Customer Stories

How RBA Architects Won $750K+ in Fees with TestFit

RBA Architects became an early adopter of TestFit and transformed their design process, resulting in over $750k+ fees won with TestFit.

$
750
K
Fees Won with TestFit
7
x
Design Iterations
10
x
Faster in Site Planning
A Story with
Thomas Retnauer​
Thomas Retnauer​
President
at 
RBA Architects
Company Profile

RBA Architects is a residential design firm in Chesapeake, VA with a portfolio spanning from single-family homes to multi-family housing. They were looking for a way to streamline design changes during feasibility studies in order to save on manual work. They became early adopters of TestFit and transformed their design process. TestFit has empowered RBA to shift from a traditional parking-first site planning approach to a more architect-driven, building-first approach, fundamentally revolutionizing their workflow and giving them a competitive edge in the market. The result? Winning over $750k+ in fees with TestFit.

Headquarters:
Chesapeake, VA
Employees:
11
Firm Type:
Architecture

RBA Architects started in the residential sector from the very beginning with the goal to give everybody the opportunity to get quality architectural design. Over the years, their work has expanded with a portfolio of 3,500+ single-family homes to 5,000+ multi-family units to date.

Part of that success, Tom Retnauer, President of RBA Architects said, is due to their ability to be early-adopter to new technology like TestFit that helps them serve their clients with faster and better quality of work.

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10x Faster on Site Planning

Like many architects, RBA was using AutoCAD to lay out buildings and count parking spaces. But they quickly realized that every time a developer client needs to change something to make the deal work, like the unit mix, they would have to redo a lot of manual work.

Screenshots of CAD files from RBA Architects

Before TestFit, the team on average spent about 20-30 hours in AutoCAD to create a site plan for a project including:

  • Sketching out concepts
  • Getting initial client approvals
  • Modeling building blocks for units
  • Trying out 1-2 layout

On top of that, they would need to then model the 3D massing in Revit for an additional 30-40 hours. But with TestFit’s real-time AI configurators, they were able to get it done 10x faster in a matter of 4-6 hours and see the design from 2D to 3D instantly.

TestFit Development Panel with Multi-Family Building
TestFit development panel reacts in real time with design changes

$750K Project Fees Won with TestFit

With a faster feasibility process comes more project wins. To this date, RBA has done close to 100 projects in TestFit.

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1 - Early Design Solutions

One of the biggest competitive advantages is the ability to provide more scope in proposals. For the Scott’s Edge Project below, RBA Architects competed against 2 other teams to determine the viability of a pre-established design including residential, podium parking, and amenity space.


While the other teams provided proposals to generate drawings, RBA used TestFit to evaluate the efficiency of the design right away. There is an easement running through the middle of the site, adding additional challenges in determining feasibility. But RBA was able to quickly propose a 2-building design after evaluating the site with TestFit, giving them a win over other competitors for the project.

TestFit Site plan with an easement running through 2 buildings

2 - Increased ROI for Clients

Using TestFit, RBA is able to generate 7x the number of iterations than they would using AutoCAD. This allows them to maximize site potential to provide their developer clients with the best yield possible.

For a workforce housing project in Hampton, NY, RBA Architects partnered with a developer and Virginia Housing Authority to determine its feasibility. With TestFit’s real-time calculations, RBA was able to create a yield of 83% efficiency while maintaining lot coverage just below the maximum threshold of 227,000 sf.

TestFit model of a workforce housing project by RBA Architects
TestFit 3D view of a workforce housing project in Hampton, NY

3 - Better Client Relationship

TestFit allows project teams to work with clients hand-in-hand during those otherwise unproductive client meetings. RBA uses TestFit to quickly generate potential designs on-the-fly based on clients’ feedback in real time

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This lets architects get back in the driver's seat in the feasibility phase and become that trusted advisors for clients early on.

TestFit aerial view of a townhome development with quantity takeoff

But it doesn’t stop at just meetings with clients. RBA found ways to utilize TestFit to work with city planners to figure out the best solution. In the above project, the team walked through the building in TestFit with the city planners on a call and was able to make live changes and demonstrate how it would all come together.

Site Planning from Inside Out

In a traditional design process, civil engineers would initiate the site design, typically presenting buildings as boxes on a site. But oftentimes, these boxes are unrealistic and abstract representations of the proposed buildings.But with the introduction of TestFit, RBA has radically flipped the site planning process upside down. They’re now looking at 10-15 site solutions through rapid iterations in TestFit where a civil engineer previously would only show 1-2 options on a site plan.

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TestFit 3D model of a multi-family project
Drone shot of a built multi-family building by RBA Architects
Drone shot of a built multi-family building by RBA Architects

This innovative shift in responsibility has led to a completely new way of thinking and better design solution, where creative control is driven primarily by the architect rather than the civil engineer.

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RBA Architects' integration of TestFit into their design process has revolutionized the way they work, enabling rapid iterations, maximizing site potential, and enhancing client relationships.

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