Established over 10 years ago on Sydney’s northern beaches, Rapid Plans provides building design and architectural drafting services primarily to residential projects.
“About 70 per cent of our work would be medium to large alterations and additions, refurbishment of existing dwellings, creation of second stories and new living areas, decks and al fresco entertaining areas connecting to pools and that type of thing,” explains Rapid Plans Director Gregg Barr-Jones. “The other 20 per cent is new dwellings plus a small amount of commercial work.”
Originally a builder, now an architectural technologist and student town planner, Gregg saw an opportunity to move into the drafting and design space when he realised that his clients were struggling to find design consultants and architects at an affordable rate. So he went back to TAFE to undertake an architectural diploma, which is where his teacher introduced him to ARCHICAD. “I did have a short stint on AutoCAD for a year or so when I started on the design side,” Gregg remembers, “but then I started on ARCHICAD 10 which I used for two of the three years I was in TAFE, and I’ve stayed with it ever since.”
When establishing Rapid Plans, Gregg structured the business with minimal permanent staff, instead focusing on developing ongoing relationships with contractors – a setup designed to provide both cost-effectiveness and flexibility. His commitment to utilising ARCHICAD led him to Central Innovation and its ARCHICAD Select technical support seminars, and initiated a solid relationship which continues to this day.
“We utilise ARCHICAD for all our design, conceptual work and client liaison,” Gregg says. “I’ve got a big TV screen in the office where I airplay the 3D ARCHICAD model onto the screen – we’ll go through the plans with the client, then bring the model up so they can get a really good understanding of the concept. Once they see a 3D representation of how everything will look, it takes away any confusion and really paints the picture for them. This is a huge benefit because it then becomes a case of ‘what you see is what you get’.”
Currently in the process of upgrading from ARCHICAD 18 to 22, Gregg describes the latest iteration as “a really good step forward”, adding: “Of course there are some new elements that initially seem a little complicated and take a bit of time to get your head around, but the feedback I’ve heard from peers is that once you get it set up it saves a lot of time.
“Having said that, Central Innovation’s tech support is very good and although I haven’t had to engage with them too much lately, I know we will have a mountain of questions as we convert over to 22! But with Central Innovation I don’t have to worry – it’s a quick turnaround to get the answers you need.”
The size of the Rapid Plans team fluctuates depending on workload, but generally consists of a minimum of four at any one time. Gregg sends them along to Central Innovation’s tech support seminars to ensure they’re up to date with the latest ARCHICAD developments.
“We send people over to Central Innovation on a regular basis as they need to learn the latest – three of us have undertaken the update training just this week. Obviously, there’s a lot to absorb each time, but I find it’s a great way of introducing the team to the new functions and getting an overview of what has changed and evolved in the system. Then we go back to the office to road test it and keep Central Innovation’s tech team on their toes in helping us out.”
Gregg’s long term relationship with Central Innovation’s sales support team is one that continues to stand the test of time. “They’re very proactive – they’ll take your call straight away, or get right back to you when they’re busy,” he affirms.
“Attention to the customer is always really really good. I’ve got account managers who are dealing with existing customers and we do tend to find ourselves falling back on Central Innovation when we need to respond to certain queries – they’re straight shooters, they’ll tell you how it is and look after you.”
Gregg himself continues to be a tireless advocate for the benefits of using ARCHICAD. “I’ve kind of been spruiking it myself over the years – I recommend it to all my peers in building design. Of course I’ve used some other products – I’ve touched on Revit, I’ve used AutoCAD and had a bit of a dabble with SketchUp and things like that, but really nothing comes close to ARCHICAD. When people ask me what the difference is, I tell them it’s high end – it’s the Rolls-Royce of architectural programs in my eyes.”