks. The dude knows how to tackle big projects and is regularly asked to think on a grand scale using nothing but tiny parts.
As an artist and designer, his work isn’t cheap. But a life-size house? That’s a different set of bricks. “Let’s take a microcosmic example,” Kenney said. “A four-foot-by-eight-foot sheet of drywall costs about $10 at the hardware store. If I just wanted to build a sheet of drywall—not a house but just the drywall—it’s about $2,000 retail for the Lego bricks. And then you need the labor. It’s about 9,000 pieces in that sheet of drywall.” Assembly time for that one sheet: about a week.
So, let’s get crazy and assume this house is being financed by an eccentric billionaire with mountains of cash to burn. Even money can’t conquer physics.
“The interesting thing that we all know about gravity is that it likes to pull things down,” Kenney said. Which isn’t a problem if you’re building toward the sky and creatingmonolithic Lego structures. But, he said, “when you want to do a large horizontal thing, that’s tough. That’s why we have I-beams … and stuff we build big, strong things with.”
Lego, of course, doesn’t offer huge, 12-feet long pieces. A Lego I-beam would have to be “built from thousands of little pieces and they’re going to want to split apart.” Ditto for ceilings and floors.
So that’s one huge challenge. The other large hurdle, Kenney explained, is that in standard construction, nothing is perfectly straight. Your home can be a tenth of a degree off its foundation, or a wall may jut out by a sixteenth of an inch, and that’s OK. You can bend and shimmy wood and other building materials without causing any major structural issues. But Lego bricks are incredibly precise blocks. They can’t be forced or shimmied.
Take your foundation, for example: “Say you pour a concrete slab. It’s not level. I guarantee it. It’s probably as level as it would ever need to be for the intents and purposes of a home, but compared to the hundredths of a millimeter in Lego bricks, there are pits and pocks and slopes and valleys all over the place, and so the challenge of trying to work around that without getting cracks and fissures in the Lego model would probably be the single biggest physical challenge that you could face.”
So, is the idea of building a Lego house impossible? No. In fact, the BBC’s James May(along with a merry crew) built a home using over 816 million Lego bricks in 2009. The house, a feat of engineering and enthusiasm, has since been deconstructed after a bid to sell it to Legoland in Windsor fell through. But are traditional construction materials in any danger of being usurped by Legos?
Prognosis: doubtful. A house, especially one that someone intended to live in on a daily basis, would be an enormous expense, surely in the millions of dollars. Insurance would be astronomical as there’s a very real chance the home could collapse at any moment. Adding insult to possible injury, Lego bricks aren’t water-tight.
So, to summarize: If you had the bank account of Scrooge McDuck, the architectural genius of Howard Roark, and an infinite amount of patience, you could do it. But, ask yourself, would you want to live in a Lego house? Maybe for a few hours, but we’re guessing that sleeping on Lego sheets might not be the life you dreamed of building.
Have a tip? A home worth talking about? Hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By: Mike Krumboltz | http://www.realtor.com/news/build-a-real-lego-house/