Dream home

Qantas - - Don’t Miss. . . -

If you’ve ever built a house, you’ll recog­nise that mo­ment when you peer into the bath­room and think, “The win­dow should have been 20 cen­time­tres to the left. And that cup­board is way too small.”

It’s frus­trat­ing for both the home owner and builder. And it can be costly; seem­ingly sim­ple al­ter­ations can add tens of thou­sands of dol­lars to a $500,000 build and re­sult in sig­nifi­f­i­cant de­lays.

It was a prob­lem that plagued builder Chris Ghaleb, of Life­size Plans, who raised the is­sue with col­league Patrick Azzi. There had to be a bet­ter way.

What if clients could walk through the de­sign and make any changes be­fore work be­gan, sav­ing time, ar­gu­ments and cost? It could of­fer a com­pet­i­tive edge for Ghaleb’s NSW build­ing busi­ness, too.

Ghaleb started work­ing on an idea that would al­low house plans to be pro­jected and clients to walk through them. Over two years, he and Azzi pro­to­typed the idea, it­er­ated and en­hanced the soft­ware and scaled and ad­justed the so­lu­tion be­fore they were fi­nally ready to hire ware­house space, con­struct walls on wheels, mount a dozen pro­jec­tors and open for busi­ness.

To­day, peo­ple take a walk through their vir­tual home and are able to make ad­just­ments be­fore it be­comes a costly and frus­trat­ing busi­ness. “We even put in fur­ni­ture so they can sit on the couch in their new liv­ing room,” says Azzi.

More than 1000 peo­ple have used the ser­vice since it launched in early 2017. Azzi says that ev­ery one of them has made some ad­just­ment and a hand­ful have to­tally changed their plans – be­fore a sin­gle brick has been laid. The ser­vice has also been used to check out restau­rant and shop fit-outs ahead of builds.

Other builders and land­scape ar­chi­tects are now sign­ing up to use Life­size Plans, too. “Builders love it,” says Azzi. “The al­ter­na­tive is that peo­ple come and view the house af­ter the build has be­gun and they ask, ‘Can you change this?’ That’s where the ar­gu­ments, the costs and the de­lays start.”

Ghaleb con­tin­ues to build houses but he and Azzi are de­ter­mined to grow Life­size Plans in its own right. They want to li­cense the plat­form in other states and have ap­plied for patents for in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion.

The next step is to in­te­grate aug­mented re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy, al­low­ing peo­ple to walk through their house plans and test var­i­ous op­tions. That’s on the cards for this year but al­ready Life­size Plans is trans­form­ing the client-builder re­la­tion­ship. As Azzi says, “Peo­ple think builders love vari­a­tions be­cause they can charge more. They don’t. They want to build some­thing, make you happy and move on.”

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