On-Line Home Design

Written by Posted On Sunday, 30 January 2005 16:00

These days practically everything is being done on the Internet. In the real estate industry the Web can be particularly helpful. Most homebuyers use websites to help them find a selection of homes they want to view.

But homeowners have also been turning to sites, such as virtualarchitect.com when they plan to remodel or add on a room addition.

"They have different levels of service…. Somebody can just send in a [question] and they'll just get a real short answer," says Ross Coulter of The Coulter Group.

The Coulter group markets the services of virtualarchitect.com.

"They also have differing levels where you can send in and get a real basic sketch and also you could go all the way to where they can do plans for a project which could be used in some cases for presenting to a building department to get a building permit," Coulter said.

Among the levels are the $199 per project, Get-a-sketch option and the $49 House Assessment. The first provides clients with useful and affordable resources, a series of architectural sketches, including floor plans and exterior elevations, construction cost estimate and one follow-up consultation. Detailed sketches are designed and prepared by a professional architect.

"A good design plan from an architect ensures a successful, more cost-efficient project," explains website founder, Bryan Welty.

"We provide custom, professional designs and assessments so that clients don't have to rely on their contractors or their own ideas," says Welty.

The House Assessment provides clients with a written evaluation of their home. Clients provide photos of their house and within a week an architectural team member provides professional tips on specific ways to improve the home's value and appearance.

The innovative web site is affiliated with Welty & Associates, a traditional, full-service architectural firm in Dallas, Texas.

Last year, Welty introduced Ask the Architect. It's aimed at attracting realtors to pay for the service of a computerized program on their web sites that makes it easy for visitors to get their architecture questions answered.

"Today's competitive real estate market demands that agents provide more value-added services," says Welty.

"Ask the Architect is a premium service that enables agents to accelerate client activity on their websites, improve client loyalty and increase sales," explains Welty.

The idea is that a homebuyer will use the subscribing realtor's site when shopping for homes. For instance if a buyer likes a home but wants to change the entryway, the buyer can then use the Ask the Architect to find out what it would take and cost to remodel.

Questions are answered within two to 24 hours. Higher levels of the service offer the ability to have sketches designed as well. The feature is being sold to Realtors only.

"The real estate industry is quickly going the way of the Internet and anything realtors can do to bolster their online presence and improve client service will facilitate their business," says Cindy Barginear, an agent with Abio AHK Realty, Inc. in Dallas.

For more information visit: www.virtualarchitect.com .

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or phoebe@livefitmagazine.com. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.

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