Because you house is worth caring about.

Chiswick based tech start-up Chimni is teaming up with a group West London Estate Agents in to trial a new online home management tool that could link homeowners directly into estate agent software and eventually let them control the profile of their home on the major property portals.

The process of managing a home has become increasingly complicated in the digital world and this often comes to a head the moment people try and sell. Chimni aims to help homeowners get ‘sales ready’ and to help them participate in a process that is rapidly digitising. Russell Quirk CEO of eMoov has described Chimni as:

          “the first proper attempt to shift homeowners into the digital age”.

Every year 200k house sales fall through in the UK because the seller can't find the required paperwork. Chimni addresses that by providing templated systems to help the homeowner store and manage key information and documentation. “The agency world is full of digital innovation but most of it is on the agency and supplier side.  This is the first time a system has been produced to help the homeowner get 'sale ready" says Teresa Brewer of participating agent Finlay Brewer.  

The local agents have been recruited to understand how the Chimni Logs can improve the sales process for homeowners.  The agents are investigating how to smooth the process of signing up new homes by helping customers become 'sales ready'.  The long term plan for Chimni is to link the logs directly into the sales software.

Paul Cooney of Horton&Garton says "The Chimni concept has the potential to simplify life for property owners, buyers, solicitors, estate agents... the list goes on.  I run a paperless office and much prefer using secure virtual platforms for communication and document storage.  Its a stroke of genius and we're wholeheartedly behind the project."  

The agents are recruiting customers interested in using a new digital tool to support their sales.  Each homeowner will be given a Chimni Log and get help from Chimni to assemble documentation and records. The agents will share the insight generated by Chimni’s research into how the Chimni Logs are used.  For the first stage of the trial, integration with agency systems will be handled manually, giving the Chimni design team a chance to optimise their plans to integrate.  "Its a great chance to take part in some innovative product research aimed at helping the homeowner navigate the digital chaos that has been created around them" said Nigel Walley of Chimni.

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For Chimni, as well as understanding how consumers want to use the systems, there is the question of how a homeowner’s online logbook can and should integrate with the growing agency CRM software ecosystem, through the sales process.

The Estate Agent trial is part of a wider 'Digital Suburb' initiaitve being run by Chimni in West London close to Chimni HQ in Chiswick.  “We like to joke we are the anti-Shoreditch, the middle-aged guys in the west London suburbs trying to solve problems we have encountered as homeowners,” says Nigel Walley, Chimni Founder and Managing Director.  In the first stage of the Digital Suburb initiative, Chimni worked with local Residents and Civic Groups helping them get online in return for support in building their trial cohort. A later project stage will include a trial with the three Local Authorities to explore how to use the Chimni logs to automate and simplify the Planning and Building Control application process.

 

For more info on the trial please contact:  Nigel Walley This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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From Nigel Walley - Many of you will know that I am a local of many years.  I am Chiswick born and bred and have been running a digital media consultancy just off the High Road for ages. We have now launched a new company called Chimni and I wanted to explain to friends locally why I will be talking about it a lot in the local press and on social media.

Chimni is a tech start-up and we like to joke that its a little slice of Silicon Valley or Shoreditch right here in West London. It’s a group of young coders - and some older types like me - trying to revolutionise how we manage our homes in the digital age.

This idea came out of buying a new house in Chiswick and being confused by all the online services and accounts we had to set up, and by all the people who seemed to have information about my house they didn’t want to share with me. I was also looking for a better solution to store all the documents and certificates I got when we did some refurbishment work. A ‘Chimni log’ was my response.

 

imageofsitetransThe logs are intended to be helpful and good fun and you will hear a lot more from us over the next few months. They are still in prototype form but we have started trialling them with homeowners here in W3, W4 W6 and W12.

We are trying to find 5000 people in the area interested in testing the app for their home. If you are interested in having a look there is a quick video about Chimni here. If you are interested in joining in and setting up a log for your home please drop me a mail (address below) and I will link you to the main site (we are keeping it invite only to stop the loonies crawling all over it).

If you are new to the area, you may get given a log when you buy your home as a group of local estate agents have agreed to set up Chimni logs when they sell a house.  We are really excited by their involvement and there is info on that here. They will use the Chimni logs to manage all the sales documents, certificates and records created during a sale. Its a really cool way to buy and/or sell your home in this digital world.

It would be great if you fancied joining in and setting up a Chimni log for your home. Please drop me a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Communities & Groups

We are also interested in how we and our homes interact with Community & Residents Groups, Utilities and Local Authorities in this increasingly interconnected world. You will read a lot of nonsense in the press about Smart Cities and Cities of the Future. We think this has to start at grass roots with home owners and communities connecting with organisations around them.  Over the last couple of years we have worked with a variety of Residents Associations in the area to help them build their websites and learn how to use social media to connect users. We are adding more this year.

We are now working with them helping to use their sites to run community engagement projects around the area. These include the House History projects you may see them tweeting about (see Strand on the Green's project here and the Stamford Brook project here). We are being helped by a brilliant local company called Fingertips - who help people run their home IT and improve their digital skills.

We are also helping Residents Groups run some fun online projects for kids like 'Building Chiswick In Minecraft' which you can see about here.  Later this year we will be trying to link all these groups - Residents Associations, Utilities, Local Authorities, Estate Agents etc - into a wider project called the 'Digital Suburb'. The plan is to make our little bit of West London the most digitally connected in the UK.

