Eric Rawlings Defines Efficiency with ArchiCAD
Custom residential architect, Eric Rawlings, of Rawlings Design has created an efficient process to designing and building homes since his first exposure to ArchiCAD more than fifteen years ago. Rawlings converted his experience in working with 180,000 square foot schools to creating homes – a vastly different type of architecture, but one for which he’s able to take full advantage of the features of the ArchiCAD model.
“The schools required a different mindset from a house. What I’ve done is learned to make the most of my models; I see them as a very effective tool. It is powerful, but if you don’t use it well, it can be akin to trying to cut paper with a band saw. Sure you can cut it, but the end result might not be what you’re looking for.”
“I get the most out of the model; I get client approvals quickly because I don’t show 2D drawings like elevations and sections that can be hard to visualize for a person without any architectural background. Because the 2D drawings typically require embellishment and notation, by only showing 3D images and plans, I avoid duplicating work when changes are requested during the design process. The 3D model makes it all clear because the client instantly understands what they’re getting. At the same time, the building information modeling process generates real walls. I have my composite structure set up and I line up my concrete foundation from the beginning.”
Rawlings explains further, “I have been able to create permit drawings from the beginning and generate an entire house that is not just a box. I’m building with dimension, eliminating confusion in the field, and working with builders who’ll understand what’s going on from the model. Start to finish, I can create a home design in 50 billable hours.”
Not only is ArchiCAD helping Rawlings to be efficient, he’s being proficient – designing forty houses in a single year in 2012. According to him, architects can create a lively practice by focusing on homeowners and helping them bridge the gap between simple, boxy homes and million dollar mansions – whether designing directly for the homeowners or providing quality spec home designs for a builder that are unique and specific to a single lot.
“Homeowners do want a spec house that is well designed; the demand is huge. Cookie cutter homes offer cost savings, but the spec house market has very few options, especially for upper middle income earners that can’t afford the time or expense to custom build. My opinion is you can save money on a home and still get a unique and well-designed house if your architect can make the most of their model. Many talented builders are looking for an edge to stand out from the pack to fill this void and an efficient architect can help them produce the custom spec houses that sell.”
Rawlings works to create a model he knows can be transformed right into permit drawings without any readjustment. If he knows there will be a brick wall at one location in the home, he’ll select it from his customized list of “favorites” containing composite walls, floors, roofs, equipment, fixtures, etc. The schematic translates to construction documents because all the components are there – an efficiency he knows is not possible with other BIM software programs.
“I honestly know I could not create this kind of efficiency using anything else but ArchiCAD. Those 3D visuals are critical to my producing something my clients understand, so I can get their approval. I draw it once with all the information and get it done.”