Shopping for a new house online is not as easy as it may sound. You can browse from a horde of different house types by off-site manufacturers and volume house builders. Or you can easily find an architect in order to get a fully customised Grand Design style house. However, none of these options offer a quick way of finding a home that suits your spatial requirements, personal preferences and also fits within the budget. While consumer product companies use mass-customisation technologies at increasing rate, the concept of configuring and ordering houses online is still in its infancy.
Product configurators are by no means a new marketing and sales method; nearly every web user knows that cars can be customised online before buying. Besides configuring your new Porsche or a new pair of Nikes, you can also configure to order jewelry, furniture or almost anything that are small enough to be 3D printed or CNC routed. A good product configurator combines exciting shopping experience with the efficiency of an automated manufacturing system into a highly productive ‘vending machine’.
Nevertheless, unlike car and other product configurators, house configurators are hard to come by. Apparently one of the reasons is the sheer range of design choices that such a house configurator has to offer in order to satisfy potential home buyers’ needs. But wait, couldn’t the home buyer be offered a way to pick a house type first and then the opportunity to configure the selected one later?
Just like one would need to decide for a particular car model before choosing the colour of brake calipers or the type of seat upholstery. Indeed, offering a number of different configurators would solve the problem of not having enough choice. Thus, in order to have a scalable impact on the housing industry, a number of flexible house types is needed first. Creating such a collection of customiseable house types would require a solid platform technology that allows rapid modelling of configurators. This platform can possibly offer the buyer a standardised way to navigate and compare choices, becoming an important decision making tool on the way towards commitment and ultimately to the decision to buy.
For the custom home suppliers – developers, manufacturers, and architects – the configurator technology would reduce early stage design consultation, take away the need of endlessly generating price quotes, reduce time needed for dealing with individual customisation requests and enable new ways of upselling. In addition, online configurators can be equipped with modern web analytics that give insights into customer preferences and help developing better house products.