Smart Designer

House extensions - how can you let customers completely design, plan, cost and supply their own projects?

Problem faced

Housing extensions are always popular because everyone wants to improve their lifestyle and the value of their property. The main restriction is the cost and the complexity of meeting the planning regulations.

Traditionally owners pay others to do the design, to checks the regulations, calculate the cost and manage the project. To some, the cost is too high, or a lack of knowledge puts them off so the project fails before it even starts. Not hard, then, to see the potential for a system that could do it all for you – carrying out the d Drawing, technical calculations, check the planning regulations, calculating the cost of materials and applying for approval.

Technically, realising a workable system was an extremely complicated and demanding challenge for us. Planning and architectural knowledge had to be incorporated into a computerised, controllable and reliable form of software. Many other software development companies had refused the project as impossible or unrealistic within the budget.

The concept had to combine a technical drawing tool with a list of the planning regulations. The system had to not only allow for the technical drawings to be created but also understand the structure of the planned extension, and for shapes and measurements to be subject to legal regulations. And yet another challenge was to convert the technical drawing into a bill of materials required for the planned construction.

Solution developed

SDART has developed a prototype system called "Smart Designer" - a tool that acts as a personal architect and building work adviser. It allows individuals to prepare and supervise housing extension projects, providing them with the detailed drawings for the layout of the extension.

The system is also capable of calculating the projected cost of the designed project. The automatically generated documentation contains all the necessary technical details, views and forms. For the materials selection, the system contains an extensive catalogue of building products. This provides the complete solution for the extension-planning project, from design concept, planning regulations and application process to ordering materials.

The Smart Designer prototype is currently on trial at B&Q.