Sonell is a medium-sized construction company in Oulu, Finland that builds terraced and detached houses with a founding contracting model in Oulu and the Northern Ostrobothnia region. Sonell’s operating model differs from other Finnish small and medium-sized construction companies, as the digitisation of operations has been strongly involved in the development of its operations since 2007.
Sonell began working with GBuilder in 2015. They use GBuilder from the first customer meeting, and it serves as a communication channel for both customers and other project stakeholders until the annual repairs are completed.
“Through GBuilder, we are able to more effectively deliver on our service promise of customer-centric construction that focuses on open communication and the ability to influence the materials in your own home"Heikki Majala, CEO Sonell
Before the introduction of GBuilder, Sonell used in its pre-marketing images of construction project observations as well as images of previously completed projects. Communication was mainly handled by phone and email. Today, Sonell sets up its own website for the property, which lists the property information and a link to a 3D model of the apartment. In pre-marketing and sales, Sonell combines a physical communication channel and a digital communication channel through GBuilder, which utilizes a computer, tablet, smartphone and VR glasses.
The materials change dynamically in the 3D model, and potential buyers get to try “on the spot” what different surface materials would look like in their apartment. Providing a 3D experience provides a more informative picture of apartment levels and other elements whose size is more difficult to assess based solely on observations and photographs.
Once the sale is closed, a customer path is created for the customer in GBuilder that guides you through the various phases of the project. Within the customer path, the customer is allowed to make material selections for his or her home and to view and sign documents related to the home, as well as to communicate with the seller and other stakeholders. And because GBuilder works as a cloud service, it’s possible to use it in a computer browser, so it doesn’t require you to install or update the software.
“Organising customer and project data into the system in an organised way from the beginning has increased transparency, saved time and improved data quality, no doubt. The benefits of digitising sales and pre-marketing have been most importantly: as an improved customer experience”
Heikki Majala, CEO Sonell
Sonell’s homebuyers have welcomed the use of GBuilder as a communication channel with the construction site. Many of their customers are young first-time homebuyers for whom the use of technology is completely inherent and they have also appreciated the transparency that GBuilder’s use has added.
In the construction phase itself, the quantity calculations provided by the building data model will, of course, play an important role. The surfaces of the dwellings are to the nearest millimeter. The buyer of the apartment chooses the surface materials of his or her choice. The building data model keeps an accurate figure in the quantity calculation for each product and change targeted to the model. Because the products are targeted in the model by apartment and room, distributing them to the right places on site is easy and efficient. Delivery accuracy is improved. Site operations move faster. Mistakes are saved. With GBuilder, all parties have the opportunity to check the location, quantity and additional information about the product, such as the stacking style of the tiles or whether you want a Scandinavian clean line or something else for your kitchen.
“Because of its agility, Sonell's own team and subcontractors prefers GBuilder's IOS / Android mobile application in construction site conditions. It's the whole project in the foreman's back pocket.”Mikael Hienonen, Site Director
GBuilder also acts as a communication channel between the site and home buyers. Through GBuilder, homebuyers can reliably receive all construction time attachments as well as offers for possible alterations. Through GBuilder’s mass communications, the foreman informs all home buyers, marks site events on the program calendar, and receives registrations for site inspections and other events.
In the old days, Sonell knocked on its customers’ doors with pen and paper in hand. Electronic signatures have speeded up and clarified the work considerably.
Handing over a home involves a lot of administrative measures and obligations, especially in RS locations. GBuilder’s building data model provides a tool with which, for example, the customer can take a photo of the deficiencies and measures that require repairs and attach it with comments to the right apartment in the apartment’s data model. The information is passed on to the stakeholders in charge of the process, who update the status of the recorded attention as corrections progress. This allows the homebuyer to monitor the progress of repairs in near real-time. Sonell also uses the same process to record and approve annual adjustment notes.
”GBuilders BIM-based checklist-tool has brought more transparency to the relocation and annual repair processes, as customers can better track the progress of repairs. A return to the old ways of doing already seems impossible. Nobody wants that. The feedback from our customers on the checklist has been exclusively positive”, says Work Team Leader Sakari Lahtimaa.
After the new homeowner has moved in, Sonell will use GBuilder specifically to communicate with customers. In particular, the use of mass messages facilitates interaction, as many bulletins apply to all residents of the housing association, and all persons connected to the customer database can be quickly connected to the mass message. GBuilder’s own calendar at Sonell is used to inform about general meetings and other events, for example, as well as to book annual inspection times
“With GBuilder, Sonell has been able to streamline its administrative functions. Good information flow and transparency even after the apartment has been handed over have made GBuilder an invaluable tool for us. With digitalization, we have been able to implement our service promise to the home buyer from pre-marketing to the completion of annual repairs."Heikki Majala, CEO