Blu Homes, the Waltham, Mass.–based modular home manufacturer, on Monday launched a new online design tool that allows home buyers to see the exteriors and interiors of different house plans in 3-D, and customize different elements within the rooms of those plans before that house gets made in one of Blu’s two factories.
The “Configurator,” as this tool is being called, is accessible online for free by any customer. Initially, Blu Homes is encouraging buyers to use the Configurator in tandem with one of the manufacturer’s designers. But eventually customers will be able to customize their homes themselves. Instant pricing related to those changes will be available online soon.
“The Configurator puts home buyers in the driver’s seat,” said Maura McCarthy, Blu Homes’ vice president of sales and marketing and co-founder, in a prepared statement.
To get started, users download a utility application that allows them access to Configurator’s game-play format. Once launched, the Configurator lets users choose from one of Blu Homes’ six home styles as well as the house plans for each. Users can then burrow down to select exterior finishes and colors, interior finishes, appliances, fixtures, flooring, and cabinets.
The software provides for a 360-degree panorama in each room of the house that can be modified, and allows users to rotate the room at various angles to get a closer look at whatever element they want to change. Some elements, such as appliances and cabinets, need to be selected as packages. However, while palette choices are programmed to coordinate colors for an entire room, the user has the option to select individual colors, and mix and match within rooms.
Even heights of certain elements are customizable.
The technology behind the 3-D home designs in the Configurator is Blu|3-D, proprietary intellectual property based on design software typically used by automotive and aeronautical designers and engineers. To create the Configurator, Blu Homes consultied with experts and gaming developers to design a consumer-friendly user interface.
When the user completes the process, he or she can share it with Blu Homes or a friend. And if the user has already purchased a house, that 3-D model can be sent directly to Blu Homes’ 150,000-square-foot factory in East Longmeadow, Mass., and in Vallejo, Calif., where the company recently purchased a 250,000-square-foot factory that should start production later this year.
John Caulfield is senior editor for Builder magazine.