Our brains, although incomprehensibly complex and powerful, are not particularly adept at visualizing three-dimensional spaces before seeing them. This is reasonably so, as visual processing accounts for two-thirds of the electrical activity in the brain. Whether it’s translating from a map to the streets or from a construction plan to a house, most of us must see the real thing to fully understand it.  This can prove frustrating, especially in the latter example of new construction and renovation, where the centuriesold industry standard for planning has been two-dimensional drawings. Except for those gifted few with superb spatial awareness, 2D floor plans are not a good substitute for walking through a framed house. Yet floor plans are what we lean on to make drastic, long-term decisions when designing a custom home or large renovation. Enter 3D architectural modeling software – the possibility to affordably see photo-realistic images of our homes, inside and out, before they are built has become a reality in the last decade. 

At Bost Custom Homes we now offer 3D architectural modeling to our clients with the benefits of photo-realistic renderings, video game-like models of the home that can be explored on a tablet or in virtual reality, and fly-through video simulations. Although designing and implementing a 3D model is a $1,000 - $3,000 upgrade depending on the size and complexity of the home, our clients have found immense benefits in seeing and touring their home while it’s still in the planning phase.  The first time we showed a virtual exterior video of a home in design to the homeowner their response was, “This is awesome! I can definitely see what I love and what needs to change!” They proceeded to list several amendments to their exterior selections with confidence and excitement.  In their case, 3D modeling proved a valuable investment by reducing the chance of a costly change-order in the field and by expediting the selection process.

In many cases the cost of drastic change-orders, such as moving load-bearing walls, could be prevented during the 3D modeling phase. The end goal of 3D modeling in custom residential construction will be attained when all the guesswork is taken out of the plancreation phase. Preliminary plans will be explored through virtual reality or a video game-like experience and revisions to the design will be made to the model rather than the partially constructed home, saving thousands of dollars in change orders and preventing disappointment around what could have been. As the technology quickly evolves and refines, we believe that virtual reality models will be indistinguishable from walking through the real thing – at least as it pertains to that spatial awareness deficit previously discussed.  

Of course, with selections such as carpet, hardwoods, tile, and fixtures, nothing digital is going to replace touching and feeling a sample of the product. As a truly custom builder, we will always encourage our clients to visit showrooms and get hands-on with these types of products. However, we have already begun to see how 3D modeling is the future of floorplan development and how it can assist with selection decisions as well. For example, a virtual model may not tell you which interior trim profile to choose, but it may help you decide that you want a 10” profile, and any tool that helps narrow down decision making in custom building is a useful tool. We are excited to continue utilizing and exploring this technology to further improve our design process for our clients.

Evan Bost is director of marketing and green initiatives at Bost Custom Homes, an award-winning custom building firm serving the Triangle.  With 30 years of proven expertise, Bost Homes designs and constructs truly-custom residences with superior craftsmanship, a focus on health and sustainability, architectural authenticity, and structural integrity. To begin the conversation of your forever home, call 919-460-1983 or message info@bosthomes.com. Learn more at www.BostHomes.com  or www.facebook.com/bostcustomhomes.