How To Set Homebuyer Expectations Like The Property Brothers

schmidt hammer lassen architects - 3D Illustration

schmidt hammer lassen architects - 3D Illustration

Architectural renderings have faced their fair share of criticism lately. The public is catching on to the fact that these illustrations can be highly dramatized or idealized - to the point of being completely misleading - and they don’t seem thrilled. An August New York Times article pointed out the juxtaposition between two renderings depicting the same planned development, Brooklyn’s Greenpoint Landing. In one image, sleek, silvery towers compliment the much larger Manhattan skyline across the river. In another, sickly pink buildings that are clearly exaggerated tower over the Manhattan skyline. Surely you can guess which rendering was commissioned by project opponents. 

In Flint, MI, there has been huge backlash over a summer pavilion called “Mark’s House” that opened in August. The design was the result of an international competition, and the rendering was impressive. It depicted an icy-blue building with a mirror-like, almost translucent quality. The design was touted as a “reflection” of hardships the city had experienced. Unfortunately, the real thing doesn’t quite strike the same chord with the people of Flint. It looks more like a giant rock: grey, bulky and not at all reflective. It’s being called a mess and an eyesore. 

Architectural renderings have long been artistic, but, in some cases - and more often lately, it seems - those images are leaning toward unrealistic. 

Photorealistic Illustrations And Renderings

We all want clients, colleagues and the general public to be wowed by our designs. No one pursues architecture to design ugly buildings, after all.

So it’s tempting to soften harsh lines, add light where it’s not possible or leave out things like the ugly billboard behind the building when creating illustrations for the client or to promote the project publicly. In many cases, it’s not necessarily wrong to do this - as long as you don’t go too far. But the recent controversy begs the question: Should we be relying more heavily on the photorealistic illustration?

Photorealistic illustrations, unlike traditional renderings or illustrations, are meant to show a home, building or development just as it will look when construction is complete without exaggeration.

What you see is what you get. These computer-generated images have a photo-like quality, as the name suggests. They’re high definition, and they can show the project’s exterior or interior from multiple angles. The buildings depicted are to scale, and lighting and shading are realistic. The only details that might be embellished are minor things like landscaping and scenery. The person designing your photorealistic illustration might choose not to include the tacky billboard, but he or she won’t add elements that don’t exist or design features that are impossible to pull off. 

Setting Expectations 

As soon as your client sees an illustration or rendering, an expectation has been set. If the final product is anything less impressive than that picture, there are consequences. That’s a client who isn’t likely to hire you again or recommend you to others. Worse yet, that’s a client who might be spreading some negative word-of-mouth.  When you use a photorealistic representation to sell or market a property, you’re selling the truth, even if the illustration itself isn’t worthy of an art museum. If your client seems happy with that design and signs off on it, chances are good that he or she will feel the same way about the home or building after it is constructed. You’ll save yourself the hassle, embarrassment and potential loss of revenue that comes with unhappy customers.