Improving Business and Technical Operations within Timber Frame Self-Build Housing Sector by Applying Integrated VR/AR and BIM Technologies

  • Lilia Potseluyko Amobi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Timber Frame Self-Build Housing Sector in the UK amounts only 7-10% market share than other housing construction sectors in the country. It is relatively common for people to build their own homes in other countries, with Austria self-build share being 80%, 50% and 60% in the US and Canada, respectively. Bespoke houses in chosen locations appeal to clients with an opportunity to save up to 30% on market value, equip the house with high energy efficiency level and the latest home technologies. The UK government has recently introduced policies to encourage self-building. Nevertheless, while the problem awaits resolution on a macro-economic level, the kit home manufacturing companies – the core providers in the self-build sector, can significantly contribute to the popularisation of the self-build by innovating their workflow.
For clients who make buying decisions to self-build, having little or no knowledge of the construction industry, the major challenges in communication with professionals are spatial awareness, visualising technical drawings and understanding construction process stages.
Virtual Reality technologies, frequently described as empathy machines, can successfully aid clients and professionals in a more productive interaction process. Gaming and simulation have already proven to be efficient in resolving problems in science and business. However, the next challenge is designing data-rich Virtual Environments to enhance clients' spatial understanding and simplify architect-client business/marketing communications, provide parametric customisation options, consolidate quantification, and export data directly to manufacturers software minimising fragmentation across the entire BIM lifecycle.
This research presents a comprehensive study to exploit innovative approaches and the capabilities of these technologies. The study is specifically adopted to implement small and medium-size architectural and construction practices with a limited budget and time dedicated to visualisation creation.
Exploratory theoretical research was conducted in the latest BIM, Computer Science and Business and management scientific literature to establish KPIs for measuring successful interaction and collaboration in TFSBS. In addition, empirical evidence was collected to identify the optimal technology for achieving the study's objectives. The iterative stages of the prototyping followed the agile software development methodology.
The collected evidence proved that game-like interfaces combined with the power of BIM could provide simplified data delivery to a client, leading to customer satisfaction and increased sales due to confidence in the product. The designed workflow and templates were tested in the case study of a small self-build construction company. The staff was trained to provide BIM data in the correct format and use supplied game templates. The case study demonstrated that automation of the VR House Configurator creation is achievable.
The study's outcome is the prototype template for core team members to regenerate BIM models in the game environment and utilise the house configurator's organised furniture library and costing interface. Furthermore, the usability tests confirmed the applicability, practicability and validity of the developed framework and tools to deal with the revealed challenges in the self-building sector.
The research achieved all initial objectives. It also achieved an extra objective proposed as part of a business to help implement 360 Images Web VR solutions compared to the stand-alone mobile app development.
The Research provided a fresh approach for the companies in the sector and a step-by-step guide for implementing the innovative changes and detailed descriptions of the methodologies and workflows. The case study project has demonstrated an increase in turnover sales by £170000 attributed to improved workflows. The change in annual sales turnover expected in three years resulting from the innovation: £1330,000.
One of the main contributions of this project was providing a practical exemplar for agnostic BIM interfacing to enable the development of client applications, e.g., Autodesk Revit. The developed software proves the concept and demonstrates the basic functionality necessary for concurrent multi-user, low-latency openBIM interactivity and data concurrency. It demonstrates a significant step towards effective inter-organisational collaboration along with low-latency data sharing.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Teesside University
SupervisorFarzad Rahimian (Supervisor) & Nashwan Dawood (Supervisor)

Cite this