How Smart Can the ‘Smart Home’ Be?

smart homeWhen it comes to smart homes and the growing number of apps and products to support them, many traditional builders remain apprehensive about the market.

But tech-savvy design and marketing experts say it’s not good to sit on the sidelines until the dust settles. Builders should at least dip their toes in the smart-home water, even if they start small.

Fresh from seeing the latest innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show, Tim Costello and Melissa Morman of Builder HomeSite and Builders Design Experience (BDX), shared what they found and what it means for home builders and remodelers during an education session at the 2018 International Builders’ Show.

“The tipping point is when there is more risk to not doing something than to doing something and doing it wrong,” said Costello. At this point, “inaction is a greater risk than action.”

  • Consolidation. While a growing number of manufacturers continue to churn out new “smart” ways to operate their products — from curtains and window shades to door locks, kitchen appliances and HVAC systems — there also is a movement to consolidate the universe of platforms on which they run: Apple, Google Home, and Amazon’s Alexa. Builders should see systems continue to work toward a more seamless connection and make it easier to recommend suites of products for their clients.
  • Virtual Reality. it’s a given that most buyers have great difficulty visualizing what a home will look like based on a floor plan or set of blueprints. Virtual realty home modeling means these buyers can put on a pair of goggles and see for themselves in an assortment of elevations and furnishing styles, and giant high-resolution monitors the size of an entire wall will immerse the consumers in a full-size rendering of what their future kitchen could look like.
  • Drones and Robots. Costello expects robots to play a larger role in home construction in the next 18 months, especially as more builders become aware of the advantages of modular and systems-built construction. And drones, now commonly used to take marketing videos for many developers, can be increasingly used to chart the topography on a site for sale, helping builders make better land acquisition decisions.

No matter what the technology, builders need to understand their clear advantage when it comes to marketing smart homes.

“Fundamentally, builders compete with used homes,” Costello said. When you introduce smart home technology into an existing home, problems are bound to crop up. “You can’t get a WiFi signal in every room, you have to retrofit the wiring,” making the idea of creating an “internet of things” or connected home appliances and systems just an overgrown DIY project for the consumer.

“We don’t need 12 Alexas dripping their cords all over the interior design,” he said. “We need to make [home technology] impossible to replicate in a used home.”

Attendees with a paid full registration to IBS also get a complimentary 1-year subscription to IBS Education on Demand and can download a recording and handouts to Best in Show: The Latest Trends for Housing from the Consumer Electronics Show and other sessions. Visit BuildersShow.com/ondemand to learn more.

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