I will tell you more about that project when we have some progress to share.  I understand many of you will not want to experiment in the digital world with your home, and that's perfectly fine.  For those who do, it will be fun to have you join the experiment.

Nigel Walley

January 2018

 

ExampleFantasyWorldChimni's West London Trial Adds A Minecraft Project To The Fun!

'Building Chiswick In Minecraft' -  As part of our Chiswick, West London trial of Chimni, we have been working closely with local Residents Groups and their web sites to help them engage with residents through new digital media.  We are also supporting them in projects that help them engage with young people. Our primary project in the trial area is 'Chiswick in Minecraft'.  This project focusses young minds on the design, planning & construction issues in their local areas by recreating a part of the local area in Minecraft, the online PC game that claims 100M global users.


Minecraft is normally used to create fantasy worlds which include sophisticated landscapes and buildings which players get to construct block by block - like on-screen Lego.  One of the most interesting features of the game is that the game has no specific 'aim'. The players do not have to 'kill' each other or compete to 'win' something. The main concept is to use natural resources to build a shelter, collaboratively interacting with other players.  Even so, around the world, Mums' advice forums are packed with parents complaining their children are addicted to Minecraft. But recently more serious, educational uses have started emerging.  The construction and planning industries in a particular, have started to see the appeal.

ae93e36534 craft your future logo smlIn the UK, the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has created a version of the game called ‘Craft your Future’ (see here for details).  This is a construction game aimed at 12-14 year olds in which students encounter a variety of problems that reflect construction challenges in cities today.  The CIOB said: “Minecraft, like Lego, has the capacity to inspire a new wave of construction professionals in an ever-increasing digital industry”.

The Ordnance Survey (OS), the Government owned, national mapping agency, have also LondonOSMinecraftImage followed suit by creating an online map of the UK in a Minecraft world. This was a project run by young interns at the OS and they have now opened it up to the public by letting anyone have a copy of what they created (See here). They are encouraging software developers to download a copy of their map shown in the picture on the right and experiment with it.  

Now Chimni is aiming to use the OS Minecraft map to widen the educational possibilities even further and to use Minecraft to interest young people in the layout and planning issues in streets and neighbourhoods around Chiswick - our initial 'communities' trial area.

As part of our wider Chimni ‘Smart Suburb’ project, the Chimni team have taken a copy of the OS Minecraft map and used it to build an online version of ‘Chiswick in Minecraft’.  We are opening it up to residents, via links on our local community websites, so that local Minecraft players can access their own street and build copies their own houses.

The project is now live with the Bedford Park Residents Association and the Stamford Brook Residents Group.  Each local community group has been asked to appoint a ‘gatekeeper’ from among the young local residents who know the game. They will be responsible for distributing the access codes and allocating the correct ‘plots of land’ in the online map to the right Resident households.  We are currently recruiting this person for Stamford Brook. They also need to be in charge of making sure their bit of the map is accurate and doesn’t need tidying or changing before letting the residents loose into it.  It is planned that this community activity can be featured on their Personal Statement for University.

MinecraftNormanShawHouseIn its basic form the Chiswick in Minecraft map doesn’t contain houses or other buildings just empty plots on the map where Residents can construct a copy of their own house. But where possible, Chimni have been working with local architects and Minecraft developers to ensure that many of the more common house designs are pre-built in the Minecraft software. Starting with Bedford Park Residents Association and the Stamford Brook Residents, these house designs are being made available to Residents who want to play.  The 6 most frequent houses in these areas are currently being assembled as free download file. Residents will be able to take a copy and drop it onto the plot of 'land' in Minecraft that represents where their house sits in real life.

BPRA Chair Terry Scott said “most of us had to have this explained, but when we showed it to some young players, they snatched it out of our hands”. Over time, Stamford Brook (along with the BPRA and other Residents Associattions) will be working with the local authority planning departments to understand how the Minecraft model can be used in future planning activity.  In the short term we will use the game to let local young people enter competitions such as the CIOBs Minecraft 'House of the Future' competition (see here)

 

Participating groups:

Bedford Park Residents Association:  www.bpra-web.org.uk

Stamford Brook Residents Group:  www.stamfordbrook.org.uk

St Peters Square Residents Association:(Project not yet live)

Strand On the Green Residents Association:  (Project not yet live)

More useful sites :

Ordnance Survey Minecraft: www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/minecraft-map-britain.html

The CIOB 'Craft Your Future' Project: www.ciob.org/minecraft-help-next-generation-build-future

CIOB Minecraft 'Houses of the Future' videos www.youtube.com/HouseOfTheFutureEntries

Minecraft and BIM+ www.bimplus.co.uk/modi5fied-gam5e-add2s-bim-minecraft/

We are very excited to announce that Chimni has been shortlisted for an award run by Estates Gazette.  The inaugural EG 'TechTalk Academy' has been seeking entrants to pitch their proptech businesses to a panel of high-calibre judges for the chance to win up to £150,000 of investment from Pi Labs, one of the pre-eminent global venture capital firms specialising in early stage proptech investment. See here for more details:

https://www.egi.co.uk/news/techtalkacademy/

In 2015 Chimni were part of  the founding group of companies of the BIM4Housing working party.  That year we held workshops and meetings with a wide variety of players in the new housing industry to evaluate the challenges we faced.  The overall finding was that the house building community is having numerous difficulties with the adoption of BIM.  Our new blog here outlines our findings.

 
 
 
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