If you were the owner of a commercial building in the UK and wanted to find an architect to design some alterations, where would you go to find this information?
If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ll know that this is the sort of question that concerns me greatly. How do clients find good architects?
The first place you might look is the people you already work with, but sometimes they aren’t the best people for the job.
The next place you might look is your peers in the industry, friends in Real Estate who might be able to recommend an alternative. But their expertise is again within your existing network and limited by that. What if they don’t know someone with specialist expertise in low energy buildings, or high security projects, or 19th Century stone facades?
This is where Honest Buildings comes in.
Last year at the BE2 Awards I had the first chance to hear Nick Katz talk about Honest Buildings, and I’m delighted to hear that today they launch their network in the UK.
What is Honest Buildings?
HonestBuildings.com is a real estate network that is already very well established in the United States.
In essence it is a database of every non-domestic building in the US and the UK. People and organisations associated with these buildings can join the network and connect to the buildings as owners, tenants or service providers.
What this means is that architects, for example, who worked on a building can make a project attached to the building which can be found by anyone looking at that building (or for buildings of a particular type, or projects of a particular type, for example).
As a result the site becomes a sort of ‘dating service’ for landlords, tenants and their agents to find expertise based on the credibility shown by the portfolio of work that service providers have on the site.
Existing users of the site include some very big names including
- British Land
- Aviva Investors
- Colliers International
- UK Green Building Council
- Jones Land LaSalle
- Buro Happold
- Henderson Global Investors
And of course many smaller organisations are joining.
Free to Join
When I talked to Honest Buildings CMO Josh Boltuch last week on Skype, I was waiting for the price tag to get your work on Honest Buildings, but I’m delighted to say that its free to join, post up individual profiles, Post up your organisation and even create projects associated with buildings, uploading images and creating keywords to help searchers find you.
The team have thought out a very clever business model that means the only people who pay for using the site are
- People who want to outsource finding a service provider using a bespoke dating service called HB Match, for example building owners looking for an architect and wanting to outsource this job, or
- Service providers who accept a commission as a result of an introduction from HB Match, who only pay a fee for the introduction if the commission goes ahead.
What this means is that the only people paying for Honest Buildings are those who are already making money out of it. I can see that appealing to architects and to busy building owners and FMs.
Open Data on Honest Buildings – including EPCs
Associated with the network of buildings, individuals, organisations and projects, is a wealth of other data that Honest Buildings are collecting and publishing on the site.
Honest Buildings have offices at the Open Data Institute in Shoreditch, and its not a coincidence, the concept of the network is to make building data open. For example, in the US data includes data from the New York Municipal Buildings Energy Intensity database and the San Francisco Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance compliance map.
As one of the first initiatives in open data in the UK, Honest Buildings is working with the BRE to display EPCs (Environmental Performance Certifications) for thousands of BREEAM Certified buildings. Making this data visible online (it goes live today) is an incredible step forward.
Will it be a graveyard? I don’t think so
Every so often when a new social network comes along I’m sceptical that it will get any traction. Why use a new platform when everyone is on the existing ones? When I first heard about Honest Buildings I thought it couldn’t compete with a professional network like Linkedin, but I’ve changed my mind.
Because Honest Buildings is
- Built around buildings not people;
- Focused on the commercial building community; and
- Working to publish building data,
I think it provides something that building owners and tenants will want to access, and that means that architects who want to be found by these customers should be there too.
The above is my cack-handed way of describing it, but I think Honest Buildings has a lot of potential, particularly because it is entirely free to join the network and add content. You can read the FAQ here.
I hope that you’ll find the concept interesting, go and take a look and let me know what you think.