Architectural Visualization has typically been accomplished through rendering programs made available for larger budget Commissions, and it is the tool for Schematic Design, conveying entire Concepts for approval by an Owner. This is not new, but indeed, it has revolutionized the way we interact with Clients, and if constructed via 3D Models, Visualization has streamlined the Design Team process (i.e., what happens for structure, HVAC, and the site). Many resources are available for more in-depth reading on the subjects of Modeling and BIM.
However, this blog is aimed squarely at the Small-scale Residential and Homeowners Association Markets, Homeowners, who are looking for more ‘surficial’ renovations and were typically left out of an initial, Visualization process due to smaller, overall budgets or CIP constraints - Enter our Recession and the competition of Designers for new Projects. The archaic way of selling landscape and hardscape renovations, typically by Contractors, was to create some sort of plan and associated Budget; however, the fundamental problem here is that most people are not versed in ‘reading’ and deciphering a Plan view. Further, 3D site constraints, such as grade changes and above-ground structures, were not accommodated until Construction crews were on-site, resulting in either chaos or worse, an unwanted Design solution. An Owner was stuck, once this was purchased.
So what’s a Designer to do? Using readily-available, digital tools, we can compete in this Market through the use of quick, digital “sketches,” which are easily “read” for Design style, Element placement, and useful for Construction Budgeting. The process for some Owners may end there - "DIY Guys" can take it for simply design ideas. Others, such as HOA's may simply use to gain Board and Community Approval, to move forward with a Project/associated Budget, at a later date. As a business decision, I have actually eliminated the use of a Conceptual Plan within these Residential Services through this methodology – opting for quick, black-and-white plans of Demolition and Construction Plans (more of a Design Development phase, for you Designers, and one that could be bid). After all, the Schematic or Conceptual Plans were beautiful but were not easily read by a layman and resulted in large contingencies (when bid) for Cost opinions anyway; further, it was time that resulted in additional fees for Owners and was not “used” for additional Design understanding. “Going 3D,” immediately, has resulted in a streamlined, efficient Design process, one that’s easily understood and “available,” for “likes” and “dislikes” and opens a more fluid dialog with your Client. They are more comfortable with the process, amazed by the results, and as long as the Visualizations are accurate - It’s insurance – of what will be constructed, where, for all concerned.