A couple in the future decide to extend their semi-detached home - here’s how they might do it

Adrian Malone

BIM and other innovations will transform the everyday experience of construction for consumers. This transformation will be far reaching. Here is my prediction about how technology and process will combine to create a very different experience for a couple extending their home in the future.

A couple live in a two bedroom semi-detached on the outskirts of a small town. They had lived in the house for three years, and even when the baby came along it still worked for them as a home. Their son is due to start school in another year, and a new baby is on its way. They considered moving to a larger house, but do not want to move away from their community, and the local primary school is excellent. Larger houses in the area are out of their reach financially.

So the couple decided to extend their existing home. Securing planning permission was a simple process. The builder they hired to carry out the extension modelled the new build in 3D with all the necessary planning information embedded into the model. The model was uploaded to the local planning authority’s online planning system, automatically populating the relevant information.

The couple ran off a few quick models on their home 3D printer to help compare different options

Planning permission was granted and the project moved forward. The builder popped by one afternoon and used 3D laser scanning to capture all necessary information about where the extension would go. The existing interior of their home was also scanned and a new 3D model generated showing how the new spaces would fit with the existing layout. The couple spent that evening using a special configuration tool on their tablet pc to finalise their choice of layout, room sizes, fixtures and fittings and colour schemes for the extension – all within parameters controlled by the software. They ran off a few quick models on their home 3D printer to help compare different options. As they altered the specification the system provided live feedback on costs and flagged up alerts to warn about any issues which might result from the decisions made. Once happy with the specification and price, they submitted their model back to the builder.

The following week the builder arrived on Monday morning to cut the foundations. A remote controlled robot was lowered from the trailer and began work digging the foundations, always under the watchful eye of the builder. A new composite material was mixed on site and pumped into the foundations, with special brackets precision fitted into the substructure.

The modules were lifted by crane and dropped into place. The extension was up in less than two hours

The next day the extension arrived on the back of three large trucks. The modules were lifted by crane and dropped into place. The extension was up in less than two hours. The builder moved inside and used laser guided cutting equipment to cut through the existing side wall at precisely the right locations to correspond with the door openings which had been pre-cut into the extension modules. Modular door units were installed in minutes, and the areas finished. The couple walked through the newly created openings to find their new downstairs living space, and upstairs master bedroom fully finished with every detail matching the model they had configured on their tablet a week earlier, right down to the fitted carpets and furnishings.

Just two weeks after receiving planning permission, and with just two mornings on site the new extension was built and in-use by the family. The couple reflected on how messy and time consuming house extensions used to be.

What are the construction challenges which must be solved before this vision can be realised?

Adrian Malone is a director at Faithful+Gould with responsibility for BIM, knowledge management and commercial research