This paper presents results from the first stage of an analysis of the use of virtual reality (VR) within the building industries of strategically selected countries, namely, China, Sweden, the UK and the US. The aims of the research are to assess VR usage and its benefits within the building industries of these countries and to identify perceived barriers to VR usage and ways of overcoming them. The countries selected offer a range of experience in the adoption of VR technologies and the paper provides an initial analysis of developments at an international level. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior professionals from each of six leading construction companies within each country. The findings included the rationale for the adoption of VR and the barriers to doing so, as well as some divergence between the respondents in their working definition of what visualization and, specifically, VR actually represents.