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Facit Homes claims to build world's first "digitally fabricated" house

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August 24, 2012

Facit Homes claims to be the first company in the world to digitally fabricate a bespoke h...

Facit Homes claims to be the first company in the world to digitally fabricate a bespoke home on-site

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Facit Homes claims to be the first company in the world to digitally fabricate a bespoke home on-site. The company has developed a process (D-Process) whereby it delivers a compact mobile production facility (MPF) to the construction site, equipped with all the materials and machinery required to transform a 3D digital design into a physical building. “We are the first company in the world to have successfully trialed manufacturing a house on-site,” Managing Director of Facit Homes, Bruce Bell told Gizmag. “We bring our compact high-tech machine to site and make it there and then—its an amazingly efficient way of designing and making a house.”

Facit Homes first designs the house using a 3D computer model, which contains every aspect from its orientation, material quantities, even down to the position of individual plug sockets. The patented “D-Process” then transforms the 3D digital designs into the home’s exact physical building components, using a computer controlled cutter. These components are usually made from engineered spruce ply and are light and easy enough to then be assembled together on site. Since the components are produced on demand, costs are kept to a minimum and lead times are eradicated. “It's not a building system but a way of working,” said Bell.

The compact mobile production facility (MPF) digitally fabricates a bespoke home on site

The compact mobile production facility (MPF) digitally fabricates a bespoke home on site

This unique construction method provides on-site quality control, predictability, cost effectiveness, speed, a low carbon footprint and flexibility. In addition each project possesses an individual design and layout that reflects the needs of its future occupants.

Each Facit home incorporates a thermal envelope, where the home's “chassis” (more like a car than a traditional wooden frame) is airtight and stacked with insulation. This ensures that the home conserves energy and minimizes heat loss. “If you want to get geeky that's 0.14 W/m²/K heat-loss co-efficient for floors, walls and roof,” said Bell. In addition each home can be designed to feature a solar thermal system and photovoltaic panels.

Home owners Celia and Diana of Hertfordshire, UK, were the first to successfully have their home built using the on site D-Process. Their modern two story home features natural unfinished materials to blend in with its rural context and large south facing windows which are triple glazed to maximize heat retention in cold weather. Furthermore the entire 200 m² (2,153 ft²) house only requires a heating system with an output of just 4 kW, equivalent to a single radiator.

Facit Homes were also behind the design and construction of Villa Asserbo in Denmark, in partnership with Eentileen architects. This 115 m² (1,250 ft²) home was built from 800 sheets of sustainable plywood and features a series of angles, pitches and covered verandas which take advantage of natural light and the surrounding woodlands views.

Facit Homes is planning to establish a Danish branch, and has "lots more" homes planned for there and the UK.

The video below explains the D-Process further.

Sources: Facit Homes and Eentileen, via Fast Company

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema.   All articles by Bridget Borgobello
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15 Comments

While that is cool I have to say that Italians in Canada did that concept over 10 years ago in an even more compelling way. Rather than bring the "facilities to the site" they simply took a large hangar if you will and built full sized (2000-3600 SQ FEET) homes, complete with furnishings and finishes in 3 days rather than bringing all the materials to the job site. It cut their costs incredibly and they were able to train crack "commando" teams to build homes in no time. Same approach but I believe way more flexible with what you can build. The houses that were built here are brick and stone homes not the cardboard look that these houses have.

Rocky Stefano
24th August, 2012 @ 09:00 am PDT

World's 1st... NOT.

Prefabricated house building, not even remotely new.

Matt Fletcher
24th August, 2012 @ 09:47 am PDT

I'm trying to decide if you could possibly have missed the point more completely Matt, and I've concluded that no, you really couldn't.

It's not the prefab aspect that's novel (hell, we had prefabs all over the UK after WWII) but that the house is basically created from scratch on site by a machine brought to the site specifically for the purpose of spitting out a house.

Keith Reeder
24th August, 2012 @ 10:37 am PDT

I can't help but notice there are no costs listed for this "incredibly efficient" construction technique.

Probably because it's actually incredibly inefficient.

Jon A.
24th August, 2012 @ 11:41 am PDT

I also think I'm missing the point. So you ship in a CNC router, and stacks of plywood. The CNC cuts plywood to assemble into beams, sheathing, floor, walls, etc. Don't you still need to ship in electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, windows, and roofing. Other than putting together a jigsaw of plywood parts instead of a stick frame, I don't see how this is so innovative. And stick frame can also use sustainable/manufactured lumber. I would like to understand how all these plywood parts are assembled... glue and screws?

dbp
24th August, 2012 @ 01:36 pm PDT

Most construction that is highly valued is of very low quality in the US. Easy to harm and difficult and expensive to repair leap to mind. The destruction of Country Walk in Miami area by a minor hurricane is a great example. It was a colossally expensive disaster and upscale home went to pieces as if made of toilet tissue. Those homes were expensive and the eye appeal must have been high. Materials that burst easily, burn easily, can't take a dunking in water or are easy to penetrate by a burglar have no place in modern housing. Ever see one of those expensive floors that look like wood after a water heater bursts? Or how is it we allow water heaters that burst? it is endless.

