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Software solution even better than a flat-pack

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Anyone who has ever struggled to put together flat-pack furniture must have smiled when they heard about Ikea's plans to start selling houses.

However, on a serious note, it's ironic that it has taken a company outside the architecture, engineering and construction sector to respond to deputy prime minister John Prescott's challenge to break the first-time buying gridlock, especially as our industry is said to be wasting around 30 per cent of the money it makes.

An independent survey commissioned by Autodesk showed that a staggering 16.2 per cent of time is wasted though the use of outdated design data. This figure is probably equivalent to tens of millions of pounds wasted each year in the UK.

Maybe those who up until now have been reluctant to let the latest software take the strain may start to rethink when they read these figures. After all, automating and tracking change is the very thing that good software can do, and do well. What it can't do is have the ideas - that is up to architects.

I can see that until more architects shake off their natural suspicion of three-dimensional digital design with its inherent benefits of accuracy and quality, the gridlock will remain.

However, we do have the answer to designing better and cheaper housing - and it doesn't involve young house-buyers having to assemble their new homes for themselves.

Pete Baxter, building solutions division, Autodesk

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