Implementing Vectorworks Architect in a Growing Practice
A Case Study from Grainne O'Keefe Architects
Here at Design Software Solutions, we not only aim to teach the tools of Vectorworks, but encourage and support our customers to make the most of what the software can achieve in a fast moving industry.
David Seccombe (who originally played in a London band shown on MTV in the mid 80‘s!) is one of the Directors of Grainne O’Keefe Architects Ltd which was established in 2003. The firm mainly undertakes residential work, including extensions, loft conversions and new build developments. They enjoy a good reputation in achieving client objectives in terms of design, budgets and functionality, which has resulted in nearly all their work coming through word of mouth referrals.
With the company consistently growing 20% a year, Grainne O’Keefe Architects have continually sought to improve, not only the quality of their drawings, but also the efficiency of their workflows.
In this article, David describes the challenges that he and the team have faced, and how they have overcome them to ensure that they stay on top of their increasing workload:
Says David, "We are responsible for realising our clients’ dreams within the restrictions of budgetary, structural and planning limitations. We are also a business and need to work efficiently, which can be challenging as our clients are not always spatially aware or able to make design decisions, requiring the re-issue of complex architectural drawings.
For 12 years we have sought to improve the quality of our drawings and our efficiency using Vectorworks. It has been a very steep learning curve but we have found the time and budget to make significant improvements which have helped our business grow. We have learned to be patient, to respect the tool, knowing that preparation time, is time well spent.
We began in 2D for several years, a laborious process requiring careful checking of each and every drawing on every drawing issue. Our adventures in 3D were instigated by one of our graduates, who quickly realised you could build a 3D model and use it to create perfect sections, plans and elevations, if you took the time to get it right, up-front. Our progress in 3D has largely been through self-taught modelling, detailing, hatching, and exploiting the many tools the programme has to offer. We have created our own bespoke template and style which suits us as a business, something any business can achieve.
In 2010 we thought this was amazing!
Having worked in a consulting background, I knew we needed help and support; that there was a whole new Vectorworks world out there which we knew little about. I called in Design Software Solutions for a consultancy with us in 2012, and in the space of a day we saw what we needed to see, very much based on our business needs and what we could afford. We have enjoyed both their encouragement and support as well as the team at Computers Unlimited through our VSS contract since. And for several years we continued to develop our unique style.
In 2013 we thought things couldn’t get much better than this...
As our business grew and we took more staff on I realised we needed to insure ourselves against the negative effects of rapid growth, and the easiest way to do that was to invest in become more efficient. To that end I provided a brief to Design Software Solutions and met with Tamsin Slatter to discuss this in 2014. The outcome has been the purchase upgrade of our licences to Architect and the (at the time slightly reticent) purchase of a Renderworks add-on.
The speed, advanced tools, and functionality of Architect has solved many business struggles for us. For example time taken to calculate complex volumetric roof shapes (for Permitted Development) has decreased significantly, and even the lightening-fast PDF creation pays for the upgrade itself! The small but significant benefits like advanced window and door features make the programme a dream to work with. And then there is Renderworks.
I am still a novice and continue to learn, but the ability to create realistic shadow - something we have used successfully to win planning appeals - and make our models look fantastic in minutes has helped us sell our design ideas to our clients. The Purchase of Renderworks has been a revelation. We have entirely stopped using Sketch up to create shadow, a long and manual process which although rewarding was very time consuming.
Over time we have tailored the programme to our needs with the support of DSS and CU and continue to reap the benefits of efficiency and the ability to create work which our clients can both understand and appreciate. We value the programme and have learned that, although challenging for a small business, our investment has and will continue to help our business grow."