The Benefits and Costs of Virtual Reality In Construction

By: Toby Cox - Guest Contributor on August 24, 2023

Virtual reality (VR) software presents possibilities for many different industries, including construction: What if clients could walk through their dream home before it's actually built? What if your clients, employees, and contractors could see the finished product and this ensures a shared vision? What if your employees could prepare for potential risks before ever stepping foot on the job site?

As a business or tech leader of small scale construction firms, you know that adopting technology can make you more competitive and add value to your business. Perhaps you’re looking into VR. But before you invest in this technology, you’ll want to know the benefits and potential use cases of VR, as well as its costs.

What is VR?

VR refers to the digital simulation of an environment. And with specific equipment—usually goggles or a headset—you and your clients can interact with the virtual environment in a way that feels “real.”

How is virtual reality being used in construction?

There are multiple use cases for virtual reality (VR) in different stages of the construction process. VR’s immersive qualities make it especially useful for pitching designs to clients, collaborating with stakeholders (including clients and contractors), increasing client involvement, and ensuring job site safety through immersive safety training. 

What are the benefits of using VR in construction?

VR offers construction firms like yours many benefits both now and in the future as the technology develops. 

But don’t just take our word for it: We consulted with business owners who specialize in general contracting, construction, and design for their input as well.

Benefit #1: Enable collaboration on a shared vision

When working with clients, construction companies use VR to create digital, immersive walkthroughs of the building project design. This allows clients to experience the design and make changes, while also allowing you to build trust with them. They’ll leave the meeting knowing you share their vision for the construction plan. 

Expert insights

Ben Esman [1], a general contractor, landscaper, and founder of My Backyard Life, recalls a project constructing a multi-story residential complex. He and his team used VR to present a “life-like model” of the building and take clients on a virtual tour of the design. 

During the tour, the clients were able to see the design and suggest changes to the interior layout, which Esman and his team were able to incorporate into the design.

“This gave clients an unambiguous understanding of what to expect. It's experiences like these that underscore the power of VR.”

Ben Esman

Founder of My Backyard Life

Benefit #2: Improve quality of safety programs

There are many potential risks associated with any job site, and VR simulations can help construction workers practice identifying these risks, safety protocols, and risk mitigation techniques. 

This can help construction professionals feel prepared and aware before stepping foot on the job site and can reduce on-site accidents.

Expert insights

Philip Oloo [2], an architectural design expert and founder of SPACIALISTS, offers an example of this use case of VR in construction. 

Imagine: You need to set up scaffolding to paint or repair a side of a damaged wall that’s on the fifth floor of the building. VR can help workers visualize how to install the scaffolding securely and identify any “hot spots” or “red zones,” which are the parts of construction that present the highest risk of injury.

“VR can help people see those parts of the site that are risky, and then they can work safely on and off on the construction site."

Philip Oloo


Benefit #3: Reduce risk of rework and misunderstandings 

In the construction process, misunderstandings and miscommunications often lead to rework, which costs time, money, and additional materials. VR can help avoid this. 

By giving every stakeholder the same immersive experience you provide to clients, you help them understand the vision of the final product and client expectations.

Expert insights

Gavin MacRae [3], owner of GJ MacRae Foundation Repair, says VR improves communication, especially in the planning phase of the construction process. 

MacRae uses VR to create immersive walkthroughs of designs, which allows everyone to visualize the final product before starting construction and employees to understand their role in the construction project.

“VR also saves time and resources by identifying design flaws early on, avoiding rework, and facilitating effective project management."

Gavin MacRae

Owner of GJ MacRae Foundation Repair

Benefit #4: Make more informed decisions 

VR simulations allow detailed views of the project design. With all stakeholders able to see the finished product before it’s built, you and your clients can make more informed decisions about the design, materials, and other details.

Expert insights

By using VR, Tom Nolan [4], founder of AllStar Home and residential construction expert, helps clients visualize what their new home will look like and get excited for the home-building process, which can be notoriously stressful.

Nolan says it can also help make decision-making much easier. Clients can choose the finishing touches of their homes, such as siding, paint colors, and cabinets, and see what they look like before anything is actually ordered. 

VR takes away some of the uncertainty and anxiety surrounding building a home, especially for first-time home builders.

“People who are choosing to build a home might have trouble seeing what’s in store for them—especially if they only have printed diagrams and a grassy lot to visit."

Tom Nolan

Founder of AllStar Home

What are the costs of using VR in construction?

Like with any new technology, the costs of virtual reality extend beyond the price of the technology itself: There are additional costs associated with implementation and employee training. 

Before investing in VR in construction, consider your budget and all potential costs, including: 

  1. Cost of the technology itself: How much does the tool cost? Is it a one-time fee or a recurring fee? Does it have all of the features you need, or will the features you need cost extra? 

  2. Cost of implementation: Are there set-up fees? Will the immersive technology vendor help integrate the platform with your existing tech stack, or will they charge extra? Will you need to invest in additional hardware or equipment to support VR (e.g., virtual reality glasses or goggles, or VR headsets)? 

  3. Cost of training employees: How many employees will be trained in how to use this technology? How much time are you setting aside for VR training? When do you plan to start introducing this new technology to clients? 

But in order for it to be successful, the tool needs to be properly integrated with your existing construction software, and employees must know how to use it. Before making an investment, carefully weigh your options, consider your business needs, and consider your budget.

“It is vital to remember that VR, while groundbreaking, is merely a tool. And a tool is only as good as the hands that wield it.”

Ben Esman

Consider what VR can offer your construction firm, and make an informed decision

The right VR platform can enhance your construction process and deliver better project outcomes for all stakeholders: clients, contractors, and workers. When these stakeholders are aligned on project goals and vision—meaning clients are happy, collaborators are informed, and workers are safe—that sets your project up for success.

And it sets you apart from your competition, cementing your reputation as a trustworthy construction partner.


  1. Ben Esman, LinkedIn

  2. Philip Oloo, LinkedIn

  3. Gavin MacRae, LinkedIn 

  4. Tom Nolan, About Me page