Architectural VR/AR 3D Rendering Costs, Rates & 3D Modeling Pricing for Design Firms

architectural AR VR 3d rendering services

This post looks at architectural VR/AR 3D rendering costs, rates, and 3d modeling pricing for design firms. 3D models and renderings are a staple in modern architectural designs and real estate business, used by architects and agents to showcase a building’s exterior, interior, and features. Both static and animated renderings offer a detailed overview of the aesthetic values of a building with the use of photorealistic CGI services, including images and videos. Most agree that CAD technology has changed the face of the architectural industry to a great extent. Thanks to its wide range of sophisticated image manipulation capabilities, it has become possible to design an entire building and create accurate digital visualization of high quality.

Just when it seemed like nothing could triumph over the mesmerizing spectacle of 3D technology in architectural visualization, Virtual Reality came knocking with a promise of superiority. Virtual Reality (VR), in which a digital environment superficially replaces a user’s physical surroundings, is part of emerging immersive technology. Similar to Augmented Reality (AR), it allows for integration between virtual content and the physical environment so that the user may engage or interact with a combination of the two. In an architectural paradigm, the virtual content is the building and everything else it has. It takes time, effort, and money to build such an immersive experience.

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VR 3D rendering costs 

Individuals and small companies often worry about the cost of VR technology in architectural development or a real estate listing process. The concern over price is justifiable because high-quality VR renderings created by established VR 3d rendering firms or experienced freelancers may cost at least $3,000 for a below-average property size

At the lower end of the spectrum, a firm may charge between $2 and $5 per sq. ft. The average size of a single-family house in the United States is slightly more than 2,200 sq. ft. If homeowners choose the lowest price, the rendering still costs $4,400. For an increase in quality, VR visualization will cost a whopping $11,000. When working with startups, homeowners are usually required to provide detailed drawings of the property, as the service often doesn’t include an on-site visit to take pictures and record videos for the VR project.

The project scope, features, and level of interactivity play a factor in determining the price. An immersive VR rendering with customized game-like interactive features playable on any compatible device can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000.

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Who uses VR 3D rendering?

Everyone involved in an architectural project, whether the designer, developer or client, is considered a “user.” Typical users of VR rendering include:

  • Architects. The most frequent users of VR renderings that use the expertise of a 3D architectural visualization company are architects. VR helps them share design ideas and generate constructive feedback from clients, and it communicates their vision of the project comprehensively. When technical drawings are too complicated for clients, VR rendering allows them to understand every detail almost instantly.
  • Property developers. Architectural visualization is an indispensable tool for property developers when they present a project to investors or marketing companies. Realistic visualization provides the groundwork for investors to give quick approval. A comprehensive presentation also helps the marketing company craft the most appropriate strategy to attract buyers.
  • Real estate agents. For those who want to sell houses, the best way to convince potential buyers is to take them for a tour of their properties. If the distance is an obstacle, transforming the physical homes into VR renderings eliminates the issue. Any client from anywhere in the world can access the digital file and take the tour at their convenience.
  • Homeowners. Whether homeowners plan for a renovation or a significant overhaul, VR rendering can show the results when the project is finished. As long as the construction hasn’t started yet, homeowners have limitless options to implement a specific design approach or architectural style to the project. They may need assistance from 3D rendering designers, architects, or other architectural professionals to curb the imagination and make sure the plan is technically (and financially) possible.

Interior and landscape designers can take advantage of VR rendering similarly to architects. An immersive visualization before construction minimizes the chances of mistakes. 

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Presentation tool

Virtual reality in architectural work may seem superficial. There is no physical structure, yet it tries to convince users that all visible objects accurately represent reality. The 3D construction rendering company and the users (architects, homeowners, potential buyers, and real estate agents) must understand that VR is a presentation tool to avoid the wrong expectations. All objects in the rendering may look like real things, but they only exist in a virtual world.


Unlike conventional presentation tools like images and videos, VR aims for lifelike scale and spatiality. The purpose is to make users feel like they are inside an actual building. For a VR rendering to be effective, it must allow users to interact with every object visible on the screen. In this case, an immersive experience means users can open the doors or windows, operate the light switches, and move furniture pieces around. When used as a phase in the design process, the VR artist creates the entire rendering from digital models or a set of architectural drawings before construction begins. 

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Interactivity level in the virtual world subsequently forms user feedback. For example, a user can say whether particular objects can be removed or replaced and whether the architect needs to modify the room layout or color. Since the user “thinks” the building is natural, the feedback is based on a perceived-real experience, which is the most helpful feedback. Architects and designers can make the necessary changes according to clients’ preferences with great confidence. 

Real estate agents may use the same approach, but the rendering is based on pictures or videos of an existing property. Although potential buyers may not be able to ask for significant changes to the design, at least they know how it looks and feels before making the purchase decision.