Jim Sadler
24th August, 2012 @ 02:18 pm PDT

800 sheets of spruce plywood? That stuff is the most expensive plywood in existence! It is usually used in limited quantities to build aircraft and exotic racing shells.

jeffrey
24th August, 2012 @ 02:58 pm PDT

It'd be even more efficient to design and pre cut everything at a central facility, then ship a package containing *everything*, right down to the nails and shingles, to the build site.

Oh, wait. Already been done by Sears Roebuck & Co. from 1908 through 1940. Somewhere around 70,000 to 75,000 homes were produced by Sears. That's around 2,100 to 2,340 home per year. Any other company produced that many homes a year, even for one year, let alone 32?

With the way Sears did it there was no waste at the build site like there would be with Facit Homes process.

The number of homes under construction with Facit's process is limited to the number of mobile facilities they build.

I don't know if Sears homes' components were made in a collection for each house or if they made stocks of many common pieces which were drawn from to assemble a package for a specific design.

May have been a combination with stock components produced in bulk and pieces unique to each design or not used in many designs made as needed.

When Facit cranks out 2,000 homes in a year, then they'll have something to crow about.

Gregg Eshelman
24th August, 2012 @ 07:48 pm PDT

Bruce here from Facit Homes, to answer the questions -

Before we came up with our approach we asked ourselves - prefab has been around for 100years yet hardly any homes are made in a factory, ( in the Uk) why is this? 

The first thing we noticed is the tendency of factory produced homes to lack appeal or character, which is down to the nature of the factory itself- the factory as opposed to the building site has an overhead; heating, water, rent, cleaning etc. The building site is free.  This means that in order to compete factory has to continually turnover and produce homes thus reducing the relative overhead - this in turn leads to standardisation to aid production. Which leads to thousands of identical homes which history shows are not popular - people want choice, want individuality.

 We realised that there is very little differentiation in prefabrication between fabrication and manufacturing - in that a house can be made in a factory but if it's made by hand then it's going to be very expensive. It is utilising manufacturing processes that truly has an effect on cost, and in the 21st century that means digital manufacturing that has no 'tooling'.

So rather than trying to radicalise the traditional construction processes we decided to integrate technology into exiting on-site methods. In this way we gain the most out of the manufacturing tools but without the factory overhead, or transport logistics and taking advantages of low cost local labour.

And yes we still have to fit plumbing, electrics, MVHR etc but in order to improve and guarantee the installation we make the frame aspect much more advanced - we call it a chassis, like the you would find on a car - pre routed channels for cables ducts etc, ventilated cavities integrated in to the panels, falls for drainage designed in, interfaces for window fitting, joinery around bathroom fittings, stair case caracas - everything is included in the monocoque chassis - this is a big advance on stick built frames which tend to be fairly basic.

Waste - we sell back our timber off-cuts back to the same timber supplier, who burn it in a CHP plant to make more timber, which we buy.

Cost - We guarantee that like for like the  homes we are making currently cost less than the competition - that means bespoke, super insulated, air tight quality homes.  

We would love to have the opportunity to build 2000 homes and prove that we can also do that for less than the competition too! ..... Watch this space! 

Bruce Facit
25th August, 2012 @ 09:33 am PDT

I can not see moving the factory to the build site as being the cost effective solution.

Pikeman
25th August, 2012 @ 10:19 pm PDT

Hi Pikeman

We only take a single shipping container with machinery and not a full blown factory - it really is very low cost in comparison.

Bruce Facit
26th August, 2012 @ 02:38 am PDT

Anything and everything can be done in a virtual world. But this is the real world. There is no substitute for intelligent designers and hard work. The mind has the ability to see and build before a print is ever started.

donwine
26th August, 2012 @ 07:25 am PDT

Truly inspiring. Well done.

apprenticeearthwiz
26th August, 2012 @ 07:29 pm PDT

for those who don't quite see the major issue.... materials have to be delivered to the factory, then builders cut those materials into pieces and put them back together in the shape of a house, once this is done it is then shipped to site and constructed... this method means rather than having a large factory you have a cargo container which is the factory that is put onto the work site and hooked up to the same electricity that the house will eventually be using meaning their electricity is already hooked up and ready to go..... the materials are delivered to site meaning that they only have to make one journey... this is a fairly cost effective and environmentally friendly as it's doubtful that the hypothetical factory would be half way between your materials manufacturers and your site.

I love this project and hope to one day own my own facit home

Stephen (mullet) Hurley
29th September, 2012 @ 02:01 pm PDT

Having built houses before I'm wondering how this could be considered unique. Normally wood is delivered from the lumber yard cut to order, then cut on location, placed where it should go and screwed or nailed into place. You still have foundation, windows, plumbing, electrical, and roofing done seperately. If you think having the wood cut by a computer on location instead of by a carpenter should be considered fabricating well then I guess this is fabuluosly unique fabricating.

Matt Fletcher
30th December, 2012 @ 07:48 am PST
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