Andi Gabb writes, “It is exciting to find a company that has adopted technology in a way that so positively impacts the customer’s experience, with both the product and the service that it provides. To discover one that also combines that achievement with a deep understanding of the human race and an over-riding sense of responsibility for the planet, is humbling. Mandala Custom Homes is such a company.
From the outset, they aimed to reduce the stress in that most stressful of experiences, namely building your own home. By combining the use of design software and a pre-fabrication approach to construction, they have relieved much of the pressure that is typically felt as a result of the myriad of decisions that need to be made, often for the first time, when building a custom home. The experience starts on the Mandala Homes website, where an already wide range of design and pricing options are available. However, the Mandala design process is completely computer-based (using AutoCAD’s Revit), and the designs on the website are merely guidelines. Each home is custom designed around the basic roundhouse shape, with layouts and dimensions per your specifications.
By taking the coordinates of the lot where a customer plans to build, the system can plot the height and angle of the sun the year round for that location. Mandala then size the sun-facing windows and the eaves above them, to ensure that the windows are in shade during the summer months, but receive sunlight into the windows during the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky. So the house stays cooler in the summer but gets heat from the sun in winter months – just one of the design details which contribute towards the “triple bottom line” goal.The combination of 3D modelling and teleconferencing provides the basis of their customer consult approach. Features can be added, changed or removed at will on the model, and the customer has the opportunity to visualize the end result, as well as the convenience of reviewing the design in real-time from the comfort of their internet-connected home. (Mandala’s latest project is a Buddhist temple in Fairbanks, Alaska and the lead designer collaborates with the representative who lives in Taiwan).
Mandala was founded and is run by the president, Lars Chose and and his wife Rachel Ross, vice-president and marketing director. Their vision is “to create a global network of people dedicated to creating a thriving world for our children’s children by building beautiful energy efficient homes that are nourishing for the body, mind and soul.” They have a “triple bottom line” focus – the health of the company, the health of the people and the health of the planet – and simply put, aim to make life more wonderful for everyone they serve. What better goal could there be to exploit technology in the pursuit of?
Once designed, the system spits out the details and the Mandala fabrication centre cuts the lumber to size and makes the components. Every house comes with a design package that is essentially a “how to build your house” user guide. Each component is numbered on the drawings and the number is marked on the component itself. They have effectively created a “house-building by numbers” approach – but have achieved through technology a kind of accelerated customization process. The whole process takes only weeks instead of the months associated with traditional house building.
The next technology focus for Mandala revolves around building more intelligence into their homes. With the addition of a module in the electrical panel, connected to sensors around the house, the owner will be able to manage not only the heating, but such aspects as the quality and movement of air and the levels of radon. Letting the house know when you leave will ensure that lights are not left on unnecessarily or that the security is enabled. And with the right technology in your car, you will likely be able to rely on it to let the house know you are on your way home and expect a warm welcome!
It is one thing to ensure that your IT investment is aligned with your company’s goals. Mandala have taken this notion to another level – in the words of Lars Chose, “Mandala would not exist without technology”. The basis of the Mandala experience is founded in the use of technology and, while it is not without its challenges, you only have to step into a Mandala home to witness their success.
Kootenay InfoTech is sponsored by Mosaic, a boutique consulting firm which specializes in helping small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) maximize the return on their information technology investment.