Project builders often market themselves through display villages, building a series of semi permanent houses in outer city areas as a way to showcase their designs. Consumers in the market have two options: they either physically go out to these villages, which can have up to 50 home options, or they can search online for builders. At the end of the day, whether it’s online or on site, the research comparison functionality for this market is limited and still very manual.
The building sector is one of the slower areas to be digitised, but as technology improves traditional paper and on site approaches to the building process are being replaced with online directories, comparative sites, and virtual reality tours.
Melbourne startup iBuildNew is an online portal where home buyers can source and compare thousands of home designs. It allows consumers to search a range of designs and builders and then compare the metrics of the home including the price, size, dimensions and additional designs.
“What we’re allowing them to do is rather than go to a display village and wander through forty different displays and just being confused, they can do some research online before they go to the display, they can go with a bit of a plan or a list of maybe three or four different designs,” explained Daniel Peterson, CEO of iBuildNew.
Without wasting several weekends going back and forth between display villages, home buyers can use iBuildNew to connect with digital display villages. Consumers can either source and compare houses and builders online or go to on site villages with a bit more focus and research.
A home is the largest investment most people make in their lifetime, therefore research and comparison is crucial to the decision making process. Peterson explained that a year ago there was no way to compare ‘apples’ with ‘apples,’ meaning that searching for home designs lacked complex analysis and refinement tools.
“The average buyer is spending around $350,000 on the home alone, putting aside the land, so it’s a big purchase and it warrants considerable research,” he said.
The iBuildNew portal identifies for home buyers designs based on their location, boundaries, and building zones. Users conduct an initial search and can then start filtering through options based on what things they are looking for in a home, starting with the budget and moving into details like bedrooms, bathrooms, living spaces, carports, amount of stories, and even architectural features and block sizes.
Peterson said he realised that home buyers still want to physically look at designs and spaces, and that’s why iBuildNew works as a preparation for on site viewing and rather competing with Domain or RealEstate.com – the startup works as an initial point of research.
All the digital assets from the builder are available on iBuildNew, from floor plans to images, brochures, videos, walkthroughs and more recently virtual tours. Each home or design can be shortlisted and then compared on a single page. Currently the user can only compare four homes, however Peterson is in the process of increasing that number to 10.
“The four homes they’ve compared will line up side by side, it will give them an overview of all the metrics of the home. They can have a look at the floor plans side by side of the various homes, and then they can start to select the different inclusions that are important to them,” explained Peterson.
iBuildNew also allows users to have live chat that is independent of builders, conducted by former home sales consultants who have experience in homebuilding and can connect home buyers with the right builders.
This service is completely free for consumers. Alternatively for builders there is a subscription model with pricing starting from $900 a month, which increases depending on the type of package. Builders can subscribe to larger packages that enable them to list more designs and gain more reach.
iBuildNew was launched in 2015 and has won support of Australian builders including Metricon, Porter Davis, and Simonds. So far the startup has raised $4 million in capital from one major investor and a series of smaller investors, all undisclosed.
The startup currently has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth and in the coming months Peterson said he is looking to expand into South Australia and then eventually Tasmania, the ACT, and the Northern Territory. Currently operating in the major four states iBuildNew covers around 90 percent of home building activities, with the other states making up a small, yet untapped percentage of homebuilding comparison.
The website is currently catered for project builders and builders who work off standard designs. Going forward into the year Peterson said he wants the site to also have a search directory for people looking to find the right custom builder and a portal for land developers.
“Land developers and people who are looking to buy land will be able to come onto our site for research. Rather than relying on a single builder to go out and find a land package, users will be able to come onto our site and find a block of land that works for them. They will be able to progress the acquisition of both the house and the land through the website.”
Image: Daniel Peterson. Source: Supplied