back to article Please virtualize my reality before asking me to goggle at a fake one

My family's growing up fast so we're considering adding a room or three to the house. I'm therefore arranging all manner of meetings at which different tradespeople run an eye over the place so they can scare me with the price of the stuff we want done. It would all be so much easier if my house was a virtual environment. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Architects are mostly useless idiots. They will show you a lovely rendered version of your plans then charge you loads for any alterations. In fact they just spend 10 minutes tweaking their Sketchup model. Do an image search for "sketchup house models" to see what I mean.

    Also architects don't seem to understand the concept of ducting. I had to drill through just about every load bearing stud in an expensive new build to get the wiring installed. I burned out a set of new augers and the place looked like a Swiss cheese afterwards.

    P.S. Sketchup is easy to learn and there might still be a free version available.

    1. frank ly

      Re: DIY!

      It's now Trimble Sketchup and is owned by Trimble Inc. You can get a free license for some kind of 'lite' version if you promise not to use it for commercial purposes.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: DIY!

      And that's why I don't like to stay beholden to free crumbs form the tables of the mighty. While not quite meant for specifically this, "Sweet Home 3D" may or may not do what you want for _proper_ free - although don't expect to rebuild La Sagrada Familia with it. Of course, if do you need to stay compatible with someone else's sketchup plans, it's all a bit moot...

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: DIY!

        Trimble Sketchup

        You mean google sold something rather than bought? were they short of cash one week and sold sketchup to cash convertors?

        1. ideapete

          Re: DIY!

          They dumped SKP to move into the cheap less data intensive world of photogrammetry and Trimble needed to block competition to their expensive site measurement tools ,

    3. Robert Grant

      Re: DIY!

      Architects are mostly useless idiots. They will show you a lovely rendered version of your plans then charge you loads for any alterations. In fact they just spend 10 minutes tweaking their Sketchup model. Do an image search for "sketchup house models" to see what I mean.

      And anyone can program - tweaking colours in HTML is easy!

      Oh, wait. Programmers also do realtime systems and architects also design things like Falling Water. Do that on SketchUp.

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    The words that lept from the page...

    ... were clearly not those intended by the author:

    a virtualised home can deliver dwarfs

    But they made me want one anyway.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The VR representation of the house also needs to include all the hidden infrastructure: beams; pipes, wiring; brick types.

    Even the detail in the original plans submitted to a local planning department isn't necessarily what was actually done by the builders.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Yes, it would be nice if you could do a 3D scan of the house and get a model of what it looks like inside (the iPhone 8 might be able to do this if does depth sensing as some rumors say) but that's only good if you want to do something like "what would the living room look like with this huge sectional couch I'm thinking of buying" or other redecoration ideas. Once you want to knock out walls, you have to know everything that is inside them, plus what is inside the other walls/floors/ceilings you may try to reroute the wiring/piping/ducting in the wall being knocked out.

      Maybe the sort of THz scanners they use for airport security could do this. Perhaps someday you'll be able to hire such a scan of your home for a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars that could be uploaded into a 3D model that included everything inside your walls.

  4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Building 3d models is a total time consuming pain in the ass.

    Virtual virtual would be enough , ie a panoramic picture or better - a 3d camera film.

    Then the builder can look at it in a browser on his iphone - which is all you can expect from a builder.

    you CANNOT expect him to jump on 3DMAX and build you a dxf of what you will get.

    Even if you provided him with the "exisiting setup"

    I guess the most likely of the fantasy instant=3d-model scenario the author mentions is that if you have a good walk round with a 3d camera , some software could analyse the different angles and make it 3d - which is how i poresume google satallite view does tha 3d trick - whicj i think is pretty impressive. Bet it takes a few datacentres to do it tho

    It would be nice if houses came with proper 3d models from the manufacturers , or even a fucking decent description of where the boundaries are , never mind the wiring. All I got for thousands of pounds worth of "Conveyancing" was a top down diagram of the whole estate , my house being half the size of a postage stamp.

    1. breakfast

      If your house is that small it's no wonder the conveyancers weren't able to find out much about it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was on site while the top two floors of the house were being rebuilt. At one point I realised that a new doorway was going up in the wrong place. Turned out the builders hadn't kept the copy of the plans they were given for the quote. They were just replicating the layout that they had just stripped out.

  5. JLV Silver badge

    Not sure the economics make sense for homeowners

    Assume each homeowner will renovate/build once every decade or so. Yes, there is a lot of money in it for the owner and the builder. Each homeowner ought to solicit at least 3 serious bids.

    But it's a chicken and egg problem. The homeowner needs to have his house redone and can't hold out because his preferred VR solution (out of potentially several) isn't something an otherwise competent builder is willing to work with.

    On the other side, the builder, who's at heart a... builder, not a techy, is not going to invest time and money into building a VR capacity that very few clients are interested in. And if the client is VR-savvy, what's the likelihood that their VR kit matches the builder's VR kit? Keep in mind, once that client's VR has been successfully integrated with, you won't be seeing her again for decade or so.

    Even with massive VR standardization and cost drops, can't see these stars lining up anytime soon because of the lack of follow-up jobs between a builder and an owner. And the disconnect between doing the job in the physical world and "looking good VR-wise" which is a secondary consideration for small jobs.

    VR, and AR, or a mix of the 2 will probably be used more and more on multi-million $ projects. But that ain't quite a kitchen re-do.

    Yes, there'd also be a fair bit of value for savvy homeowners to look around their house model themselves, but that's a different story than getting everyone else to work with it in any serious fashion.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure the economics make sense for homeowners

      Proper architecture software is already over $1000 per seat and real architects have been doing 3-D computer models for decades now. Getting the modeling software to export to a common filetype might take a while, but once it's integrated, it wouldn't cost any more than what they're already paying for it. Then you just buy some consumer level VR hardware for a few more peanuts so you can test it out. After an architectural firm has paid for everything else they need to do a high-quality job, the VR isn't going to be a big cost.

      1. ideapete

        Re: Not sure the economics make sense for homeowners

        Arch-Eng-Construction industry is about 35% efficient and has no intention of letting the client have any info to improve that as the more inefficient they get the more they charge for steadily decreasing quality .

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Not sure the economics make sense for homeowners

          Beats me why we need architects - theres enough homes been designed and built that if everyone had access to all the plans we could just pick an existing one.

          When I was building a large garage the building inspector said "You'll have to pay an architect to do load bearing calculations for your roof trusses" , It was as if nobody had ever built a roof before.

          I said to him "See that commercially available prefab garage that also has 6 metre trusses? They dont pay an architect evertime they sell one of those because the calculations have been done once. My trusses will be identical to those trusses , therefore MY calculations have been done"

          He somewhat reluctantly agreed.

  6. ideapete

    Coming right up

    With project

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There are probably similar apps, but a rough tool I use for renovating/decoraing is an iPhone app which can reasonably accurately measure the plan of a room just by placing the phone on each wall in turn.

    RoomScan is another alternative.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The answer is... LIDAR of course

    I work for a company that makes a type of LIDAR and for internal mapping this is not a bad idea.

    I came across these guys a while back that use real-time SLAM to do mapping off areas.

    This is really cool (because you get to fly a drone around) but not sure you want it destroying the insode of your house! So if you want to walk around and look like a real plonker then the answer is even more clear... put a LIDAR on a spring.

    When I saw this I thought I was in a surreal dream, but no, it actually works.

  9. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Guys, just stick with coding and whatnot, and leave designing load bearing structures to the civil engineers, mmmhkay?

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