Solutions that will improve your operations and increase your customer service and marketing
By Andy Stauffer
Since the time man first lashed a stone to a stick and declared it a hammer, civilization has been eager to develop and implement new technologies in the effort to build and improve hearth and home. Today, the term “technology” is most often associated with electronics, but a more appropriate definition as it pertains to building could be: “a practical application of innovation to the process of building homes and communities.” That said, the child in me might also define technology as “cool new stuff.” At any rate, developments in today’s building environment allow us to offer a more efficient, cost-effective, and pleasant building process for homeowners.
Here are a few notable technologies that have completely revolutionized the way I run my business.
3D Design and BIM: We now have an amazing ability to design a home completely before we actually build it, using 3D rendering and Building Information Modeling (BIM). Programs such as AutoDesk’s RevIt allow us not only to be much more precise with dollar figures, but also remove the mystery for our clients who struggle with “seeing” the completed home. Consider: it is the client who has the biggest investment in the building process, yet the client has historically been the last one at the table to be able comprehend the finished product. With 3D and BIM, this is no longer the case.
The Cloud: Since introducing Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon Web Services to our process, we’ve all but eliminated the need for paper documents, file cabinets, three ring binders, and manila folders. Now, virtually everything that accompanies our building process is immediately accessible to everyone on my team: vendor quotes, plans, budgets, contracts, engineering letters, jobsite photos, and more. With the Cloud, my team can access our documents and files electronically, anytime, anywhere, using any device. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen my stapler in months.
The Client Login: In addition to giving my team access to all project information at all times, giving our clients access to information about their project has been a tremendous benefit. A few years ago, my company established an online client portal which replaced the organic, in-house communication system we’d developed over fifteen years of doing business. We now have software which helps us manage the “paper trail” of a job, preventing the infamous “Oh, but I thought…” moment where a client remembers a previous conversation or decision differently than the builder. Our clients are able to go to their login section and make product selections, review and approve change orders, monitor their allowances and budget, request information, and track job progress.
Virtual Home Tours: This is the latest addition to our arsenal of new tools for building and marketing, and is the embodiment of the term “cool new stuff.” Now, in addition to viewing a set of floor plans or photographs of our homes, clients can simply take a virtual tour online. While virtual tours are not a new concept, they have evolved significantly since the late 1990s when they were first introduced. Gone are the days of grainy low-resolution, long load times, and the ability to only view certain parts of a house. Today’s virtual tours are nearly as good as walking through the real home.
We recently used a Matterport Pro 3D Camera for a virtual tour of a home we built in Black Forest and we were amazed at how high the resolution is, how low the cost was, and how fast the turnaround was from the day it was shot to the day we put it on our website. You can click on just about any room, any angle, and any fixture, then zoom in and see it in great detail. We’re excited about this next step in our ability to showcase our homes, and so are our prospective clients.
I hope these new tools that have helped grow my business and empower my clients can help you as well. I believe a rising tide lifts all ships, and these new advancements are available for all builders to utilize if they so choose. From my experience, they’re certainly worth the investment. Good luck.
Andy Stauffer is the Founder and President of Stauffer & Sons Construction, a custom homebuilding company in Colorado Springs, CO. He may be reached at