A transformation is coming, and the Construction industry is at a crossroads. The success or failure of housebuilders, particularly in the Residential construction sector, will depend on their ability to adapt to changes, both in terms of workforce and processes, and in consumer preference.
At present, one of the most significant pain points in the industry is the struggle to complete development projects on time and within budget. The trouble is, too few construction firms are aware of the technology that’s available which would almost completely eliminate this problem. If housebuilders don’t move fast to embrace these technologies, they will find themselves failing to compete with large construction companies that do. The only logical decision is to start implementing technological changes to streamline their processes and deliver improved customer experience to residential buyers.
Data and Communication
Currently, too many housebuilders rely on siloed channels of communication. This means that only certain parties access certain information, and thus communication is stifled: if all information on the project from every single aspect was pulled into one, unified platform, everybody could know what was going on at every stage in the process. Thus, the potential for mistakes is dramatically reduced, saving time and money, and delivering the product (the property) to the end user (home buyer) in time and within budget. Customer satisfaction improves, thereby encouraging positive word-of-mouth, and – crucially – increased profitability is the ultimate result.
A unified platform for communication should equally include material suppliers and manufacturers. We simply cannot afford to continue with the historic problem of delays and misunderstandings between these outside parties and the site itself. When we say that all parties should be involved in every stage of the development, we mean everyone.
Modular Construction and Customisation
One of the key technologies driving digital transformation is the arrival of modular construction techniques. It’s becoming increasingly common for components to be created off-site and delivered directly to site for ‘slotting together’. It is a time- and cost-saving development that allows developments to be built faster and easier. It also, however, opens up opportunities to improve buyer experience – a boon for the marketing department.
Enter the digital twin…
The digital twin has been around in property marketing for a while, but it has yet to be adopted to the point at which it reaches its full potential. At its basic level, a digital twin simply means a digital representation of a physical object. In property development, it means that a representation of the finished home can be created before a single brick is laid, allowing the potential buyer to truly visualise their home in advance. It is this technology that has allowed developers to offer virtual tours of properties in virtual reality, but mostly this has been a passive tool.
The true power of the digital twin lies in allowing the prospective buyer not just to view the property in VR, but to alter elements of it. This is a feature known as ‘rehearsed ownership’, and from a marketing perspective, it is a valuable tool in allowing buyers to engage on a personal level with the property. Where the developer is able to offer customised elements, such as different finishes to work surfaces, fixtures and fittings, the buyer can really make the property feel like their own, before it even exists.
The power of the digital twin, however, goes beyond the marketing suite. Indeed, it can offer benefits throughout the entire lifecycle of the property. As smart homes and smart cities become the norm, this will be an even more crucial function. Data is at the heart of this.
The digital twin gathers data from operational history and comparisons provided by other digital twins that can be used to issue warnings and predictions regarding things like structural integrity, maintenance requirements and energy usage. In this way, the digital twin benefits all the parties involved in the property far beyond its initial sale, with future buyers and property managers equipped with crucial information for years to come.
The time is now. If housebuilders are to survive the coming changes, adoption of technology needs to happen now. Housebuyers, and actually consumers at large, are demanding more choice than ever before, and will gravitate towards companies who offer that choice. Costly delays cost money, and an inability to adapt to the demands of the smart home revolution could spell disaster.
To ensure housebuilders recognise the changes they need to make to the way they build and market properties, the key is to get the word out. Too few are aware of what’s available, and how simple adoption can be, assuming that platforms will be hard to implement and difficult to use. The truth is that it’s not only easy to get on board; it’s also essential.