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ARCHICAD for the Sole Practitioner: Modelling, Marketing and Making Money

Central Innovation 7 April 2015

DAH Architecture

Sole Practitioner David Hansford started out in Architecture at Hayes Anderson Lynch (HAL) Architects in 2005. During this time, he worked his way up to an Associate Director working on a vast array of projects using ARCHICAD before leaving in 2014 to start his own practice, DAH Architecture.

Image copyright DAH Architecture

The transition from working in teams with specialised roles on projects to doing everything single-handledly from schematic design through to Building Approval has certainly been a change for David. As a result he has had to adjust the way he works and the way he communicates with his clients.“Because most of my clients these days are builders, they already have a good idea of what they want when they come to see me. My philosophy as a sole practitioner is about delivering to my clients what they want in the easiest way possible. I continued using ARCHICAD when I went out on my own because I believe with ARCHICAD I am able to do this quickly and accurately, and because of this they keep coming back.”

Dealing mostly in residential and renovation, David takes on all sorts of jobs with his smallest project being a staircase and his largest an 8-storey apartment block. Regardless of the project, he finds that 3D is the best way to not only model, but also to market his designs.

“Clients are always really impressed with the ARCHICAD models I produce – they think you’ve gone above and beyond – but it’s just the general process of designing in ARCHICAD,” he says. David Hansford, Architect

The added features of BIMx and CineRender available in ARCHICAD have also been a large factor in David’s business, which weren’t as crucial at HAL, where there were dedicated office renderers and external consultants.

“Since I’ve started my own practice, these tools have definitely become a factor to winning jobs. BIMx particularly is a great marketing and communication tool as it gives my clients, who may not fully understand a 2D plan, a better idea of what the finished product is going to look like. The ability for the client to ‘walk through’ and explore the proposed design, in their own time as well as in meetings, helps enhance comprehension and in turn helps me manage my client’s expectations and reduces my risk. That’s why I do a BIMx model for almost every project now.”

David has found that even builders who are used to seeing plans everyday can sometimes find it hard to visualise exactly what the finished product will look like. Being able to see and go through the model means that clients are able to pick out quickly and easily exactly what they do and do not like. With ARCHICAD and BIMx the ability to make changes in perspective view is enormously beneficial. We can make changes on the fly and the client can instantly see the impact this will have on the finished product.

“I had a project which I took over at Building Approval stage. I modelled the DA plan drawings as they currently were into ARCHICAD and imported this into BIMx to show the client, who was also the builder and owner, what the finished product would look like. When he saw the design in BIMx he was very unhappy, and asked me to redo the design. The easy and intuitive design capability of ARCHICAD and the added functionality of BIMx in the end saved him a lot of disappointment, time and money.”

Recently David has also had a project where he had to design a new house to be added to a 2500 sqm site at the Church of Transfiguration in Norman Park, QLD. The design included a tennis court, swimming pool, 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a home office and multiple lounge areas. Because the site itself was heritage listed, both church and the planned new house had to be modelled up for Development Approval.

“ARCHICAD was a massive help in modelling the church with the complex profiling tool, which was very useful given that elements such as spires, columns and fretwork are not standardised in Queensland.”

With the current version of ARCHICAD this tool made it simple to create a 3D model of a site which was very large and complex.

“I don’t even want to think about if I had tried to do this project in 2D. It would have been a lot more work and time, thus a much higher cost for the client.”

Since completing this project so efficiently David has also had a number of referrals and new jobs such as a house and apartment block in the pipeline for this year.

“Working with the structural engineers and other contractors for this project, it couldn’t have been done without 3D modelling and for me this couldn’t be done any easier in any other program.”

For David, saving time is not only through the complex profiling tool, but also through the ability to look through models for faults and issues before the construction stage.

“In ARCHICAD it is easier to see issues and pick up faults in things like clearances and modelling beams. Walking around in fly-through mode, or even just browsing through the model, I find that I pick up on clashes or issues very quickly.”

With the inclusion of CineRender in the latest ARCHICAD, rendering is also something that David can see becoming a big part of his practice, something, that he never had to worry about before.

“Before its inclusion in ARCHICAD, I would use ‘cartoon-like’ 3D images, but now I am able to produce decent renders with relative ease and client response has been very positive,” he says.

“The improvements to ARCHICAD over the last 6 years has definitely simplified the complex task of documenting a building and increased the scope for sole practitioners like myself. Most importantly, the inclusion of many time saving elements and increased capabilities has made for better quality documentation meaning more accurate tenders and less RFI’s on site.”

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David’s Practice, DAH Architecture is located in Toowong, QLD, for more information about his business visit his site


GRAPHISOFT® ignited the BIM revolution in 1984 with ARCHICAD®, the industry first BIM software for architects. GRAPHISOFT continues to lead the industry with innovative solutions such as its revolutionary BIMcloud®, the world’s first real-time BIM collaboration environment, EcoDesigner® STAR, the world’s first fully BIM-integrated “GREEN” design solution and BIMx®, the world’s leading mobile app for BIM visualization. GRAPHISOFT has been a part of the Nemetschek Group since its acquisition in 2007.

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