By Francie Healy

When you join this year’s Renotour, you might be on a boat. You might be at a picnic. Or you might be in your most comfortable chair at home.

A virtual visit means you can “walk through” beautiful real-life renovations wherever you are, not just once but often.

You will have various ways of seeing a local Ottawa renovation ‒ in a “Dollhouse” or 3D view; as a virtual walkthrough; as a floor plan (as if looking down at the entire area from the ceiling); or analytically, with data.

The experience is not only immersive but interactive. With some of the homes (depending on what the renovator has provided), you will be able to select a button to see, for instance, a “before” view or a video of a renovator describing a process. This is because of state-of-the-art technology from Point3D, a “reality capture” company based in Ottawa.

It’s run by a sharp, creative, savvy entrepreneur by the name of Spencer MacPherson, who is in partnership with his brother, Logan MacPherson. Spencer’s background is marketing, public relations, photography and communications. Logan MacPherson’s is business. It’s clearly a winning team.

Spencer started the company almost by fluke, although “fluke” isn’t really the right word when you consider his seemingly uncanny ability to seize an opportunity.

He noticed his landlord, a property manager, had substandard photos on his website. Spencer, with his photographic experience, offered his expertise. Shortly afterwards, the landlord wanted Spencer to create a virtual Google Tour for the properties.

It just so happened that Spencer’s regular boss at an automotive shop wanted to show off a brand new renovation of their showroom in the same way, and Spencer was tasked with making it happen.

Spencer went through list after list online of vendors who would provide the expertise and technology to create the virtual tour.

“But as I went down the list, phone numbers would be dead,” he says. “People would say they were no longer a business. People would answer the phone rudely.”

He started to hear of other people having the same issues. There was no one out there to do the job.

“That’s when it kind of clicked,” he says.

He started to do some research. It took some time, but eventually he found the perfect platform and the equipment he needed. It was being used in the United States for residential real estate.

He took a plunge and bought it.

“And then,” he says, “I just kind of ran with it.”

But he didn’t want to confine his efforts to real estate alone. “I saw it being used for dealerships and museums and art galleries and retail business and all sorts of creative and unique applications,” he explains.

His business took off. Now Point3D has created virtual tours in a wide variety of locations ‒ museums, art galleries, rental units, dealerships, restaurants ‒ all over Ottawa.

Some are community or non-profit places that don’t have the funding for such a thing, so he started “Random Scans of Kindness” and donates his expertise ‒ for example, to Salvation Army’s Bethany Hope Centre, The Yard, an indoor skateboard park, and an exhibit of the international Oceans Plastic Lab.

“It just feels good to give back to our community,” he says. “I think it’s what everyone should be doing.”

Renotour’s proceeds will go to Habitat for Humanity. Spencer’s contribution through his company’s Scans of Kindness program is the donation of a Point3D virtual tour of Ottawa Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which supplies many recycled or reused household items building materials and appliances to the public.

(For more information, see the Point3D website: www.point3d.ca)