What is being dreamed up on a computer is coming to life in housing. Custom designs marry with sophisticated engineering that not only is beautiful, but has high energy performance. Home builders and buyers alike are realizing the benefits of automating the process.

The future is here. Need a new part for your car? Create it quickly at home on your 3D printer. Fancy some dinner? There’s a machine whose nozzles will spurt out a pizza in minutes. Want a new house? Choose a design on the website WikiHouse and press print.

It’s not the stuff of science fiction, although it is still in its infancy. In Dubai, an ambitious young team is planning to build a 3D-printed skyscraper, and the United Arab Emirates government has said it wants 25 per cent of buildings to be 3D-printed by 2030.

Closer to home, the aims and methods are slightly more modest. Big companies such as Legal & General are building thousands of homes by using factories to prepare all the parts which are then assembled speedily on site. The Government has thrown its weight behind the idea to help combat the crippling skills shortage that means tradespeople are becoming more scarce.

These homes – built in volume in a factory – are not glamorous. They are identikit, more concerned with solving the housing crisis than a chic design, and tainted by memories of the sub-standard pre-fab homes of the post-war period.

But there is an increasing number of companies that allow you to dream up a brand new home to your exact specifications, which is then cut out by a computer and assembled in a matter of weeks with the precision of a Swiss watch. Anya and Robin Nuttall turned to Facit Homes to build a roomy house with a pool in the basement and more room for their growing family.

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