We’re not just talking about pre-wired computer internet cabling that’s installed during construction. That’s just the beginning. You see, many new homes are now best described as digitally automated. In fact, home automation-which was once reserved for only truly wealthy people, has become much more common-because it is now much more affordable. According to a survey of homebuilders, about 5 percent of all homes built in the US in 2005 have some type of whole-house control system.
These “smart home” features could include a home security system that can be operated by a button or on phone or computer located anywhere in the world; as long as you have internet access or can get a cell phone signal, you can literally take care of your home when you’re thousands of miles-even continents-away. For instance, if someone breaks in, the system will send you a message-along with footage from your security cameras. There are also automated remote control systems that open and close garage doors. Turn the pool pump and outdoor lights on and off. Adjust the thermostat and the water heater. Click lights on and off as someone walks from room to room. Set and re-set the sprinkler system. Activate an MP3 play list from the TV remote. Even control elaborate in-home theatres.
Many home builders and digital home product companies recommend that buyers wire new homes for automation, even if they don’t intend to buy any of the full systems or even any of the individual components right away. That’s because it makes good financial sense; automation can increase a home’s resale value by 3% or more.
A basic automation system, which might include lighting and security, could cost around $2,000. The average amount invested is $6,000. But customers who want to place themselves firmly in the high-tech age generally invest in a system that falls into the $100,000+ range. According to industry leaders, homeowners are the ones driving the market. Those who are interested in automation usually do their homework and research the many possibilities that are out there-before they buy or build a home.
If this all sounds a little “George Jetson” futuristic to you, remember that things like personal computers and cell phones weren’t that common a mere 15 years ago. The world of technology is moving faster and faster. And it’s probably already in a home near you.