Mythbusting: What Homebuilders Really Think About Home Automation

Tech expert Bob Dolph deconstructs the myths and misconceptions for builders who are skeptical of the smart home and home automation products.

Mythbusting: What Homebuilders Really Think About Home Automation

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Orlando, Fla. In the famous words of Ed Sullivan, it was a “really big shoo” and occupied the entire Orange County Convention Center complex.

One of the biggest markets for the security trade has been homebuilders and new construction, so I was curious to see how advancements in smart home technology were being received by the homebuilding trade.

First, the good news. I was glad to see that for the second straight year, the IBS show floor featured the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association) Technology Solutions Pavilion, which was designated specifically to showcase exhibitors that specialize in home technology solutions.

Even though the footprint of this floor space was small with only a few dozen exhibitors it generated plenty of interest from the attendees. The bad news, builders are still making a so-so effort to get onboard the smart home and Internet of Things (IoT) bandwagon.

However, this can be a great opportunity for those in the security industry to sell more products and services.

Grayling Love II, building product line manager at Eaton Corp., Peachtree City, Ga., notes, “Builders need to make sure they are informed about emerging technologies and products. Homeowners are expecting their home to have some level of intelligence. Builders should have some offering to consumers, whether it is provided directly or through a third party.”

It is becoming apparent that soon, a home without smart technology will be worth less than one with it. The challenge to the builder is how to professionally meet these new consumer technology demands.

Demystifying Home Tech Myths & Misconceptions

Tool Tip

Photo Courtesy Klein Tools

It’s a good day when a technician can employ technology to gain an extra hand for installations. The handy MAG2 magnetizer/demagnetizer from Klein Tools can assist. What I really like about this device, which magnetizes/demagnetizes screwdriver bits and tips, is the practical keyfob design. It is now easier than ever to make that screwdriver hold on to those small, pesky mounting screws.

Brief presentations were conducted at the CEDIA Technology Solutions Pavilion. Many were by builders vouching for the virtues of using home automation (HA) professionals. Below are some myths and misconceptions builders have about HA, as presented by home remodeler and builder Christopher Wright, owner of Indianapolis-based Wrightworks.

Myth: I have to be a “techie.”
TRUTH: As a builder, the technology curve is just too much to keep up on. What is needed is trusted partners for those smart home technology solutions. Also, then the builder starts to understand what is possible when working with HA professionals.

Myth: Obsolescence; the fear that it will not work in a few years.
TRUTH: However, working with a smart home specialist will ensure an infrastructure that over time will support the customer’s future technology demands.

Myth: We’ll have to throw out what they’re using.
TRUTH: When remodeling, ask customers what smart technology they already own that the builder can augment. Demonstrate value to what the customer has already invested in.

Myth: It’s a budget killer — please don’t take my finishes.
TRUTH: Adding lighting control does not mean that the customer has to have cheaper cabinets. With the proper sales approach added cost for tech will be a win-win in the client’s budget.

Myth: All that wireless technology can be added at the end.
TRUTH: Builders are reluctant to wade into HA. Since the Internet service provider (ISP) offers a router, the builder thinks they can just go out and buy some wireless IoT devices. The customer won’t be happy when they find out the technology could have been applied more professionally and possibly even at a better price.

Myth: My electrician can handle it too.
TRUTH: For years electricians were relied upon for all electrical work. However, working with low-voltage configurations, category cabling, and IoT/HA integration has surpassed the skill levels of many mainstream electricians.

Myth: The HA professional is just another sub/trade.
TRUTH: Not only should the HA pro be selected for their technology expertise, but they should also be included in the design and early planning process. They can help save a ton of money for you and the client.

A few tech treats caught my eye at the show. Highlights included the magnetic door dust barrier kit from Zipwall; Onelink Safe & Sound intelligent smoke detector with built-in voice services from First Alert; and Verge media distribution enclosures from Primex.

About the Author

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Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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