Sunday, June 5, 2011

Most clients have difficulty visualizing how their remodeled space might feel so Mike Beganyi, a Burlington, Vt.–based designer and consultant, began using a free online program to help him share 3-D models with clients.
In his nearly seven years of presenting work to homeowners via the Web, Beganyi has found that not everyone wants to load a 3-D modeling program, nor do they have the technical know-how to get around in new software. The solution: He exports the model as a 3-D PDF. “Ninety percent of most newer computers have some form of PDF reader installed — which means most folks can open these drawings with basic computer knowledge,” he says.
Beganyi develops a 3-D model of a project by roughing out rooflines, windows, doors, and structural components using AutoCAD and Google SketchUp. SketchUp allows him to shade the model and present the client with what he calls “soft and sketchy” drawings that “take the hard edge off the typical 2-D paper printed plans that most folks have a hard time reading.” To share these models with clients Beganyi uses a plug-in ( with SketchUp to generate the 3-D PDF.
He sends clients instructions so they can wander through their project virtually and usually “walks” with them over the phone. Using a mouse, clients can turn the image to get a sense of what it might be like to move through rooms, and designers can save specific views to a pull-down tab for easy navigation. Design changes can be highlighted or annotated and you can click on areas to take 3-D measurements.
Not only is it “a great way to communicate design intent,” Beganyi says, but “the clearer the picture a client has of the project, the easier it is for them to make an educated decision about the design, costs, and overall process.”

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