Smart Tech in New Homes: Builders Embrace a Digital Age

Wondering how to work with your builder to create a smart home? Many are already experimenting with smart technologies in their new home offerings.

In the age of technology, everybody wants to get their hands on the latest tech. So how are today’s homebuilders keeping up? By including smart tech in their new homes as soon as they hit the market.

Today, it’s not uncommon to visit a builder and find the following tech in their model homes or sales centers:

  • High performance energy-efficiency systems that work via Wi-Fi,
  • Total home control through a centralized technological hub and
  • Virtual reality tours of homes that haven’t even been built yet.

That’s right, new homes now give you the ability to cut energy costs and control things like your door locks, lighting, thermostats and more with the tap of a finger. Here’s what today’s builders have to say about these smart home features:

Smart Performance

For Raleigh, N.C.-area builder Homes by Dickerson, a smart home is defined not just by its technology, but by its performance as well.

“In our designs, we try to include technology that adds value to the customer,” says Brant Chesson, president at Homes by Dickerson.

Which is why they offer Wi-Fi-enabled HVAC systems that have the capability of sensing the weather outside to control airflow inside the home.

“We build homes that are very tight,” explains Chesson. “Through a Wi-Fi-enabled system, we are able to mechanically control the air that goes in and out of the homes so that on a rainy day, for instance, the thermostat communicates with real-time weather reports to decide not to let the day’s humid air inside the home.”

It’s innovations such as these that led HGTV to choose Homes by Dickerson to build their annual HGTV Smart Home.

“They believe like we do that smart technology is not just audio and visual, but it also depends on the performance of the home,” Chesson says. “We were going to be able to integrate all of these things.”

Homes by Dickerson included some of the following technologies in the HGTV Smart Home:

  • A hidden mirror TV in the master bathroom,
  • A vertical spa system,
  • Remote-controlled skylights,
  • Automatic window shades,
  • Clare Controls mood system and
  • Smart locks and garage door.

Centralized Controls

One of the best things about today’s smart technology is that many can be centralized around one hub, like a smart phone or tablet, for easy control with the tap of a finger.

Homes by Dickerson, for instance, offers such access in their newly built homes through a partnership with the software company Clare Controls. Using their product the Cliq.mini Smart Home Control Hub as a basis for their upgrades, homeowners are able to connect technologies like thermostats, speakers, door locks, garage doors and security cameras to their phones or tablets for easy and secure access.

“As long as your budget allows you to do so, we’re going to help you figure out how to do that,” says Chesson. “If you want us to build a rocket ship in the middle of your home, we’re going to figure out how.”

K. Hovnanian Homes also offers smart tech solutions in some of its Chicago-area communities.

“We decided to include home automation, because eventually it will be the new norm in home construction,” says Greg Heinrich, marketing manager with K. Hovnanian Homes.

To complement this, K. Hovnanian offers a Control4 interface in its Sauganash GlenChristina Court and Northridge Estates communities.

“Control4 allows for access throughout the home to automate lighting, home audio, security, thermostats and more through a smart phone app,” adds Heinrich. “The great thing about this home automation system is that our homeowners can start with a basic package and add on to it years down the road.”

Virtual Reality Tours

While homebuilder Brookfield Residential SoCal also offers smart technology in its new homes — like Apple’s HomeKit — it also offers a smart tech experience before you even step foot in a new home.

“The homebuying process typically involves heavy online searches and in-person visits,” says Rachel Peyton, marketing director for Brookfield Residential. “So we thought, what’s next?”

So, Brookfield Residential launched virtual reality tours in its Rancho Tesoro community in San Marcos, Calif., which allows homebuyers to tour new homes that haven’t yet been built through virtual reality, or VR, headsets.

“By harnessing the power of VR, we hope to build excitement about the community and allow home shoppers to save time by previewing home layouts and features in advance,” says Peyton.

Through virtual reality experiences like these, homebuilders can help prospective buyers “walk” through a home in 365 degrees, preview finish selections and view furniture layouts.

Welcome to the future!

Drew Knight is a freelance writer for Builders Digital Experience (BDX). You can find him online at LinkedIn.

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