A Recap On Our Year To Date & Exciting New Opportunities
A Q1-Q3 Recap:
As far as our day to day at VirtuActive, 2023 has been the most consistent, busy year we have ever had. For the year, our incoming capacity has been running right at 100% and we have been pretty consistent since April with new project onboarding being about 3-4 weeks out. We’d like that to be about 2 weeks as a sweet spot, but the activity has been strong each month with no pullback to date.
One thing we have noticed in the last 3-4 months is that custom homes and remodels have been taking longer to complete than we’ve seen in the past. As we dove into understanding why that is, we’ve seen a shift in the type of projects that have come in. The size of custom homes on average has increased dramatically vs previous years, which shows us that the higher end custom market ($1 million+) has been very strong this year. Interest rates don’t seem to be impacting the higher-end homeowner as much as the mid-end homeowner and that new construction range of $550k-$850k. That market which tends to be semi-custom to custom home has been much slower. Larger custom homes take longer to design and typically for the clients, speed is not the priority. The attention to detail and the design tend to take precedence and the homeowner is not in as much of a rush, leading to completed projects taking longer.
Additionally, we have seen the true volume market pick up for us, but more due to new relationships with volume builders outside of the Nebraska market. The process we’ve worked hard to build out for volume builders with base plans, multiple elevations, and predetermined floor plan options, combined with shortcomings from other drafting firms has led to opportunities to serve these builders. I will touch more on this later.
Lastly, the remodel market has been steady and we’ve seen an increase in activity there as well. With many homeowners having bought or refinanced when interest rates were in the 2%-4% range, we have seen they are more reluctant to leave that interest rate to build new, instead make home improvements to their current homes and/or put money into landscaping and pools.
Volume Builder Opportunities:
Over the last 3 years we have worked diligently on how to best support the volume builder market in addition to our custom home builders. The undertaking in building out the process to support each of these builders is vastly different. Most volume builders work off base plans that may have multiple elevation options as well as predetermined floor plan options. These builders do not allow for any customization outside of what has been predetermined for their homeowners to choose from or that they choose to build. It may not sound like it, but in many ways this process and the organization of these plans, elevations, and options is much more complex than our custom home process.
Over the last 18 months we have formed a strong partnership with Epcon Franchising who now has over 80 builders nationally that have their own developments, use Epcon plans, and whose audience is the 55+ homeowner market. An area many of their franchisees struggled with was finding drafting firms that could build out all the Epcon plans, all the elevations to each of those plans, and all the options to each of those.
Even if they tried, as they scaled the local drafter(s) couldn’t keep up and they would have multiple drafting firms trying to service their drafting all drawing differently and leading to costly errors in the field and delayed timelines on plans. We took on the internal investment of redrawing all of Epcon’s plans, elevations, and options and aligning with Epcon Franchising to serve their franchisees. We then work with each franchisee in their specific market and finalize their unique Epcon plan build outs to their specific local codes and their specific builder preferences. This has been an incredible partnership for Epcon Franchising, the franchisees, and VirtuActive. It has also allowed us to apply this same process to other volume builders we work with.
3D Drafting, Got It. 3D Printing... What?!
With 3D plan drafting/design now becoming the norm in the residential building industry and the expectation of homeowners, newer technologies continue to change the building landscape as we know it.
We recently began working with a builder/developer that is doing 3D printed homes. This technology uses a robot to literally build the walls of the home using concrete. The reduction cost in labor and the energy benefits allow these homes to be sold for less than a traditionally built home and help solve for the many of buyers that have disappeared due to rising land and building costs. These homes are now being built in weeks vs months and entire communities are being built with 3D Printing. I have the pleasure of visiting this builder early next month to see this in action and can’t wait to share what I see with all of you.
RANCHO MIRAGE 3D PRINTED COMMUNITY | PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA:
EAST 17TH ST. 3D PRINTED RESIDENCES | AUSTIN, TX:
3D ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN:
As always we truly appreciate your business, thank you for the pleasure to serve you, and promise to always work to continue to earn your business and provide the best experience possible!