Draftech – Navigating VR in Residential Building

Custom home exterior VR rendering.

Draftech is the treasure valley’s largest residential design firm, designing thirty to forty homes per month. As the largest in the valley, they are focused on being a leader in their industry and see VR as a way to stay ahead. They are fully embracing the technology and see it as an extremely valuable tool in working with clients. They even had one of their builders suggest that using VR could potentially save $20,000-$30,000 in change orders per property! Draftech is owned by Michele and Brendan Smythe and we first met them through the opening of VR1 Arcade last year. Their son Brendan Jr. had the idea to open Idaho’s first VR arcade and they helped him make it a reality. When we initially met them they were just starting to use VR with clients, but we recently caught up with them to see how things are going.

Viewing a custom home in VR at VR1 Arcade.

While they have gotten further along with using VR, they say it still has some hurdles to overcome within the residential building space. Firstly, as many of use who do VR demos can attest, it’s challenging to get people into VR. People are concerned about what they look like in front of a group. Showing the need for a multiplayer functionality for house design tours will be critical to their business. They told us about a big demo they put on a few months ago in which they invited one of their clients, the builder, the interior decorator involved and several others to see the VR rendering of the space. Unfortunately, the event didn’t go as they hoped. People didn’t spend much time in the virtual space. If they were able to get them in VR (several people didn’t want to get in), they looked around a little bit and didn’t interact with the space or move around much. They were convinced after that experience that having everyone in VR viewing the space all at once could take away much of the hesitation and trepidation they witnessed. Plus, when you are working with residential spaces people are extremely invested in the space emotionally. Having a couple virtually walk through the space together for the emotional connection to be made to the space is where the real value is.

Although they aren’t using VR with every project, they have made some great progress over the last year and things are picking back up even more right now. They’ve put a number of properties in VR for clients and have been incorporating Google Earth to show homeowners the exact view they can expect from their property. They are also working to solve the multiplayer challenge they’ve encountered by enlisting the assistance of Blocksmith XR to create a multiplayer home tour experience. (Stay tuned for a separate detailed blog on exactly what Blocksmith is doing to solve this challenge.) Draftech sees VR1 playing a large role as they continue leveraging VR with the space being used as a virtual showroom during off hours. It could be used with their clients or even external partners such as a builder who wants to showcase the various floor plans being built.

We are excited to see where Draftech and VR1 take the architectural design space in the Treasure Valley!

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