State-of-the-art goes standard

Smart home tech is increasingly something homebuyers expect, not something they wish for
The homes are built with popular devices like a Ring doorbell, Lutron lights, Amazon Alexa and Sonos systems. (Photo: Monkey Business Images; Dreamstime.com)

With large builders like Lennar and Meritage going all in on smart home tech, it’s only a matter of time before homeowners come to expect state-of-the-art tech as a standard feature.

Meritage’s M.Connected Home Automation Suite includes an advanced thermostat, video doorbell, smart door lock and garage door, lighting controls and weather-sensing irrigation—all as standard features in every home.

Lennar launched its connected-home program in Colorado in Spring 2018. There are three components to the program, according to Frank Walker, division president for Lennar Colorado.

All of Lennar’s homes are Wi-Fi Certified, which means they meet standards set by the Wi-Fi Alliance for interoperability and security.

“This has been a big pain point for buyers,” Walker said. Buyers who opt for resale homes, or new construction that doesn’t take wireless connectivity into account, are left to “retrofit [the home] themselves, which is very difficult to do, or they have to deal with limited functionality of these wireless devices.”

The homes are built with popular devices like a Ring doorbell, Lutron lights, Amazon Alexa and Sonos systems, Walker said.

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“Part of what we do is what’s called ‘Everything Included.’ We think about the things that are going to be important to buyers, and what buyers are asking for, and then we put those things in our homes as standard features,” he said.

For smaller builders who aren’t sure which devices and capabilities are most important to their buyers, Walker suggested a simple solution—just ask.

“Find out what’s most important and try to make sure that you have those products included in the home,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to do everything, but [builders can] option those items.”

Fire safety was the No. 1 smart home technology buyers expected to have in a new home, according to research by BDX and NewHomeSource, but health and comfort were also important. Almost 30% of buyers said a smart thermostat should be standard, and 20% insist on air quality management automation in a new home.

The final component in Lennar’s program goes beyond technical specifications or hardware and focuses on service and client satisfaction.

[Related: Smart speaker adoption slow among homeowners: IHS Markit]

“We teamed up with Amazon for them to come out and do white-glove activation for our homeowners to make sure that they are understanding how to use those products,” Walker explained. Whether homeowners install their own devices or use the ones provided by Lennar, Amazon’s technical staff will meet with the new owner for a 90-minute consultation to make sure devices are connected and talking to each other correctly.

“With the products that we have, most of those products are already live when they move in,” Walker added, “but if there’s anything that they don’t fully understand, or they haven’t used yet, then Amazon will help them turn those things on and pair them with the things that they already have.”

Danielle Andrus

Editor, Colorado Builder Magazine

Danielle Andrus has 198 posts and counting. See all posts by Danielle Andrus

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