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Why a virtual tour

A virtual tour is the most effective method to convince a client if the goal is to sell a property or plan a design. A virtual tour allows them to dive deep into every room and explore the exterior in a way that no other type of rendering can deliver. Interactivity is the key. Unlike static 3D model rendering services where users can only see a set of images, VR makes the virtual environment as dynamic as possible, as if the surrounding is physical. The rendering may include interactive sounds to mimic reality and texts to help the user through the tour. 

A virtual tour in a construction project also minimizes the possibility of design miscommunication that could lead to expensive revisions. A client can visit virtually and look at every detail before approval. Some objects in the rendering may not be of high quality due to various constraints. Be that as it may, VR provides the most lifelike walkthrough session compared to conventional 3D renderings. Effective communication between all users makes it easy to discuss ideas. 

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How it is created

Much like traditional 3D renderings, VR is created in a multi-phase process, including:

  • 3D modeling. Based on technical drawings or proposed presentation ideas, the 3D architectural modeling artists either build or purchase the required 3D models for the rendering. If the project involves an entire building and everything inside, it may take hundreds of 3D assets for the exterior, interior, and surroundings. All the furniture pieces, light fixtures, home appliances, and decorations are included.
  • Lighting. Once everything is put together, the artists develop lighting using the same process as photography. The big difference is that VR rendering uses software to configure the amount of illumination that hits every object and in what directions, then reflections and refractions are generated accordingly.
  • Materials. When exposed to light, the walls and objects are visually presented to mimic their physical counterparts in textures and behaviors. Although users cannot touch the surfaces, they can see their shape, pattern, and color.
  • Post-Production. At this point, the computer does most of the work. The render engine starts to compile all the information or images created by the artist into a VR rendering. A single render may take hours or days to complete depending on the file size. Post-production involves final touches to refine small details.

When ready, the user can access the file with a compatible device to experience an immersive architectural tour.

RELATED: How 3D virtual reality rendering is shaping the construction industry

Types of VR renderings

Every VR rendering is essentially a simulation, and the degree of interaction determines its type.

  • Fully immersive. Most people think of VR as a fully immersive virtual tour that requires the user to wear a head-mounted display and specially designed gloves. It is the ideal architectural visualizer service as it gives the user the most realistic experience, often with added sounds. VR headsets offer a wide viewing angle as if the user is in the middle of the surrounding environment. Users feel inside the house when they move an object or turn the light on. Another finger-operated device may be necessary to use the interactive features. 
  • Semi-immersive. The most common example of a semi-immersive VR is a flight simulator. All controls, including knobs and buttons in the cockpit, are real, but the cockpit windows are projector systems to simulate a flight. Some racing games also use the same system. Semi-immersive simulations are mainly used for training and educational purposes. However, using them for a virtual architectural tour is not impossible. Bear in mind that even in a semi-immersive mode, users still perceive that they are in a different reality thanks to the isolated environment.
  • Non-immersive. The most conventional form of VR simulation gives a non-immersive experience. A typical example is a video game. A user is sitting in a physical environment and aware of their physical surroundings, but they are actively engaged in virtual activity. Non-immersive VR has become more advanced now with gesture input instead of buttons.

Due to its widespread use, non-immersive simulation is often forgotten as a type of VR.

RELATED: Virtual tours vs. static renders: which to use for your real estate marketing


The benefits of VR 3d rendering for architecture

The best thing about VR technology in the architectural industry is that users feel like they are either in a completely different place or a building that does not yet exist in real life. It opens many possibilities for architects in the middle of a design plan, real estate agents trying to market properties, and homeowners. Significant benefits of VR rendering include:

  • Accurate Planning. The 3D architectural presentation expert provides a detailed and comprehensive design plan presentation, making the feedback process more straightforward. When an architect proposes a design plan using VR, the client can see what they like or don’t like and whether there is room for improvement. Clients can specify if an element is missing or request color schemes, furniture models, fixtures, etc. A conventional floor plan and 3D renderings give the same benefit, but VR intensifies the quality to a large extent. It also means the architect and client spend less time going back and forth making changes to the design. When revisions are necessary, a render artist can modify everything in the virtual world.
  • Competitive Edge. An architect who uses VR rendering gains a competitive edge against competitors with static or animated 3D renderings, especially when the VR is full or semi-immersive. The architect has to communicate their ideas through visualization because some clients may find it challenging to read blueprints. The best way to help clients understand the concept and how it will transform into reality is by showing them a lifelike design simulation. 

VR rendering replicates real-world scenes with computerized imagery in the architectural industry. Unlike standard 3D renderings, where people see images and videos, 3D architectural VR/AR services allow users to interact with objects in the rendering and to behave naturally inside the virtual world as if they are in a real-world scenario.

How Cad Crowd can assist

At Cad Crowd, we have the privilege of working with hundreds of the best rendering professionals. Regardless of what type of project you have, we can help. Our freelancers have worked on plenty of real estate projects. To find out more, get a free quote today.