When you are an architect and you run your own architecture studio, your time is divided between leading projects and dealing with clients.
As a creative person, you’d like to do more of the hands-on stuff and to spend your time designing buildings… but, to keep the business running on high gear, you have to respond to all the incoming inquiries.
You spend a great deal of time talking about possibilities and showing options and often you have to dig into the past projects to show something tangible to your potential clients.
Is this the best use of your time?
This article was written with the support of the European Union European Regional Development Fund, in the frame of the project "PuitAIT vol3 House Machine".
Before the configurator
This was the life of Tiit Sild before he decided to invest in a house configurator.
Tiit is a very successful architect based in Tartu, Estonia. His studio is always 100% busy with work… but Tiit needs to work on creative projects to get a sense of fulfillment.
A few years back, he designed a concept house. He called it “Tube”.
The idea behind the Tube is pretty simple:
“most of the time at home is spent in the living room, kitchen or the dining room. These rooms deserve extra attention. With its tubular shape and the glass facade, Tube opens up those rooms to the surrounding nature, making the indoor living experience more enjoyable”.
Now, the Tube was a great project but pitching it to clients was becoming cumbersome.
That’s where Tiit decided to turn to Creatomus and set up a house configurator.
Shortly after, the Tube Configurator was born.
Over the span of 18 months, about 70 project configurations were generated by potential clients, without the involvement of the architect.
Out of those, several projects moved on into Tiit’s hands, leading to 4 Tube houses successfully built.
“The initial investment paid off big time” - says Tiit.
People like to see the possibilities
“When discussing possibilities with clients, the support of visuals is very valuable” - says Tiit.
“Some clients are just not capable of imagining a space. In those cases good visuals are essential” - he continues.
We all now that creating visuals for every possible option is quite expensive, to the point of being impractical.
“Here is where the configurator makes the difference!” - Tiit smiles.
“Clients are free to explore possibilities and they can see them on the 3D model, in real-time” - he a proud look on his face.
“70 configurations in 18 months… it would have been just impossible without the configurator”.
Engagement doesn’t lie
And then there is the data analysis part…
The configurator provides extensive information about each user’s session.
Looking into those numbers is possible to see information such as:
- time spent on the configurator;
- number of changes made to the model;
- which specific choices were made.
Tiit confirms that users who spent the considerable time “playing” with the model were more likely to be interested to sign a deal for the design of a real project.
A path worth pursuing
Today Tiit invested in a second Tube configurator and, in collaboration with a house manufacturer, he also invested in a configurator for apartment buildings.
The second Tube configurator stems from the knowledge gathered with the first implementation.
Through the analysis of those 70 configurations, Creatomus was able to provide clear evidence of what customers are looking for the most in a house like the Tube.
The second configurator was designed removing all the features of the house that were not very popular and doubling down onto those aspects that were found to be important to customers.
This configurator also offers the possibility to change the shape or the roof, a feature that was missing (and highly requested) in the first configurator.
The most revealing choices (on the left column) are:
- Number of floors - very few people select 2-floors option (omitted in the second configurator);
- Bedroom block layout - saunas aren’t very popular (omitted in the second configurator);
- Exterior finishes - dark color seems to be more appealing than light (Natural is the default, that’s probably why it is the most common);
- En-suite bedroom is a very popular option.
“The Tube configurator became really popular” - says Tiit - “and it really helped me to get to know what clients like about the house. This turned out to be a great advantage in dealing with clients”.
He continues: “When you meet a possible client for the first time, you already have some knowledge about their desires and what they value in the house… this provides you leverage for building a successful relationship”.
Tiit has no doubt that the architect of the future will be more data-driven and will make smarter choices, like relying on the configurator to free his time.
Tiit made that choice 18 months ago and he is not going back. He is an architect of the future already.
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