“The big software trend that we foresee is the shift to BIM where one uses the drawing as a database for the entire life cycle of the building project,” says John Jones, vice president, SoftPlan Systems. “BIM will greatly reduce the loss of information that can occur when a project shifts hands from say the designer to the contractor. This will in turn produce greater cost savings for all members of the project and reduction in time to complete the construction project.
“We have been watching this trend closely for several years and work every day to address this among other trends and incorporate it into our software to produce a more sophisticated product,” says Jones.
SoftPlan Version 14 contains top drawing features including selection set capabilities that allow users to pick multiple items prior to executing a single command and pasting from applications such as Word and Excel to be added directly to the SoftPlan drawing. SoftPlan’s 3-D capabilities have increased to include the addition of the artistic rendering modes, sketched and illustrated, and textured real-time renderings. The estimating portion of SoftPlan includes a new visual estimating tool where items on the materials list are connected visually to their corresponding items on the drawing. QuickBooks estimates and purchase orders can be created directly within SoftPlan, as well as real-time price maintenance.
Mining the Channels
“Home building is not a one-size-fits-all market,” says Tim Debelius, marketing manager for software tools and e-business for iLevel by Weyerhaeuser. “Builders are looking for manufacturers and dealers who offer not only quality products, but also software solutions and services that meet a wide range of performance and value expectations. Builders are seeking software solutions for constructing entry-level homes, mid-level homes, and high-end custom homes, as well as better ways to improve existing homes.
“iLevel is building support with contractors by offering software that makes the framing design and construction process simpler, faster and more cost-effective,” says Debelius. “For example, our Javelin design software provides the flexibility to make changes to the structural frame on the fly. Designers can show builders the frame from any angle. It can also help builders gain green building credits by using stud alignment and advanced framing methods.”
iLevel Javelin design software version 3.19 includes user-requested features such as flexibility to make changes on the fly and better load tracking through the entire frame. Building material dealers improve their work flow and gain a competitive advantage by helping each home builder put the right material in the right place. In a virtual walkthrough, builders can save time and money by anticipating problems before framing begins.
“Clients are qualified more quickly with a software that shows them what rooms will look like,” says Christian Dubuc, vice president of product management for 20-20 Technologies. “It allows them to choose their options virtually, but more importantly, allows them to see what their completed project will look like before work has even begun.”
Product manufacturers Miele and Kohler both have extensive product catalogs available on 20-20’s software. Electronic catalogs included in 20-20 Design provide manufacturer information and options associated with cabinets, appliances, plumbing, flooring, lighting and accessories. 20-20 also offers a unique proprietary end-to-end solution, integrating the entire breadth of functions in interior design through one platform. It provides a bridge between data communication from a point-of-sale to manufacturing and world-leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, including computer-aided engineering and plant floor automation software.
“Our software helps professionals — from designers and architects to home builders and remodelers — deliver photo quality 3-D images to their clients of what rooms inside their homes will look like with true representation of products, like appliances, thanks to thousands of industry manufacturer catalogs,” says Dubuc.