Now, one architectural communications company, Focus 360, is teaming up with a virtual tour provider, iPIX, to take this technology one step farther. Rather than panoramic still photography of existing models, Focus 360 Virtual Models offers virtual tours of "unbuilt" models, by creating computer models of the homes from a builder’s drawings.
Although virtual modeling is nothing new, especially in the construction field, the ability of a prospective buyer to "walk through" a home that has not yet been built - trying out various finish options, adding or removing furniture, even changing the floor plan instantly - is new.
At its The Wildhorse at Allen Ranch Community, Centex Phoenix built two traditional, fully decorated models and used Focus 360’s Virtual Model System to create tours in its sales center of the other five plans. In the first few weeks of opening, three of the company’s seven sales were non-modeled homes.
Virtual tours are cheaper than built models. Focus 360 co-founder Steve Ormonde says builder costs range from $1 per square foot to $4 or $5, depending on the model complexity and the labor involved.