Canadian Contractor

Dave Gray   

Building Virtual Renovations, Part 1 of 2

Renovation Contractor

Have you heard of BIM? That’s Building Information Modeling (BIM is the platform) and as we move towards Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) utilizing BIM, the building possibilities are endless.

By Chantale Pitts, Cadsoft Corporation, and Gary Sharp, CHBA

Do you remember when the internet was new? The first picture was uploaded in 1992. Thirteen years later the first video was uploaded in 2005. Two years after that the first iPhone made its’ appearance in 2007. Now pretty much everything will connect to the internet at some point and this will happen much quicker than it did in the past. Have you heard of the Internet of Things? My point is, that until the internet was there (it is the platform) we couldn’t have the Internet of Things, where appliances, lights, mechanical systems, alarms, door locks, and everything else will soon be connected.

The same thing is happening in the building industry. Have you heard of BIM? That’s Building Information Modeling (BIM is the platform) and as we move towards Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) utilizing BIM, the building possibilities are endless. BIM is an intelligent 3D model that gives architects, engineers, and construction professionals like you the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings.

Why should we care as renovators? Renovators in the United States are jumping on board because of what BIM can do for them. The following statistics came from the annual JB Knowledge ConTech Report for 2017. The report reviews various technologies used by contractors in the U.S. and their adoption levels. VDC is the newest buzzword and it entails collaborating and integrating workflows throughout a project. That collaboration happens by utilizing tools like BIM.


Consider how any one of those items listed above could automate your business by incorporating BIM. But not all renovators are using all the features BIM offers. Many prefer a “one toe in the water at a time” approach to adopting technology, and the area they are focusing on includes the features that help them sell more renovations and sell more upgrades. Specifically, let’s look at one aspect of BIM and how the model can be used for marketing and “Visualization” (47.5 percent of companies using this), “Virtual Mockups”(37.5 percent), and “Selling/Presentations” (34.7 percent) before they dive in and use it for all of the uses listed above.


Creating Emotional Connections

In real estate, sales are made when the customer is emotionally connected to the product being offered. That’s why new-home builders have model homes. Customers can walk in, imagine themselves living in the space, and be inspired by the options displayed. Emotional connection happens because they can see themselves enjoying the home. The sale is not far behind once this connection is made.

How do we create that emotional connection in renovation? In the past, connecting a vision with a homeowner’s needs was attempted through 2D prints or using a 3D model. Confusion occurs when the client says: “I can’t visualize what is happening in this area…” and “I am not sure if that is what I want….” This disconnect stalls the process and sometimes ends it all together. What often happens in these cases is that clients would rather abandon the process than spend money on something they aren’t sure about. When this happens, you lose a sale and, often, a considerable time investment. To prevent this scenario from happening, the home renovation industry needs a better way to communicate to homeowners. Enter virtual reality (VR). We know it sounds all “high tech” and complicated but with simple equipment you can walk homeowners through their renovated space and work with them if they want changes to what you are proposing.

Virtual reality is an immersive experience that gives clients a dry run at reality. Using a BIM model and VR hardware (both Oculus and HTC Vive have gear that includes a helmet) you can transport your client to a virtual space that looks just like their renovated space will look. Each of the two systems include sensors that track movement as the client makes their way through their renovated space and it makes the client feel the space surround them. This sense, that they are part of that environment, is what appeals to the home renovation sector – making that emotional connection with the homeowner while they are walking through their new addition, before they even break ground. VR is one great dividend of having a BIM model.

With software like Envisioneer, changes can be made in the model and then transported back to the VR headset; then watch clients smile when they see their ideas come to life. When customers can interact with a space, walk through it, visualize it, and explore it, they become emotionally attached. 2D plans or a 3D balsawood model can’t evoke that same attachment. That’s why new homebuilders construct show homes – but they can’t instantly change the cabinets to show customers how that might look. Renovators can by using VR.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories