Designing your home in seconds: Local software developer uses virtual reality to make dream homes

If you have been through building or remodeling a home, you know how hard it is to visualize what a kitchen or living room will look like from a blueprint. But technology has changed everything, and a Fargo software developer has turned home building into a video game.

Nick Steinbrecher of Steinhaus Studios demonstrates his new virtual home design software. Using VR goggles and controllers, home buyers can make changes to flooring, counters, paint and more in just seconds.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News
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FARGO — One of the biggest headaches of remodeling or building a new home used to be picking out the specifics, like carpet and flooring, but not anymore. Now, it can all be done virtually.

"This is the Oculus Quest 2. This is the VR (virtual reality) headset," said Nick Steinbrecher, owner of Steinhaus Studios .

Steinbrecher is known to his friends as the guy who repairs John Deere tractors or helicopters for the National Guard. But now, he is busy working with Verity Homes to show homebuyers exactly what they can put in or take out of their soon-to-be-built home.

"So, I can see everything just like I would in real life, and it's all 3D because there is 2 lens(es) there," Steinbrecher said.

"(I) want to change these counter tops, maybe I'm not a big fan of this marbling here, and I want to go (with) something a little darker — personally not my taste, but this is an option you can do. (...) You change it just like that, easy as can be, so you can very quickly customize your house, and in less than a minute, you can totally change the appearance of a space," he explained.


So, if a buyer doesn't like the paint, carpet or windows, they are easy to change virtually.

"And like, looking at drawings and looking at 3D renderings and stuff, and just trying to imagine what it's going to look like when it's all put together" can be challenging, he said. "With this, you don't have to imagine, you just do it."

Countertops or flooring can be changed in a second.

Leland Swanson Jr. purchased his second unit in Manhattan's "Billionaire's Row" and the master condo at the top of the RDO Building in downtown Fargo.

"I'm going to be able to grab a cube here, just like this, and then we'll be able to touch it to the floor," Steinbrecher said as he virtually demonstrated. "And as soon as I touch it to the floor, all the flooring changes."

The software also has a measuring tape feature, so buyers know exactly how furniture and accessories will fit and look in their new house. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Soon home buyers will be able to know when sunlight comes into their home on a certain date and time, so they can get that perfect window installed in the perfect place.

It is all done using Steinbrecher's software and virtual reality goggles and controllers. It's like a video game for designing a house.

"To be able to visualize it and make it come to life is something that I think is going to give people a ton (of) peace of mind and alleviate that guess work that they normally would have," said new home specialist Jessica Janu, who is part of the sales team at Verity Homes .

While VR has been around a while, a software package this complete has not. Steinbrecher says this home visualization takes the guesswork out of the high-pressure situation of making a house a home.


Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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