It’s easy to picture what your dream home would look like, but can you imagine what a home of the future would look like?
Today’s homebuilders are laser-focused on anticipating the needs and wants of buyers years from now. They are looking at how they can construct homes that leverage technology and sustainable materials, and re-envision design elements to deliver real value to homeowners in the future.
One such homebuilder is Lennar Ventures and Chief Marketing Officer Emily Frager says the future is top-of-mind across the industry. She points out that where the emphasis on finishes such as stainless steel and granite were once paramount, now the focus for both builder and buyer is on technology and home automation.
Technology has to translate into features that “give back.” For example, with the addition of solar elements to a home, homeowners have the ability not just to consume energy but to produce and offset their energy usage.
Home automation is also going to be more sophisticated in the future. Before, a home might have had a Sonos box for wireless sound throughout, a Nest thermostat and an alarm system through a cable provider. But those were all separate services acquired through separate vendors with no true alignment. Next-generation homes will have those and many more services completely integrated with everything accessible from a single control panel.
Already, there is talk about differentiating between a connected home and a truly smart home. The connected home is simply technology that makes your life more convenient and your home run more smoothly, but these technological features don’t really “talk” to each other in a way that can anticipate our needs and moves.
With a connected home, you need to still take action to use the technology; with a smart home, the devices work together to anticipate or recognize and deliver what you need in the way of comfort, convenience, safety and more. Imagine a home that notes the weather temperature outside, anticipates your preferences for indoor room comfort and adjusts the thermostat 30 minutes before you arrive home from work!
What this means is that just as technology has created a more personal, individualized experience for consumers today, so will the home of the future be more tailored to the lifestyle and convenience of the homeowner.
Aside from the technology, there are a lot of other interesting building trends that are projected for the future, according to architecture expert Jackie Craven:
- Dirt, or earth, and other simple, bio-degradable materials that harken back to ancient building techniques to preserve the environment.
- Modular building materials that take the “pre-fab” home to a new, modern, and sustainable level.
- Adaptive reuse of former historical or older buildings, such as churches, warehouses, hotels, etc., that can morph into a home.
- Healthy and durable building materials like insulation made out of non-toxic natural material such as recycled denim and insulated wall panels made out of concrete.
- Flexible floor plans that can change with your needs, through movable wall panels, pocket doors and other features that transform a room’s usefulness.
- More accessible floor plans, eliminating features like stairs and multi-level spaces, high cabinets, and shelving, etc., to make living spaces convenient for anyone.
- Outdoor spaces that serve as part of the house floor plan, with kitchens and living areas incorporated in the home’s design.
- More storage and more space to accommodate the trend toward consumption of material goods, meaning larger walk-in closets and expansive garages to accommodate SUVs, motorcycles and other recreational “toys.”
No matter where building science or modern technology take us in the conceptualization of the home of the future, no doubt these structures will still look like a home to us.
As architect Sarah Susanka has been quoted on the subject, “We still like a house that looks like a house.” And Sir Winston Churchill said, “We shape our homes, then our homes shape us.”
In many ways, we are uniquely connected on a personal level to our homes and the desire for home ownership has endured through the dramatic peaks and valleys of the real estate market. There is little doubt that there will be a home of the future and the ideas of what it might be are proving interesting and exciting.
Michael Blower is president of the Central Valley Association of Realtors and an agent with Grupe Real Estate. You can reach him at [email protected]