A good house builder or housing developer follows the trends in home design and construction. A great builder or developer leads by predicting the trends before they happen. One such trend that will redefine the housing market more and more in 2024 and beyond is smart home integration.
In the early days of home automation, many smart devices fitted into homes as they stood. You could pop an Alexa on your kitchen counter and a smart vacuum dock under your dresser or sofa.
Now, home automation increasingly demands homes that are either built or adapted to allow for it. As smart home devices are increasingly systemised and integrated, they require houses that are designed around them more and more. This could be compared to the early development of central heating or electrics where the first systems were always installed to fit around existing houses. Then after systems became more expansive and normalised, houses were increasingly developed and built with these systems installed.
Normalisation of systems and devices is another driving force behind smart home integration into housing design, just as it has been for many other integrations. Today, houses are routinely designed and built to contain fridges, cookers, washing machines, baths, and showers. Meanwhile, some premium homes allow for jacuzzis, hot tubs, and large-screen TVs. As we go into 2024 and the second half of the twenties, the same will begin to come true for smart devices and systems.
There were 375 million smart homes around the world at the end of 2023, and this is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 10.7% (CAGR 2024-2028) according to Statista. This is an impressive growth ratio, thanks in part to smart home technology breaking through across the board and being accepted by most people: This is illustrated by a recent survey by Compare the Market which showed that only 7.9% of respondents didn’t own any smart devices or want to invest in any.
During the 19th century, expensive new electric devices were first installed in large new-build houses like Cragside in Northumberland because the owners could afford to install them. The same is true of modern premium homes old and new, which will be the first to benefit from adaptation to smart technology. Indeed, some already are. Housing developers at the premium end of the market have begun to work with smart home integrators and home automators like ourselves to provide their clients with the smart home technology they desire. As smart systems become cheaper and more widely available, we can expect more and more homes to be developed to accommodate the technology across the market, as they did with electricity over the past decades.
The big questions that remain are how is this change going to affect smart home development and what areas will be affected.
Like so many things, early examples of smart home technology function simply on a stand-alone basis, often with easy installs. Alexas for example might be compared to early mass-market gas heaters, which could be plugged into a canister and turned on. Now though, home heating systems are commonly integrated with mains gas, electricity and water as well as devices such as thermostats, something which happens from construction in almost all new builds.
By the early 2020s, smart home systems had already moved toward some level of general integration, with smart audio-visual, security, energy and heating systems often linked to phones, virtual assistants and each other. Because of this, We’re beginning to see more sophisticated and integrated smart home control systems taking the place of more simple setups in some places. Further down the line, Master Appraisal Services predicts that over half a billion homes worldwide will have at least one type of complete smart system installed by 2028. That’s 24% of all households around the world with a fully integrated smart system, such as smart heating, smart security, smart lighting or smart energy tracking.
A statistic like this illustrates how important it will be to build houses ready to incorporate smart home systems. New builds without these will require a significant proportion of buyers to make costly adaptations to their homes after purchase, which could be quite a repellent.
The integration of individual smart devices into the home is likely to become more of an attraction in the coming years as well. For example, some homes already exist with cubby holes for smart vacuum docks. Perhaps less exotic is the tendency for many smart fridges to be of the wide American design, requiring more space in the average kitchen. In the same area, exciting new things are coming our way in smart hob technology: New electric hobs allow owners to allot different areas to different types of cooking, warming, and cooling with the touch of a button. Meanwhile, there are bespoke kitchen systems that track what is in the fridge and cupboards, providing a list of recipes that can be made, which are then transferred to a screen on the hob. Mass-produced, integrated versions of this system are already in development. Needless to say, it could be a huge draw to the many food lovers and family chefs out there.
Smart lighting can achieve some amazing effects while allowing residents to switch between different scenes. This is particularly true at the premium end of the market. Just recently, Baker Stone worked with architects and landscapers to turn the garden of one Italian villa into a wonderland of illuminated flowers and trees. The lights used for this ranged from average-sized lanterns and spotlights to imposing structures the size of small trees. Many of these lights have smart lighting features such as colour, direction, and intensity changes, which go well beyond the basics to create different scenes.
Of course, large and striking smart lights like these require much more than a particular fitting and maybe some special wiring. For now, such lavishness is limited to very high-end construction projects, but more and more complex lighting designs will likely expand to the upper-mid and mid-market over the next five to ten years.
Standards are a big part of any industry’s development, making products and services easier to work with. As we progress through the 2020s, increasingly prevalent standards in smart home integration like KNX and the new Matter standard are changing the home automation market for the better. These are gradually putting an end to awkward wiring and integration problems, as well as early obsolescence. The upshot is that experts from other industries, from housing developers to architects, will find it easier to adapt to and work with smart home technologies and experts. It will become much easier to design and develop buildings to accommodate smart home systems. Meanwhile, those within the industry will be able to achieve more in the same projects. And we can all be secure in the knowledge that our installations are safe and long-lived.
As we have already mentioned, central heating is one of the most integral systems in a building, often requiring gas and water piping, as well as multiple mains electricity connections. This makes replacing it with a smart equivalent after the fact expensive, which makes installing smart central heating systems in new build homes a great investment for housing developers and a draw for buyers.
The public recognises the benefits, too. A recent survey by Compare the Market found that smart thermostats and heating systems were the third most popular smart technology people wanted if they didn’t own them already, and the second most popular integrated smart system after smart security. While smart security can, and perhaps should, be added to houses after the fact, true smart heating systems require adaptation of the building or installation during construction.
Housing developers and smart home specialists need to integrate smart technology into new and old homes together.
There was a time not so long ago when a homeowner could plug the best of smart technology into their home and be happy that they were on the cutting edge. Now and in the future though, smart systems need to be integrated with each other and, more importantly, with the houses they occupy. As this becomes the case, housing designers, developers, and builders gain the opportunity to satisfy their customers and lead the market in a novel way, while adding value to the homes they build.
To learn more about how this could benefit your business and its projects, book a free design call with one of our senior specialists.