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Builders using 3-D technology for home models

March 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
With new home sales still suffering, builders are trying to find innovative ways to cut costs while still enticing buyers.

There's a builder in the Long Beach area who thinks one answer just might be with 3-D technology.

We're all very familiar with a model home in new home developments. It gives the buyer a chance to walk through the house fully decorated and imagine what it would be like to live there.

But according to builder Herb Gardner, model homes are an expense that may no longer be necessary.

"A three home, fully decorated model home park, over 18 months probably costs a half million dollars," said Gardner.

And that cost is added on to the price of the new home. In a 50 home project, that could mean an extra $10,000 each. But at City Ventures in Signal Hill Long Beach, they have done away with the model home cost.

"With the economy what it is, and home prices have dropped basically 50 percent in the last several years, we had to figure out a way to get costs out," said Gardner. "And one of the most expensive parts about any project is a model home park."

So here's what they did. They replaced the model home with a shipping container. Inside is a television with a high tech 3-D program that takes the prospective buyer through a virtual model home.

"I can take them through the actual tour of the home," said City Ventures Sales Manager Natasha Zabaneh. "It's as if they are walking through the home themselves. As you are looking through the tour and you see a love seat or a coach, it really gives you a sense of what could actually fit in that space."

And if you want to see the home with upgrades, or the exterior of the home, that's also possible with a click of the mouse.

"So the buyer will have an opportunity to see what the entire neighborhood is going to look like," said Zabaneh. "Even though they can walk outside and we haven't built anything yet."

Now the third part of the virtual experience is the buyer can then walk onto the property with a sales person and see exactly where their home is going to be built.

"When we formed City Ventures two years ago we made it a mandate," said Gardner. "We wanted to innovate. We wanted to be different."

For tech savvy, first-time homebuyers, 3-D just might work.