Crowdsourcing: Not Just for Raising Money

Surely by now you’ve heard of crowdsourcing as a way to tap into the collective intelligence of a group of people. Historically, crowdsourcing has primarily been used for financial benefits, like when a group of people decide to collectively invest a larger sum of money into a product or project in order to gain a return on their money. But now crowdsourcing is also being used to take advantage of the collective savvy, and opinion, of the public at large.

This is what the luxury home design company, Surge Homes, has done in order to make sure their design ideas meet the expectations of the future residents of their communities.

The company has taken crowdsourcing to the next level of innovation. They gathered information via interactive discussions online and in-person from nearly 3,500 prospective homebuyers, realtors, architects, and neighbors on designs and floor plans for single-family homes, townhomes, and condominiums. This was surely the best way to meet client expectations instead of imposing the views of the company in every design.

The information received from this crowdsourcing project was used to create interior packages that would reflect the various european-inspired finishes offered at Surge Homes.

Owners Louis Conrad and Ben Lemieux listened to the feedback, positive and negative, from the crowdsourcing project and used it to tweak, refine, and even completely redesign some of their initial plans.

“Over our 26 years in this business, we have learned that we should not assume what people want,” Conrad said.

Wondering what the company found to be popular among the general public surveyed?

  • In one area surrounding Houston, buyers want classic home designs. Originally the company went with a modern-style for townhomes and single-family homes in the area, but survey respondents wanted a more classic look in their homes since the neighborhood has a historic feel.
  • Buyers in other neighborhoods with more recent developments prefer a modern look. Even though homes in that area were initially planned to be very classic, the survey revealed that buyers in these areas preferred more modern designs.
  • Buyers in established neighborhoods want yards in keeping with other properties in the neighborhood. To please buyers in this area, Surge Homes made sure to include larger yards and green spaces for buyers.
  • Some buyers want elevators. Buyers of large, high-end homes wanted elevators. Surge Homes responded by providing the option of an in-home elevator in some projects.

Feedback given in this crowdsourcing project confirmed that it can be difficult to know what buyers want in a home unless you ask them.

“We believe that giving prospective buyers and neighbors the opportunity to share their vision of how the community should be built is the future,” Lemieux said.

This process of using crowdsourcing to design homes and other products may not be unique for long as other companies are starting to take notice of this great approach to meeting customer needs.

In the future, crowdsourcing will likely become part of the norm, rather than a unique way to run a customer preference based business. But for now, Surge Homes is leading the way by using crowdsourcing to satisfy customers in and around Houston.

A Well Cared-for Garden or a Neat Designed Garden? Take a Call!

People try very hard when smartening up their homes in a bid to sell them off. Sprucing up the garden does help- but you might not want to go over the top with it. Granted, buyers do like to have ample outdoor space, but they normally do not enjoy a garden that warrants high maintenance. Yes, they might look flatteringly at your lawns, borders, the hot and dry spots and the trimmed hedges, but the very idea of estimating the maintenance cost and effort will put them off.

Every square metre of your garden is going to add great value to your home. Of course. But, is it good to assume that a house with a garden more compelling to buyers than one without? It depends. Your garden is a feature of your house, however, a very dirty yard, filled with rusting frames, and disused cycles, won’t quite make it. Even the flimsiest of evidence is good enough to create a negative impression on the prospective buyer’s mind, and if a mere look across the garden gives them a wrong impression about maintenance, well, that is that.

This brings up a question: which is the better option- a well designed garden with proper decking, paving and well-positioned hedges or a neat garden that can be further worked on.

Real estate property agents believe that selling a property depends on the value and size of the property, and the buyer’s requirements. According to them, building a garden mainly to help sell a property is an out-of-the-world claim and does not work always. Garden with flamboyant designs might be of some appeal to non-gardening prospective buyers, but such gardens are always looked at as an expensive proposition. And, keen gardeners who are interested in properties with garden also look more favourably at designs that can evolve rather than one-off design work.

Designer gardens often make buyers walk away from the sale, because they are normally caught in two minds- to adapt or demolish. Ripping everything out and starting all over is as expensive an option as turning the current design to their requirements. This is why properties with designer gardens, despite being attractive to buyers, often make them go in pursuit of another suitable property. If you are looking to sell your property, don’t buy the idea of creating an extravagant garden. Think about both gardening-buyers and non-gardening buyers, who have different ideas about the size and design of the house in relation to garden. Some may like huge acreage, whereas some may think about it as a huge turn-off, particularly if it does not include the basic features and interesting gradients.

Of late, the whole thing has become similar to interior decoration, and the odds of your tastes matching with your prospective buyer are quite low. Whether your buyer is fond of gardening or not, spending a lot of money on a design overhaul will certainly turn out to be a poor investment.

It is totally your call- to hire a professional designer and give your garden a designer-ish makeover. is fully equipped to handle all your needs when it comes to Air Conditioning units. is a household name in Phoenix that can send expert technicians to attend to your faulty AC unit.

Garden Fresh – Restoring Your Garden Back to Its Former Glory

If you’re lucky enough to own a garden, the chances are the winter has taken its toll on its appearance. But never fear: March represents an excellent opportunity to get your garden back in shape before the summer starts.

Sweep paths and surfaces

Really, you should be doing this regularly anyway. However, if you’ve neglected the superficial aspects of your garden over the winter, this is an excellent way to kick-start proceedings.

Trim hedges

This is another area of garden maintenance that can get away from you all too easily. The longer it’s left, the harder it gets. Could this be the year you invest in a proper set of hedge trimmers? Buying guides are easily accessible, with a number of manufacturers providing useful information online.

Andrea cutting the hedge, Aug.8/2008

Mulch ado about nothing

Using organic mulch is not only a good way of sprucing up your garden; it can also save weeding, improve the soil and make up for nutrients lost in the rainy season.

Clean and mend

If you’re planning to spend the summer eating outside, then it’s sensible to check the state of your garden furniture. If it’s been left exposed to the elements, some of it may need to be re-oiled, repainted or even replaced. While you’re at it, why not wash that greenhouse glass too?

Get planting

The best time to plant summer salad vegetables is about now, at the start of spring. If you fancy a salad of fresh garden-grown vegetables, it’s time to get going! Take your pick from tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, basil, rocket and parsley.

Water features

It may well be the last thing on your list, but removing the leaves and debris that have accumulated over the winter can be extremely therapeutic. Like a number of the tasks outlined above, it’s a chance to squeeze in a little exercise too.

With these tips in mind, it won’t be long before your garden is back to looking its glorious, elegant best. Then you can sit back and take in the beauty. Just remember to keep on top of the maintenance.

Image by Andrea_44, used under Creative Commons license