Saturday, February 10, 2007

Builder Technology Study

As the International Builders' Show winds down in Orlando, the CEA is offering its Fifth Annual State of the Builder Technology Market Study. The study updates data on builders' offerings and installations of home technologies in new homes. The complete study is available at

Some key findings from the study include: [My comments are bracketed.]

• More builders are offering more home technologies than ever before. Technologies that are gaining ground include home theater, automated lighting controls, home automation, and energy management. Structured wiring is the most popular home technology installed in new homes. [HDTV and the melding of the PC and TV will be significant drivers of electronics in the home. Structured wiring will continue to be the most important amenity in multifamily, primarily because most wireless systems remain largely unproven in high-density communities. Interest in monitored security continues to decrease as access control systems grow in popularity.]

• Home technologies are important to the successful marketing of new homes. 84% of builders say home technologies are important in marketing new homes. However, home builders are relying almost exclusively on installation contractors to market and sell technology to new home buyers. [Quality communications services and technology amenities have also shown to be a significant factor in retaining residents. Many developers have also found that offering a choice of services, rather than one exclusive provider, can be important in the marketing of multifamily communities.]

• Home technologies have a positive impact on builders’ revenues. Over 40% of builders believe home technology offerings increased their revenues in 2006. [Condo developers are increasingly beginning to offer technology packages to buyers, and some technologies such as home theater and whole-home audio are even viable options in many apartment communities.]

• Builders primarily employ security installers, electrical contractors, and custom installers to install home technologies. Home builders are more satisfied with custom installers than with any other type of contractor when it comes to home technology installation. [Best Buy and other mega-retailers now offer installation services, and some telecom providers are subsidizing home technology packages to win business as a community's provider of choice. As service providers and big box retailers get into the installation game, it will be interesting to see what effect this will have on who builders will partner with in the future, as well as the level of quality in the work completed.]

As home technologies grow in popularity in the overall home market, it will become increasingly important for multifamily builders to keep pace. Home buyers and renters have come to expect a certain lifestyle of connectivity and convenience, and homes that force residents to sacrifice part of that lifestyle will be at a serious disadvantage.

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