Building offsite: discovering a new way to build homes

Construction company Discovery Homes tried out our offsite manufacturing line to build 4 new homes in Dundee, their first time building offsite in a factory environment.

Factory 1

The company


Discovery Homes is a family business involved in every aspect of building houses, from construction to fitting out to selling. Back in 2018 Discovery Homes were looking to move to full offsite manufacturing to meet increasing demand. They were exploring a move to upgrade their existing facility and manufacturing equipment to automate their manufacturing processes.


Bringing their people with them


Although the company were looking to automate their home building, they didn’t want to leave anyone in their company behind.


Discovery Homes wanted to take their operatives on the innovation journey along with them. They planned on reskilling their employees so jobs weren’t lost in the transition. They brought their employees into the factory for the project, allowing them to gaining knowledge of how to use the equipment. 


Efficient offsite homes


Discovery Homes believed that going offsite isn’t an unachievable option – it’s just going efficient.


The company sought to build a closed panel system with wall, floor and roof manufactured off site and all in one. Using this method, they could build truly low energy, efficient housing.


Automating and manufacturing in this way would allow Discovery Homes to speed up their construction process, increase output to meet demand and build to an affordable price, with reduced waste and labour costs to boot.  


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Discovery Homes worked in our Innovation Factory at BE-ST to trial this new process.  


As a first step in the journey to transitioning from manual to automated manufacture, Discovery Homes operatives utilised our offsite manufacturing line and optimising saw to manufacture existing panel types to investigate compatibility of design, product and sequence, method, process, cycle times and equipment. Manufacturing drawings were prepared by BE-ST in collaboration with Discovery Homes’ appointed architects and contractors. The process of design to manufacture was analysed and streamlined for automated production, greatly reducing the input and time required by several design team members.


This project considered the process from the design stage to erection on site.


Following this process, they got to work building 4 new homes in the factory to be transported to Dundee.


Watertight in a single day


The team built homes in the BE-ST factory using the advanced offsite line available.


The wall panels comprised internal and external closed panels for both the ground and first floor of the home, with windows and doors also installed in the factory. The design explored a pioneering new closed panel design with multiple innovative materials and features.


Upon completion the wall panels were transported directly from the Innovation Factory to site in Dundee and craned into position upon arrival. They had the building envelope watertight by late afternoon, meaning they could erect the home in a single day.


The work undertaken on this project is as an integral step towards implementing Discovery Homes’ plans to move to automated manufacture. Discovery Homes aim to utilise the knowledge captured from this project to inform design, product and process for manufacturing their closed panels.


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  • The dwellings produced were a first for Discovery Homes as prior to this project all of their wall panels have been manufactured manually.
  • Investigation of the compatibility of existing design, product and process with automated manufacture.
  • Working from the design stage to erection on site, this project allowed Discovery Homes to identify, troubleshoot and overcome first-hand the challenges encountered when transitioning from manual to automated manufacture.
  • New materials were trialled and evaluated for effectiveness and ease of integration.
  • This project gave Discovery Homes’ personnel an opportunity to use the equipment and understand first-hand the benefits of automation.
  • All the knowledge gathered from this project will inform the next stages of Discovery Homes’ ambition to move to automation.
  • Discovery Homes gained an understanding of the design and manufacturing process and compatibility with automated equipment.



  • Discovery Homes
  • BE-ST