Providing Three-Dimensional (3D) Renders as a Business

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Three-dimensional (3D) renders of projects bring a highly professional polish to designs. They are creating an evolution in how designers, builders, and clients experience projects, sometimes while being conceptualized.

When you provide 3D renders of the projects you design, your potential client base opens up to bigger and better clients who are looking for high-quality work, as well as those who may not have the vision to translate 2D CAD drawings to real-life objects.

A 3D render also levels the playing field when submitting projects into awards programs and design competitions.

Although there are many other notable components within your award-winning entry, a 3D render of your building design combined with elements like photo-realistic renders and fly-by animations can help a jury firmly ground the concept you’re communicating.

The above benefits are great; you will be in demand and sought after as a designer when you incorporate 3D renders into your design package. But creating a 3D model of your building design also ups your game when it comes to internal processes, as well.

The digital nature of a 3D model, whether rendered or not, allows you as the building designer to quickly validate design decisions. If something doesn’t look right, try something else.

By fixing potential design challenges early, projects save both time and money, throughout the length of the project. Possibly, throughout the life of the building.

Furthermore, the future potential of this technology makes things even more exciting. Software is becoming more robust and cost-effective, for one thing.

But possibly one of the most exciting possibilities is combining 3D renders with virtual and augmented reality technology (VR & AR).

How To Get The Work

This up-sell opportunity is one that doesn’t require that you already be working for the client to have a foot-in-the-door.

This service is in demand by developers, other building designers, and the real estate industry.

Although creating a 3D rendering is more efficient if you’re the building’s designer, this is an opportunity that can serve as the model for a business, on its own.

Just as with other opportunities discussed before this one, building a network and expanding your contact base is paramount.

However, this is one of those rare instances where you’re talent would also be in demand among your industry peers, those you may often refer to as competitors.

To reach those professionals, change your mindset.

View yourself as a part of a much larger, “team.” Consider this thought, during the gold rush, a few struck gold and became rich. But EVERYONE had to buy tools.

To become known amongst your peers, join local and national associations. Attend each group’s networking events — volunteer to work on committees and submit your work into design competitions.

Do whatever it takes to become known to other building designers. Realize too, this is a part of building design that can easily be done remotely, thus expanding your potential client base exponentially.

3D Render by David Lesser, Windstar Homes, Clearwater, Florida.
3D Render by David Lesser, Windstar Homes, Clearwater, Florida. Attendees were able to visit this home on August 9, 2019 as a part of the Design & Build Summer Conference.

How To Prepare

Finding which software works best for you is essential. In some cases, this may have happened naturally in school, at a previous job, or talking with other professionals.

The recent trend in software is to buy a subscription, to which many developers offer a 30-day free trial, which makes it easier now more than ever to experiment with different software.

Some may perform specific tasks better than others, and there may be some tasks that you require on some projects, but not all. You may end up with more than one subscription, knowing that you can cancel one one, or the other, is not needed at the time.

The world of 3D design and visualization is a vast one and growing daily. Focus your energy by choosing a niche or a style that interests you. Then, become the absolute best at that discipline.

Usually, clients will want to hire someone proven to already be successful at the craft. That means you’ll want to build a portfolio as quickly as possible.

It’s not unheard of for a building designer to provide 3D renderings for free or at a substantially discounted rate, as an upsell to a typical building design contract.

A tough pill to swallow, but if the back-up plan is to sit down and create 3D renderings solely for the sake of creating them, why not provide something useful for an existing client and risk the word-of-mouth referral you will stimulate by having done a fantastic job?

How To Handle The Job

As an existing design professional, you already know that there are various “levels” of 3D rendering. Some software provides a “sketchy” look, some a more “cartoonish,” others a “photo-realistic” result.

Some offer all three and the many other degrees in between. Decide if you will be specializing in one or offering a “menu” of services. Organize your portfolio and structure your pricing accordingly.

One of the greatest frustrations renderers have with their clients is that it’s too easy to change their mind.

What if we move the refrigerator to the other side of the kitchen? What if we turn from vertical cladding to horizontal? What if we use marble instead of wood?

Some alterations may be easy. Thwart some of this by making expectations clear in your scope of work.

Are you providing the rendering as a part of your building design contract, or are you working from someone else’s design that is understood to have been already vetted and complete?

If it’s the latter, remember that one of the primary benefits of 3D rendering is the visualization aspect — flaws in the work before you will be revealed as you are doing your job, which is a good thing.

Use these scenarios to educate the client on the enormous value you are providing.

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