DAVE BESSEY, PRESIDENT OF PHOENIX-based Maracay Homes, is typical of many builders: He used to pay a rendering company $40,000 to draw water color conceptuals he would present to a planning board and then spend another $40,000 to get marketing renderings printed for his brochures.

Now, Bessey uses Outhouse, a Phoenix outsourcer that takes a rough conceptual from the architect, develops a final 3-D color rendering for a planning board presentation, and prints Maracay's marketing materials—all for half the cost.

“Without Outhouse we would pay twice,” says Bessey. “The architects would do the conceptual work for us for a design review ... but the quality of that work wasn't good enough to print a brochure for marketing materials.”

Outhouse was formed a few years ago through the merger of Architectural Solutions, a CAD drawing firm, Nexus Multimedia, a 3-D modeling and rendering company, and printer Centeon Corp. Today, along with Maracay, Outhouse boasts clients such as Beazer Homes, D.R. Horton, Hacienda Builders, Meritage Corp., and Richmond American Homes.

Steve Curtis, architectural manager for D.R. Horton's Continental Series division in Phoenix, which will close about 3,000 houses this year, uses Outhouse to draw up 3-D renderings and models.

In Horton's case, the builder does its own CAD work. D.R. Horton then sends Outhouse a CAD file, and Outhouse executes the 3-D renderings and models. Horton then uses the 3-D models in sales brochures, for displays in its sales offices, and for 24-inch-by-36-inch posters it uses to make presentations to local design review boards. Even though Outhouse has a printing service for marketing materials, D.R. Horton prefers to print in-house.

“We have full rights to the PDF files,” says Curtis. Curtis says designers at D.R. Horton can log into a file transfer protocol server that Outhouse maintains to make annotations to floor plans and renderings. Once an annotation is made, Horton e-mails Outhouse that the change has been done and Outhouse uploads a revised version for Horton to review. Horton then will either make further annotations or sign off via e-mail that it approves the change.

Steve Evans, marketing director at Outhouse, says the outsourcer also offers additional Web-based services.

One product is an electronic bidding service in which Outhouse coordinates work orders and blueprints and links them to a secure Web site where the builder's subcontractors can access the information. Outhouse will also burn the digital information to a CD for subs who prefer to receive that technology. Another service is an interactive site plan, which lets builders show customers a 2-D top view of the house. Customers can see how the house sits on the lot as well as where the sun rises and sets.

Outhouse also offers an interactive floor plans tool that allows builders to pull up a Web page and show customers a view of the floor plan. Customers can sit down with the builder at a kiosk and customize their floor plan. They can even select options from home via the Web. With a 2-D view of the floor plan, customers can add or subtract options such as extensions to the garage, a bonus room, an extra fireplace, as well as drag-and-drop components, including additional outlets, ceiling fans, furniture, and phone jacks.

As an example of how Outhouse prices its services, a 3-D model and a rendering of a front view is $475 per elevation.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.