The 2024 Virtual Concept Home by Livabl is the latest project from Zonda Home and is a partnership with some of the biggest names in building, architecture, design, and home products. This unique virtual project will be shared with the public for the first time at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC).
The home is about living your best life – today. The industry’s top thinkers and most prominent builders are creating a virtual home ready for its debut, complete with the up-to-the-minute innovations that make the new home industry adaptable to rapid change.
This unprecedented collaboration is taking into consideration seismic market shifts, lessons learned during the pandemic, and changes to family living to create the ultimate North American home.
We spoke to some of the people involved with the project, including Karyn Bonder, Zonda Home’s vice president of business development builder sales and marketing, Steven Dewan, an architect, and principal at Bassenian Lagoni, and John Marchionda, the vice-president of marketing for JELD-WEN.
Here’s Karyn Bonder of Zonda Home with an overview of what to expect from the Virtual Concept Home:
What is the Virtual Concept Home?
The virtual concept home is a home that grows with you, and it’s not a 7,000-square-foot home of the future with bells and whistles that most consumers can’t afford or access. Instead, it’s a home with a lot of flex space. It’s roughly 2,300 square feet, but it can get a little smaller or bigger depending on what the buyer profile needs. It’s no longer about a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home. Instead, it’s more about a primary bedroom, a primary bathroom, and then eight to 12 flex spaces. Those areas range from a nursery, retreat, secondary bedroom, game room, or home office. This home has a lot of flex space for today’s buyer’s needs.
Why did Livabl and Zonda Home decide to create the Virtual Concept Home?
I think what became apparent after the pandemic was how differently people lived in their homes. You work from home, your children are home-schooled, entertain differently, and interact with your neighbors differently. One of the many benefits of new construction is the ability to evolve and adapt. Zonda advocates for residential new construction, and it made sense for us to pull together key builders, architects, designers, landscapers, and sponsors. So, we put our brains together and thought about what we would want out of today’s home, given everything we had learned over the last few years.
What has been the reaction from those involved?
There’s been a lot of excitement. Once we sat down and did our brainstorming session, we had several interactive workshops. So, we heard from everybody — we got the builders’ and sponsors’ perspectives — and we learned how products are used differently. Then we started putting up the ideas and seeing the similarities and cross-collaboration. It began to build that excitement, and it was clear we were on to something special. When projects like a futuristic home come about, it’s nice to dream, but I think it’s a different type of excitement. In the case of the Virtual Concept Home, we could see this as something today’s buyer could really use right now and long into the future.
The expectations must be high for everyone involved with the project?
We wanted to make sure that the products included in the home are desirable without being unattainable. So, the sponsors we selected have a wide variety of options for the consumer. We wanted to make sure that it still looks modern and attractive. It needs to meet the buyer’s needs and making a bold statement like “a home that grows with you” that’s future-proofing a floor plan. And I think we were able to achieve that
Why is Zonda choosing this route as opposed to traditional concept homes like those they’ve done in the past?
One of the most exciting parts is the cost savings for the builders, the time savings, and the technology involved with bringing these structures to life so they can have that experience of a traditional frame. You can walk through it without having to build the home physically. And so, we can show structural options with literally just the click of a button. You can click a second level or a whole second story. You can toggle it on and off and see how that affects the elevation, the stairway, and the windows, which you cannot do when you build a home in the field. Especially in today’s landscape and today’s environment, you need to keep those costs down. You must save time and make decisions faster and with the same confidence as having the home out in the field, but also being able to deliver a very desirable product to the consumer. So really, nothing gets lost. You have everything to gain from going down this path.
Compared to a traditional home, is there a benefit in showing a virtual home to a broader audience?
You don’t all have to be in the same place when you show up virtually. You can tune in from a computer anywhere and walk through the home virtually with the gaming engine that Zonda Virtual uses. You’ll tour the house, zoom in and see detail everywhere. You can even take Google Earth images and drop them right where the home would be built, right on the home site. The possibilities are endless.
Can you tell us a bit about the technology that makes this possible?
Zonda Virtual offers everything from photorealistic renderings to interactive site maps and floor plans. We can take that technology and weave it together so that not only is it used for a virtual frame walk with the gaming engine, but you can also use all those pieces to promote the community. The assets live from the concept of the home up until the closing of the community. We’re making the cost savings and investment stretch as far as possible for the builder. The technology is cloud-based, making it shareable and accessible for the salesperson to tour a consumer who might be halfway around the world. Maybe they’re in the military and relocating. So, it’s a friendly technology to use from start to finish.
What are the differences between an attainable virtual home and a futuristic one?
Futuristic homes tend to have the latest and most extraordinary products you would want in your home that aren’t available to consumers, let alone the average buyer. Maybe this is something down the line the buyer could aspire to have. But it’s typically out of reach for most people, and they tend to be much larger square footage. There’s a lot of wow factor, which is great. It’s fun to walk through these houses and dream about what’s possible. But the attainable and aspirational home we’re building is about having the latest and the greatest, but also that the average consumer can obtain today.
Were there any ideas left on the cutting room floor for the sake of practicality?
You can quickly put everybody’s ideas on the table and blow this out to massive proportions. But we wanted to ensure that we stayed within the proper square footage. I think we were able to build on that with different structural options. So, we didn’t have to leave much on the cutting room floor. We wanted to ensure that the base we offered met the needs of most consumers today. Then, afterward, if buyers wanted to add to it, they could do so with our sponsor products. They have a comprehensive line of different product types.
Here’s Steven Dewan from Bassenian Lagoni with his thoughts on current innovations:
What sorts of innovations are happening right now that you find interesting?
The key driver right now is density, and our approach is delivering to the client and their buyers “density with dignity.” We need to find ways to give people homes with greater livability and privacy in a smaller footprint. Covid has piqued people’s interest in how they fit in their community and how they can interact in new ways. For example, in my community, people primarily used their backyards, but now they’re putting chairs and firepits in their front yards.
Here’s John Marchionda from JELD-WEN about the relevance of the Virtual Concept Home:
Why do you think ideas like the Virtual Concept Home are important for companies like JELD-WEN?
I’ve been in this industry for a year and a half now with JELD-WEN. So I’ve had experience with this type of collaboration and leveraging of technology in other industries. But, still, it’ll be my first time within the building industry that I’ve been involved with something like the Livabl project. There are several reasons why the Virtual Concept Home is so important because, as manufacturers, we’re one of those links in the ecosystem. In addition, we have a lot of stakeholders that we partner with, such as builders and architects. So, being involved assures us that we’re at the same pace from a technology perspective to enable virtual home construction.
The home was shared privately at the Builder 100 conference earlier this month, and publicly revealed at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference (PCBC) today in Anaheim, Calif. Attendees can experience a virtual reality tour at the Livabl booth (#403) and see a live demo and hear about the exciting process from our partners during presentations at the Zonda innovation stage on the second floor at 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on both May 24 and 25.