Why you need a builder who uses virtual reality, not just 3-D modeling

You would be hard pressed to find someone who has built a custom home who does not have one or two things they would have changed about their home. Perhaps it is a window they would have moved over 6” to capture a better view, or their master bedroom is just too big.

What if there was a way, while designing your custom home, that you could walk through it and see the views, see the interior details, feel the ceiling heights and space in your kitchen?

What if you could do this with your design team and give them feedback for instant changes to the design so you could see all the options and decide which best suits you? What if your team could effectively build the house twice: once in the computer where decisions are made and issues are resolved, then again in real life where the vetted design and plans are simply executed at a faster pace and for a more precise cost?

High-end custom homes are now being designed to marry centuries old building trades with the latest technology to give clients the most informed (and fun!) experience possible while designing, building and then living in their custom home. Large-scale commercial builds have benefited from integrating technology into their process, and it is long overdue for residential projects to do the same.

Through Virtual Design™, custom home clients work alongside their team (usually consisting of your builder, interior designer and architect or engineer) to incorporate BIM (Building Information Modeling) principles of 3D modeling and project management with clash detection, interior design, accurate takeoffs and estimates, inventory management, energy and solar studies. The result: you see every detail as you walk through your home in a virtual reality setting to truly experience your custom design before construction begins. The benefits extend beyond just visual to proven time savings during design and construction, and cost savings through the building process and the life of the home.

BIM is a 3D model-based process that allows us to efficiently plan, design, and construct buildings. Virtual Design™ combines the architecture model with the engineering model to check for any issues through clash detection while still in the planning stages. The benefits of this step are priceless. We address and resolve problems that can take days or weeks to work out on the jobsite, oftentimes with additional stamps needed from engineers or architects, sometimes government entities as well. These delays affect the delivery date of a home and can add thousands of dollars to the final cost.

The Virtual Design™ model is then layered with interior design selections. This step can have as much or as little participation from the homeowners as they desire. Each tile piece and pattern are laid out in their rooms so you can rely on a complete picture of the finished product in the real setting, rather than a few pieces of tile and imagination. Trim, doors, cabinet pulls, artwork, furniture, and family heirlooms are included in the Virtual Design™ model. All of these decisions are made through seeing the completed rooms with the selections in them. We even take your exact slab of quartzite or granite to lay out your kitchen and bath countertops so the best parts are showcased exactly where you want them to be.

Virtual Design™ creates a perfect 3D representation of every item in the house which leads to precise takeoffs and incredibly accurate estimation.

No stove is left behind, no shower head forgotten, no area rug or doorknob left out of the estimate. Virtual Design™ provides a detailed list of every stud, beam and shingle that will be used to construct your home and every item selected to decorate your home. Ordering and inventory management is simplified with visual cues, due dates for ordering and delivery, and all quantities calculated. The goal is to always be moving the job forward, having materials at the site when they need to be a big part of that.

With the Virtual Design™ model created, we squeeze every bit of information that we can from it. Part of that is to do solar and energy studies on the home. Utilizing solar studies makes sure that your home is hot or cool, bright or dark, when you need it to be. Sometimes it may show us that a roof overhang needs to be an additional 6” to prevent the sun from blazing into your bedroom window, or we know that sitting at the head of the dining room table for Thanksgiving dinner may put you in a bright sun spot, so we should orient the table or the room differently. Since this is done in the computer first, we are saving endless headaches and annoyances for years to come.

Energy studies help us reduce the reliance on mechanical systems for lighting and climate control.

We can optimize the home’s design for use of passive energies. Sustainable design can be beautiful, and Virtual Design™ allows you to have both the form of a beautiful home and the function of an efficient one.

Project management on a Virtual Design™ job requires less supervision, encounters less mistakes and delivers your home at a faster pace than traditional methods.

Each trade is brought in to tour the home and their areas of responsibility through Virtual Reality. The framers see what the structure will look like not just in 3D but all around them in an immersive setting. Tile installers see the approved pattern and selections through images that are posted on every wall. The correct toilets are installed in the correct bathrooms, the doors all swing the proper way. Digital photo representations of a complex custom home break down language barriers on the jobsite and leave very little room for interpretation when the house is already built for them. It becomes a matter not of interpreting 2D plans and figuring things out onsite, but executing what was already built virtually, in the real world.  

What is the added benefit of Virtual Reality and why don’t we stop with the 3D model?

It is helpful to think of the Grand Canyon. You know it is a vast and beautiful place, you can watch a movie about it on a screen and appreciate the wonder of the Grand Canyon. However, until you are standing on the rim looking down, around, up and over, you cannot possibly fully understand the breadth this wonder. By placing yourself in your new home with the help of VR, you understand design details, the height of ceilings, clearances for your kitchen, every minutiae of detail in your custom home. We do not stop with the 3D model because we have the ability to put you in the 4D environment to fully understand and appreciate your home, while there is still time to make any changes or edits. Virtual Design™ partners are dedicated to giving their clients the best, most avant garde tools and technologies possible that will result in the best design and building experience for their home.

Virtual Design™ is quietly penetrating the high-end custom home market as more firms adapt to the inevitable evolution of technology.

If your builder or architect does not offer these services, you have to ask yourself “why?” With the headaches, time and cost overruns that plague the custom home market, why aren’t they investing in their client’s happiness and their own peace of mind?