Making Every New Home, a Smart Home

Transitioning the smart home experience from fragmented to fully inclusive

By Gina Nixon

Residential home builders, diligently working to keep up with current housing demands, are also being charged with mounting requests for more in-home connectivity. Spurred by pandemic lockdowns and work-from-home opportunities, the once future-forward trend of smart home living has now become an immediate, coveted reality. Homebuyers are willing to pay significantly more for homes with pre-installed smart home systems which have recently become as essential as doors, windows and countertops. According to Berg Insight, North America is expected to count 78 million smart homes by 2024. 

No longer a “nice-to-have” option, a luxury smart home experience is surprisingly affordable and remarkably uncomplicated. Builders are therefore turning to experts on the cutting edge of consumer trends and technology, who are helping to create a convenient path for smart home integration and connectivity, to meet the needs of every homebuyer, from millennials to boomers. 

Yet, variations in smart home products can also lead to less than streamlined integration. Many technology companies recognized the existing void between disparate smart home solutions and efforts to connect and operate them all–from cinematic lighting and music to doorbells and security systems. Manufacturers of smart home control, lighting and home automation systems are focusing on seamless integration between technologies.

Integrating smart home features as a homebuilder is easier than one would expect, especially when keeping these tips in mind:  

Develop and foster relationships with smart tech providers

Begin identifying technology experts capable of delivering smart home solutions demanded by homebuyers.  Establish a vetting process to narrow the most appealing options featuring a checklist of functions that cater to a holistic smart home experience. Smart tech companies welcome builder collaborations – especially with builders committed to sustainable and energy-efficient development. Mutually beneficial relationships can be forged through exclusivity arrangements, volume sales and bulk buys. 

Expand what you believe about smart home usage

Smart homes are no longer exclusively limited to early adopters. According to Allied Market Research, the smart office market is expected to exceed $90 billion globally by 2030. That nearly triples its 2020 valuation of $31 billion in just a decade. With more people working from home, a trend cemented by the COVID pandemic, the request for separate home offices designed with high-speed Wi-Fi and other smart solutions, is in high demand. 

New Home Trends Institute found that 51% of workers are working from home in 2022, a dramatic increase from 33% before the pandemic. Researchers also outlined consumer preference for the location of those offices: upstairs, separate from the primary bedroom and/or off the back of the house. These preferences shift how a builder may approach home layout and design as well as how the house must be wired to accommodate diverse location preferences with ‘whole home’ wiring. 

Collaborate with customers on smart home options 

Spiking housing demands against a backdrop of supply chain hiccups and rising material and labor costs, have left some builders without the energy to service clientele as they once did. But, homebuyers crave guidance and a degree of hand-holding — whether in the design or finish phase. Discussing smart home options opens the door to deeper understanding of individual homebuyers. 

Will they work from home part or full time? Are they early adopters? Do they love listening to music? Do they prefer lighting that emulates sunrise? Maintaining a stable of smart home options and fully integrated solutions will showcase how aligned builders are with consumer trends. These conversations not only help predict patterns and valuable data points, they also inform future home construction roadmaps.  

Consumers use a vast array of technology options in their everyday lives and therefore now expect that same layer of functionality to exist in their homes. The trick is to ensure seamless integration as how often smart home tech functions are used rests squarely in the hands of homeowners—no two the same—and to avoid innocently leaving money on the table. 

Gina Nixon is the Executive Vice President of Marketing for Thomas James Homes.

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