November 15, 2023
In the multifaceted world of custom homebuilding and remodeling, the efficient flow of accurate information is key to any successful project, big or small. Less than a generation ago, the daily paperwork involved in tracking, sorting, distributing, and revising inherently complicated projects often bogged down creative workflow and problem solving. But with leaps-and-bounds advancements in technology — including the examples detailed below — all that is changing. Here are five of our favorites.
Matterport: To help compile a thorough project archive, this advanced camera system uses 360-degree photography, syncing pictures with precise coordinates and measurements to render editable and shareable three-dimensional imagery.
“We have always heavily photographed our projects every step of the way and the shots were always organized so that we could go back to see what’s behind the finishes,” says Giffin & Crane principal and partner Eric Carlstedt. “In the past, that process was painstaking. But with Matterport, the images create a 3-D model you can view through your computer or mobile device from anywhere.”
Bluebeam: To help us compile accurate estimates, this PDF software precisely counts and measures linear and square footages of built space. It also allows us to produce drawings to confirm details with design teams and clients.
Procore: Headquartered in Carpinteria, this construction management technology provides “a centralized database of all the information about a project,” says Carlstedt. “It saves us time in uploading and accessing details about a project and getting the most up-to-date design information to our subs as quickly as possible. It also tracks payroll and site visits, and all the principals get end-of-day project reports for review. Overall, it really raises the level of accountability and makes us all more efficient.”
Importantly, Procore helps homeowners stay very much in the loop, with notifications about weekly meeting agendas and follow-up summaries, plus photo updates, notes, logs, reports, drawings, and documents — all of it keyword searchable and accessible via smartphone, tablet, and desktop, says Carlstedt. “That involvement really brings peace of mind to our clients, especially those who are physically not in town for days or weeks at a time.”
FLIR: These handheld thermal cameras read tiny temperature differences on material surfaces, useful for a number of applications. Most frequently, we use them to pinpoint where insulation is missing and to locate potential leaks. This minimizes investigatory demolition — opening a wall, for example — that may otherwise be required to solve these and other similar issues.
DocuSign: Utilizing e-signatures to management agreements, DocuSign simplifies and speeds up the contract approval process with clients and subcontractors. It also streamlines our annual subcontractor agreements and insurance certifications.
“Information is everything,” Carlstedt says. “By using these technologies, we’re able to gather, save and share a massive amount of useful information in a short amount of time. I think technology is at its best when it both improves your final product while also increasing efficiency and ease of process.”