The Home of the Future – Sooner Than You Think

This is the week we get out our crystal ball and have a look at what homes will be like in the future. We’re not talking about the world of the Jetsons. We’re talking about how home will change in the next five to ten years. Your home is the largest investment you will ever make, and you need to be prepared for coming trends. There are a lot of factors at work that will create huge changes in our homes, and home automation will be a big part of it.

Enhanced safety features and controls will be important

We will be building smaller more compact living environments, but they will be packed with punch. It is no surprise that fast-changing technology is the leading factor driving home design and home automation. With iPhones and touch pads now common place, intuitive user interfaces and touch controls will be used to control HVAC systems, lighting, sound, video and security in our home environments. Enhanced safety features and controls for its occupants will be an important consideration as the internet and social media outlets continue to connect us more and more.

So, what will the home of the near-future be like? The following are some of the ideas the industry is considering.

First and foremost is quality of life. There was a time when home size was a status symbol and people tried to buy the biggest place with the largest yard. Now, with more and more buyers wanting a short commute and a city lifestyle and with less and less serviced land, it isn’t about size. It’s about your day to day experience in the home.

Smaller Home

The new homes may be smaller, but they will be higher quality in all aspects. Home automation is a big part of that. The enhanced electronic lifestyle, convenience features and improved security are all major parts of a smaller but better home. High quality automated appliances will also be a part of this. The products that we choose will be more intuitive and use advanced technologies as well. Kohler’s Numi toilet, DTV Prompt digital showering system, and Crevasse® prep sink with Cynchronus rinsing technology are just a few of the newest products to offer more convenience for the user and enhanced functionality.

The monster homes we see now will go because of the many drawbacks to owning them. One problem with the old-fashioned McMansion is that they tended to be fuel and energy guzzlers. Utility prices continue to climb fast than the rate of inflation. The future home will have to be energy efficient. Home automation can help in many ways, with intelligent window coverings, thermostat control and better and more efficient ways to use and control lighting.

A green home is an automated home.

There will also be people who will want to leave the power grid and produce their own energy. A basic 230 watt solar panel is now very affordable. However, managing the output from that kind of system efficiently will still be something best left to a home automation system. The touch screen of the future will tell you how many watts your home is generating, what you’re using and how much you have stored, and will be able to switch the entire house to eco mode when required.

As real estate hits peak values, the resale for a profit mentality will go. Instead, people will look to buy and hold in a home that is tailored to their lifestyle. That means more and more design/build where the buyer, the designer, the builder and technology provider are all part of the same team from day one. Automating the home exactly the way you want it is a key part of personalizing your living space.

Multi-generation family compound.

Some designers are now thinking beyond the single family home and looking at the multi-generation family compound.

This used to be something only the rich could do, but the single family home may soon be a luxury we can’t afford. The compound home is like a mini-resort, with common areas like kitchens, pools, saunas and dining rooms. Home automation will manage the different areas so they are easily reserved by family members. The use of automated moving partitions will allow spaces to be combined or divided to make them more versatile. Automated walls will also allow us to open the home to the outside, bringing in more fresh air and improving our health. An automated modular home is ready to become a living space, a work space or a space to entertain.

Finally, there is the effect of our ageing population. One of the biggest changes that we will see residentially in the next 5-10 years is the permanent implementation of accessible design. As the Baby Boomers age, we will experience a Senior Tsunami, and the way we have designed homes in the past will not work for this ageing generation. The independent Boomer generation wants and expects to age in place, and the only way they will be able to do that is with new construction or extensive remodeling to make their homes accessible.

Home Automation for Seniors

Home automation will be a huge part of allowing seniors to stay in their homes. Part of this will be the emergence of Universal Design.

This is a new set of standards that benefit all users, but especially those with disabilities. If you live long enough, you will develop a disability. With life spans getting longer, designs that assists a variety of disabilities will become standard construction.

The changes that we will see will include wider hallways and doors, entrances on grade or ramps incorporated into the landscaping and façade, faucets and door handles controlled by push buttons or touch screens. Stairs will be minimized in new construction, and automated chair lifts, stair lifts, and elevators will be retrofitted in existing homes. Home theatre systems will be equipped with wireless hearing-assist systems for older family members.

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To learn the process of designing a smart home or Can You Do This Yourself – you may be interested reading some of our blog post.

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