Canadian Startup Brings Home Renovations to 21st Century

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If innovation is the lifeblood of a business, then renovation is the lifeblood of a home. For homeowners, renovation provides practical benefits as it makes a home more livable and durable. More importantly, renovating a home could enhance its property value.

According to a recent CIBC poll conducted by Nielsen, 42 percent of Canadian homeowners plan to renovate and the average budget is about $17,000 this year. With the budget decreasing by 13% from last year, HGTV’s Scott McGillivray advised homeowners to maximize their returns through investing in bathroom renovations.

That said, bathroom renovations can be challenging, so let me introduce you to a startup called DraftingSPACE. Scott McGillivray, Ty Pennington, all other renovation contractors, renovation TV show junkies, and every homeowner interested in upgrading bathrooms, you really want to pay attention to this.

The Story of DraftingSPACE

DraftingSPACE is co-founded by two entrepreneurs – Beth Nenniger and Laura Austin – they met in 2013 while they were attending the University of Waterloo, studying architecture, and writing code to create their own “parametric design” playground. Nenniger & Austin’s team, which includes local Waterloo engineering talent, has created an online tool that gives literally any homeowner with an access to a computer a fun and interesting way to automatically create multiple customized design options for their next bathroom renovation.

The designs can be viewed as blueprints and 3D renderings on the fly, which makes the visuals as attractive as what you may see on popular renovation TV shows. “Multiple different homeowners have told us that our software is like the magic they’ve seen on Property Brothers and Love it or List it, but in real life,” says Ms. Nenniger proudly.

I was fortunate enough to catch up with Ms. Nenniger and watch her pitch DraftingSPACE at the University of Waterloo’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Toronto alumni reception in April. After her pitch, Nenniger was happy to fill me in on the launch of DraftingSPACE’s renovation contractor partnership strategy, where contractors can license DraftingSPACE’s technology and use it to provide a better design experience to customers. “This tool can help contractors find qualified leads (e.g., homeowners) and enable them to capture more business,” says Veronique Roussel, Lead Business Developer of DraftingSPACE.

Currently, DraftingSPACE is working with Catalyst General Contracting, Erickson Construction Co., and Willis Builders in Canada and the United States. “DraftingSPACE is really helping us to connect with and communicate with more homeowners and engage them proactively,” says Alex Dogum, a creative consultant who works with Willis Builders. Its owner, Matthew Willis, participated in ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition.

Will DraftingSPACE eat architects?

Not literally, of course. But when one thinks about Marc Andreessen’s famous proclamation in 2011: “Software is eating the world“, it is not hard to make a case that DraftingSPACE could eat some of architects’ lunch when its services become more popular. While Ms. Nenniger positions DraftingSPACE as a tool that could allow architects to focus on the fun, creative stuff (which is true when judging the tool as it stands at the moment), the tool also has the potential to act as a disruptive innovation as defined by Clayton Christensen.

Even as it stands right now, arguably, the technology is democratizing the process of bathroom designs for an average homeowner and can make certain “boring work” faster. One can only imagine what DraftingSPACE could achieve as the startup further develops its technology in the coming years and go beyond bathroom renovations.

“DraftingSPACE is architecture for the 99%. For an average homeowner, home renovations can be insanely difficult. Most people just don’t have the time to read up on the building code or learn how to use complex CAD [computer-aided design] software. Our vision is to seamlessly create floor plans and provide every homeowner with a selection of the best design packages, so everyone can create and live in a space that is both functional and beautiful,” says Austin.

Simply put, DraftingSPACE is a web 3.0 company.

Renovate before you sell your home

Home sales rose 2.3% in April compared with March and the average sales price increased by 9.5% annually last month. With the arrival of spring and lowered interest rate, home buying and selling is once again the focal point for many Canadians (and perhaps now many more foreign investors). However, if your home is in need of some renovations to maintain or increase the property value, it may be wise for you to check out DraftingSPACE before you start your next reno project, even if you’re planning to call Mike Holmes and his people.

Watch the DraftingSPACE

For those of you who are renting, check out this Apartmint piece. For those of you who are interested in renovating your home in general but are unsure of where to start, more help from DraftingSPACE is on the way.

Nenninger advises, “Hang in there! More room types are coming soon! So stay tuned!” Bubble or not, renovation is a necessary part of home ownership and DraftingSPACE is poised to become a part of your home ownership life.

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