How to estimate the value of 3D visualization

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I was talking recently with a potential client, a builder from New Jersey, about doing some 3D renderings for him and his clients.  He was very impressed with the quality of my work, but when we got around to discussing prices, he balked.

He said, “Down here people aren’t willing to pay a lot for 3D renderings, although they can see the value of them immediately.”  I’d like to say I was shocked, but unfortunately this was not the first time I’d heard a statement like that — and not just from New Jersey.

So how does someone make a decision about “value” and the price they’re willing to pay for something they admittedly perceive as being of value to them?

A current client recently called to rave about the benefits of 3D visualization for him and his wife in the process of remodeling and redecorating their home:

  • saves money
  • saves time
  • aids decision-making
  • reduces aggravation
  • improves communication
  • eliminates costly re-dos and change orders
  • increases peace of mind

I’d say those things are priceless!  This couple feels that, for their money, 3D visualization offers a great return on investment.

3D Rendering by CastleView 3D.com - Entry hall from great room

3D Rendering by CastleView 3D

I recently conducted some impromptu focus groups with women attending a higher education conference. All of them were well-educated, all were homeowners, and all at some point had either built or remodeled their home — sometimes numerous times. But before our discussion, the majority of these women were not even aware that 3D visualization was an option for them — they thought it was just high-end pixel magic they had seen on HGTV or in million-dollar architectural presentations!

As we talked, their feeling was that 3D visualization and renderings would be of such value to them in their building and remodeling projects that they would be willing to pay 5-10% of the total cost of the project, depending on size and complexity, to be able to actually see and make decisions about their project in advance.  That’s quite a different story than the one I got from the New Jersey builder and others.

So, how do you approach the value proposition?  How do you decide what’s it worth to be able to “see it before you build it”?


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4 responses to “How to estimate the value of 3D visualization

  1. I too would like to hear what others think about this. I would like to get into providing 3D visualization services, in particular, architectural and interior pre-viz renderings, but at this stage haven’t done any market research on cost/value expectations. From the results of your focus group it sounds like perceptions need to be changed.

    • I’d love to share ideas about how to go about changing perceptions. This blog is one thing I’m trying. I want to create greater awareness of this type of service and the variety of consumer-level building and design projects it can be useful for. I think a lot of people really do believe it’s out of their reach.

  2. Kathy, I wish I knew of an ‘easy button’ to change public perceptions of the value of our art… Yes it’s an art in a medium that is totally undervalued. Perhaps it is because of the venue for which it is created –not art for art’s sake but for a marketing tool. Perhaps our emphasis that 3D rendering as a part of the building process is where we’ve become misguided. There is no part of the building process in today’s market that is not subject to “value engineering” or devaluing entirely –from the design process, the quality of the doors and windows to the quantity of nails. Maybe we need to think of 3D rendering more as a graphic art and market it accordingly. Why shouldn’t those in the residential construction industry have to pay the same as any other industry for the marketing processes and materials? It never ceases to amaze me when a client with a multi-million-dollar project balks at design fees that are usually less than 3 percent of the total project cost. The first thing that gets cut from the design package is the rendering.

    I’m in the process of putting together a proposal for services for a marketing company that represents several cabinet manufacturers. I would be providing design and drafting services for their dealers that don’t have in-house design capability. While it’s unlikely that most projects will require 3D rendering work (ray tracing in Chief), it is a service that I am definitely going to offer and I’ll expect to get paid the value of my time and talent. It isn’t usually necessary to provide photo-realistic renderings for cabinet dealers to sell cabinets but there are rare occasions where it is requested.

    I’ll continue to create 3D rendering in Chief as a hobby so long as I have time because I thoroughly enjoy it. I couldn’t make a living at it even when times were good.

  3. I wish I understood why people aren’t willing to pay for good 3D visualization, when it obviously adds so much value — plus extra peace of mind. But I believe it’s mainly the builders who don’t want to pay. As a number of people have commented here, once clients see a sample 3D, they’re usually very enthusiastic and willing to spend the money for more. So I think the key is to educate the “end customer” (the homeowner) about what they should have a right to expect from their builder or designer, and that they need to shop around until they find someone who can deliver.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Thanks for stopping by, Pam — and good luck with your new cabinet job. You do beautiful work!

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