How Architectural 3D Visualizations Can Streamline Builders’ Sales Process3 Apr, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff
Photorealistic visualizations can boost customer confidence and help close deals, but they have traditionally been the domain of architects or home designers equipped with complex software and expensive hardware. Now, home builders without 3D design skills can create 3D renderings in a web browser instead.
In every industry, customers want to be sure of what they’re buying — and doubly so when there’s a lot of money changing hands. Selling a tangible product is challenging enough, but when builders meet with potential customers, they’re trying to get buy-in on something that doesn’t exist. No matter how attractive the new building or interior design scheme may be, it’s just a concept, not a reality; the customer can’t caress the countertops or walk into the walk-in closets. Therefore, images that relate the proposed project in precise detail are an essential sales tool.
While blueprints work for some aspects of project planning, they fall short in this role, because most people struggle to translate 2D drawings into 3D experiences. That disconnect creates problems on the front end, slowing the decision-making process and sometimes losing sales when customers won’t commit to what they can’t see. Down the line, it can also disrupt the building process: Discrepancies between the customer’s and builder’s understanding of the project can force midstream revisions and even delay final delivery.
In addition, the creation of those blueprints for customers adds financial and scheduling burdens to the sales process. In the United States, more than two-thirds of home-building companies have to pay to outsource blueprint production to architectural firms. The remainder can turn to in-house architectural teams equipped with CAD software, but it can still take up to a month to deliver a blueprint to a customer.
The Benefits of Communicating in 3D
All these factors make 3D renderings a more appealing — and effective — client communication tool than even the most detailed blueprints. Providing richer detail than 2D floor plans, they can help customers evaluate how much morning light will reach the master bedroom, decide whether the kitchen workflow is efficient, and see if the dining room looks cramped or spacious. Realistic elements including lighting, finishes, and furnishings encourage viewers to connect with a space emotionally and envision themselves occupying it — which is especially important for home buyers.
But for years, the creation of 3D visualizations was a slow process, and restricted to those with equipped with rendering expertise, specialized software, and high-powered workstations. Those limitations are especially problematic for sales teams, who need to deliver project proposals quickly to beat their competitors, and rarely have the design experience or dedicated technology needed to prepare renderings by traditional means.
Today, the cloud’s processing power enables a different technology solution altogether. Those looking to create photorealistic detailed images can now do so through a web browser interface, so a powerful desktop computer isn’t necessary. And on the software side, streamlined commands and the capability to automatically create 3D representations from 2D drawings mean that users don’t need extensive design experience.
Delivering Compelling Imagery Before the Competition
Cedreo is a browser-based application that’s specifically designed to help users set up floor plans and create 3D renderings to show clients — in as little as five minutes. “It is much quicker to draw on Cedreo than on another software application, and definitely much quicker than outsourcing the design according to the client’s requirements,” reported Cedreo’s Angélique Barreau. As a result, sales teams can prepare convincing, highly detailed images to support their project proposals without investing lots of time — or money — in a deal that’s not yet finalized.
For Loft One Contracting, a home remodeling and interior design company based in New Jersey, that capability is fundamental to keeping its projects on time and on budget. The design–build firm relies on photorealistic 3D renderings and floor plans to set accurate expectations of what finished projects will look like, and it needs to deliver them quickly.
Loft One used to outsource the creation of floor plans and visualizations, sending dimensions and hand-drafted plans to an outside architectural firm. That process led to disappointment, however: It added time delays and extra costs to every project, before clients had even decided to move forward. The architectural firm charged extra for 3D renderings, plus additional fees for plan revisions. And the time spent shuffling designs among the outsourcing firm, the client, and Loft One slowed down progress in the highly competitive pre-sale phase, when speed was of the essence.
Robert Zerrenner, CEO of Loft One, knew he needed to streamline the conceptual design phase of his projects in order to save money and grow his business. To provide project visuals to his clients more efficiently, Robert Zerrenner looked for an application offering “ease of use and ability to design and present many options at an affordable rate,” he said.
Robert Zerrenner used Trimble Sketchup at first, but he couldn’t afford the time required to learn the program, so he turned to Cedreo. Now, the Loft One team imports initial floor plans received from realtors into Cedreo, traces them, and creates a finished floor plan and 3D renderings — in less than an hour. “Cedreo is very intuitive for us … it was very, very simple to learn,” Robert Zerrenner reported. “There was a lot of ease of use, and any questions that we had were answered by our Account Manager in real time.”
That’s a common experience among users who are transitioning to Cedreo from other software applications, Angélique Barreau noted. “According to our users who used Sketchup before, Cedreo is much easier to use and more intuitive,” she said. “As soon as you’ve watched the ten-minute ‘getting started’ video to understand the logic of the software, you're able to draw a simple project.”
To speed things up further, users can import an existing 2D floor plan in PNG or JPG format to use as a drawing template. They can also repurpose their previous Cedreo projects, adapting, resizing, or recoloring existing elements instead of starting from scratch each time. And once the client approves the project, the home builder can get a jump on the creation of construction documents by providing the Cedreo floor plans to the civil engineer working on the project.
Getting Started with Cedreo
Cedreo offers a Pro plan, intended for individual users, at $79/month. An Enterprise plan aimed at firms with multiple users supports sharing projects among team members and allows for more renderings per month.
For those learning to use the software, Cedreo provides tutorials, training videos, and live chat with members of its support team. Users can even schedule a free one-on-one training session during the 14-day free trial period.