building better – Helping Finger Lakes homeowners with construction and renovation

Photo by Ray Sheley
06/23/2021
by Corrie Carter

There are moments in life when you realize your space no longer works for you. Some people need more space, others less – and some just need to utilize it differently. 

TiverBuilt, a 3D digital design and construction company based in Rochester, is helping homeowners navigate the changes in their space by using technology to create a dynamic model of their home that evolves as their needs change.

A Friendly Process

When a couple in Pittsford learned they were expecting their third child, it set in motion a domino effect of change resulting in a new, larger home in need of renovation. The family opted to work with TiverBuilt to expedite their design and construction process. 

Although popular in commercial construction, TiverBuilt is one of the first in the country to use single source Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology residentially. Using advanced digital design software, TiverBuilt creates a digital replica of a building – in this case, a home. 

This means that one digital model file is used to document the existing conditions, develop the new design, provide virtual reality (VR) experiences, generate the construction document set and produce material quantities and costs. If a change is made in one view, it automatically updates all other views in the file, significantly improving the design and construction process, and encouraging better communication and collaboration on the project. 

“We understand the major pain points homeowners face regarding visualization, quantification and documenting existing conditions,” says TiverBuilt founder and CEO Lindsay Prichard-Fox. “We don’t just develop their design; we are a resource for them from beginning to end.” 

Measured Approach

When renovating, the digital modeling process begins with a 360-degree-laser scan of existing conditions to capture exact measurements and retain historical data of the home. Prior to laser scan technology, accurately documenting and measuring an existing home was tedious and time consuming. The accuracy of the measurements has a direct effect on the successful outcome of the design process.

“Having a digital model is like having a living file of your home,” says Prichard-Fox. “It allows us to make changes and test those changes before any work is done in the field, which reduces waste generated from rework, tear outs and indecision, as well as catch errors before a single hammer is raised.”

In the Pittsford home, proper ventilation for the hood system over the new range required larger ductwork to be installed. The laser scans used to create the BIM model provided TiverBuilt with the ability to accommodate the new larger duct system thoughtfully and without compromising the overall aesthetic, avoiding problems and delays.

“In the construction industry this is known as a ‘clash,’” says Prichard-Fox. “For proper ventilation, the duct system needed to be 10 inches wide, but the existing wall to house the duct was only 4-1/2 inches thick. We’re only talking about a discrepancy of a few inches. However, the consequences of these clashes can have a significant impact on the design.”

Empathetic Design

“A very common question we help people answer is, ‘Should we renovate or move?’” says Prichard-Fox. “The answer is as unique as the people asking the question, but we stay grounded in the concept of empathetic design – how people live and use their space – to help them determine what’s best for them.”

For the Pittsford family to complete their vision of hosting family birthday parties and Sunday football games, their new home would undergo an extensive renovation, including the demolition of the main-floor kitchen and bathrooms, along with structural modifications and a new kitchen island. 

The TiverBuilt team worked with the homeowners to lay out new floor plans, review design options and consult on final material choices and amounts needed. They also coordinated with the builder, material suppliers, interior stylists and specialists needed to complete the project on an expedited timeline. 

See It Before Your Build It

Homeowners are responding to this new approach because it allows them to experience their space before it’s built. 

With the BIM process, TiverBuilt was able to create photorealistic experiences of every room in the Pittsford home. VR tours and videos were programmed to show how the sunlight would travel through the windows into their new space throughout the day. 

“We can help all kinds of homeowners,” says Prichard-Fox. “If you know what you want, our design becomes a place where we create cohesion out of your ideas, but if you need more direction, we can show you options to help you feel confident in your decisions.”

The Pittsford homeowners knew they wanted their home to have a rustic modern feel. The collaborative BIM design process helped the couple make decisions (and settle minor disputes), including whether or not upper kitchen cabinets should be open, closed, or a mix of both. In the end, they decided to compromise. 

“We say to people that if they can’t picture it, don’t worry, that’s what BIM is for. Then we show them,” says Prichard-Fox. “Visualization is often under-prioritized in our industry. We find when the project team only has 2D plan-sets, there are no assurances that everyone is looking at the design and imagining the space precisely the same way. So, we provide our clients and the whole team with a way to really understand the space.”

Phases

The Pittsford family now has an energetic (and mobile) three year old and a new need to spread out further in their home. They recently reengaged the TiverBuilt team to help design and construct a Buffalo Bills-themed finished basement this fall. 

“Because our circumstances change – and we change as people – it can sometimes feel like a house is never done,” says Prichard-Fox. “Using BIM technology, we’re able to meet our clients where they are and quickly create a plan to put in motion.”


Lake Life: TiverBuilt with Greater Living Architecture

The goal to spend more time relaxing at their summer home on Conesus Lake was the driving force for a young family to engage Greater Living Architecture (greaterliving.com) to help update their house. 

TiverBuilt laser scan technology was used to build the digital model of the space, as well as capture the topography of the construction site. This technology is very helpful when building on inclines or waterfront lots, where there is limited access to the property and neighboring structures can be in close proximity. Greater Living Architecture uses TiverBuilt laser scans to approach home design more holistically. 

“A major benefit of working with TiverBuilt is the ability to share information seamlessly through their utilization of laser scanning and 3D modeling to create a highly accurate model of the existing structure as a basis for our proposed design,” says Roger Langer Jr., commercial partner and registered architect, AIA, of Greater Living Architecture. “Sharing information allowed us to generate the proposed design in a digital environment for full evaluation prior to completing the final construction documents.”


For more information, visit tiverbuilt.com or check out the Inside the Firm: Homeowner’s Edition podcast co-hosted by Prichard-Fox.

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