I recently sat on a panel focusing on wired communities. We discussed factors to consider when starting a build-to-suit or speculative residence in a community that has design guidelines on wiring and technology for every new home. And believe me, developers’ mandates that are already out of the gate are going to grow in the very near future. This is a trend that is here to stay as developers align themselves with utility providers to capture additional income streams on items such as security monitoring and high-speed Internet access.
The biggest issue facing design/build professionals is understanding the additional costs associated with designing and building wired communities. The biggest benefit is that every design/builder in the project is encountering the requirements, and have to adjust their pricing, which means it will not affect your competitiveness. In fact, if you embrace new home technology and plan for the future, you will have a better opportunity to become a leading builder in any wired community.
The best way to get involved with wired communities is to promote the benefits to all of your clients, and especially your potential clients. Following are some of the lifestyle amenities of a wired community:
- Community networks. This allows password-protected contact among the homeowners’ association, the developer and every homeowner. This enhances communication and creates a social fabric within the community, alerts residents when roads are being resurfaced and also reduces homeowner association fees.
- Content. The infrastructure that is laid throughout a wired community development comes with a comprehensive guide on how to wire the homes on the inside to take advantage of all the features available. Whether it is using HDTV, high-speed Internet, nanny cameras or on-demand media, the backbone will be in place to add any of these items at any time.
- As a builder. If you are able to design and build a model or spec in these communities and showcase the technology you provide, you will have a tremendous market differentiator to separate yourself from your competition. It is easier to show a potential client the benefits rather than discuss it in abstract terms or on paper.
- E-commerce. These communities usually have a variety of functions for the end user, including bulletin boards, online calendars that make available all the community forms, resident directories, surveys to improve quality of life, concierge service, and restaurant, spa or tee-time reservations. These sorts of conveniences create a better place to live.
Working in wired communities is a process that demands you have a technology partner who can work within the design guidelines and be consistent with the hardware that is supported in the project. Your technology partner should be able to educate your buyers on the overall potential of their residences before you even start the design process. This partnership will create additional revenue streams for you as the designer or builder and will, more importantly, stop your clients from ever saying, “If I knew I could do this, I would have!”
Working in a wired community with clients who embrace technology will allow you to not only start with a clean slate on the design of the house, but will allow your clients to start with a clean slate on how they choose to use technology in their everyday lives. Every buyer understands the value of leveraging technology. They are investing in the future value of their home, and opportunities exist today to position your firm to be on the cutting edge of technology in wired communities where people are willing to pay a premium to be.
John Cioe is a practicing design/build professional and member of CEDIA and NAHB. Co-founder of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Newport Custom Homes and Custom Home Technology USA, he uses his technology company to educate and develop partnerships with designers and builders across the country. Cioe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (480) 797-8163.