The smart-home technology craze began years ago in some parts of the country, but in many other areas, it’s only just begun.
If you’re just entering this market, or have yet to do so because you think you don’t have the know-how, fear not – you don’t need to be a technology specialist. But you should become familiar with what’s trending and how you can address your clients’ needs before they go to another builder.
Product developers are constantly churning out new gizmos, like the thousands that were displayed at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. But only a small number are actually embraced by the general public.
Get a feel for what’s really trending
During an education session at this year’s International Builders’ Show, Greg Haupert, the executive director of Business Networking International and a home-technology integration specialist, listed several smart-home trends that have truly started to take root, including:
Contemporary comfort with automated thermostats, lighting and security systems that quickly learn the owner’s preferences and can be controlled and monitored from anywhere in the world.
High-tech appliances like refrigerators with internal cameras that allow the owner to remotely check its contents, and an automated compressor that adjusts its speed according to how much food is inside.
Smart TVs – not simply those that run apps like Netflix and Hulu, but rather, TVs that are integrated to create a smart-home hub through which many, if not all of the home’s smart features can be controlled.
Many other experts at IBS recommended several more design trends and innovative products builders should consider.
Team up with an expert
Once you know what’s hot among consumers, but don’t feel confident enough to market yourself as a smart-home specialist, Haupert suggests partnering with one.
It’s okay to admit you don’t have all the technology answers as long as you partner with or employ someone who does, and who can comfortably interact with the client.
“Having a smart-home technology expert that you can rely on and consult with for certain projects will help boost your business and reputation,” Haupert said. “Don’t assume that [a tech specialist’s] only goal is to up-sell the client. When you find a trustworthy partner whom you can work with consistently, that will better enable you to meet your clients’ needs.”
Furthermore, he suggests working with contractors who can offer service contracts to the client. This will reduce your liability if (or rather, when) issues arise.
But before you get too far down the road with a client, it’s critical to develop a technology plan as early as possible. Custom A/V and smart-home technology is best integrated when planned for well in advance. Pre-wiring a new home can save the client thousands down the road.
Haupert strongly advises that builders find out which pieces of technology the client wants and how they want to use them in their home. From there, go through the floor plan room by room and ask how they might want to use the technology in each space.
NAHB has several educational opportunities for industry professionals who want to learn more about integrating design and technology. Go to nahb.org for additional info.