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Smart locks, an automated security system and temperature, lighting and TVs all controllable via the push of a button or a voice command to one of seven Alexas scattered throughout the house … Jeremy Hudson is living the high-tech dream.
And it’s a fantasy that’s now being shared by a sharply increasing number of home-buyers and owners around the country, with smart-tech features never before in so much demand.
The Hudson family can control what’s happening at home from pretty much anywhere, including the beach. Credit:Jeremy Hudson
“I like new technology but I only get it if it helps my life,” said photographer Hudson, 46, who lives with his wife, Sherie, and their two children on NSW’s Central Coast.
“We have a wireless Sonos music system with speakers everywhere, including eight in the garden so we can listen to music from anywhere. We’ve also just put a big glass screen into the deck that we project an image of a fireplace on.
“And the Alexas help us all everywhere. She helps me when I’m cooking or, when the kids are screaming and the dog’s barking and the TV is blaring, I can tell Alexa to turn the TV and lights off before my head explodes. She can control everything.”
Forget butler’s pantries, Hamptons-style kitchens and walk-in wardrobes. The most highly prized features on home-buyers’ wish-lists are now all to do with technology.
The glass screen on the Hudson’s deck.Credit:Jeremy Hudson
“Spurred on by the work-from-home movement, tech-enabled homes are becoming a prerequisite now,” said Nick Boyd, Belle Property’s head of growth Australasia. “People are now spending so much time at home, they want everything at their fingertips.
“Digital entry locks, security systems and cameras you can operate from an app on the phone, as well as smart pergolas that can tell when the weather is going to change are all now in more and more demand.”
Eight in 10 households report having access to at least one connected device, signalling how many are now relying on digital connectivity at home, according to data collated by national realtor Upside Realty. And demand is only rising from all age groups, says the company’s Matt Florence.
“We’re now seeing the demand from all age groups,” he said. “Younger professionals have always had an appetite for technology, but now we’re seeing it from older downsizers, or right-sizers, too. They’re looking for a fuss-free lifestyle, and technology can really make things easier.”
Front door keys are fast going out of fashion. Credit:iStock
Melbourne firm RT Edgar is seeing the strength of the sector, too. Director Jeremy Edgar said: “People are particularly keen on smart locks and smart security systems they can work from their mobiles because they usually spend so much time away. These kind of smart features are very attractive to buyers.”
Today’s top home-tech trends that we’re likely to see much more of in 2022, according to Upside Realty, are smart locks with keyless entry and the ability to let tradespeople or family members into your home remotely, as well as integrated alarm technology, so people can keep an eye on their homes via a smartphone app while at work or away, and see who is at the door.
Smart thermostats that offer zoning capabilities with timings and temperatures that can be set via a mobile phone are also popular, as well as lighting that only switches on in a room when people enter. Then there are digital microwaves and ovens which can be adjusted as dinner cooks, and motorised window treatments – blinds that open and close to a timetable.
Another increasingly popular smart-tech device, during these times of COVID-19, are built-in air-purifying systems that detect pollutants, adjust fan speed and deliver cleaner air into the home. Home automation is also in demand: a system that groups all smart devices into one app to make managing appliances a lot easier, and home security cameras with a mechanical privacy shutter.
Self-cleaning toilets are also having their day, with functions that clean and disinfects the toilet bowl without human scrubbing.
Developers, too, are increasingly including smart tech in their new homes. Stable Properties’ latest Sydney development — qubec on the northern beaches — has leveraged home automation, together with smart energy innovation, with the aim of being one of the country’s most technologically advanced complexes.
The new qubec apartments in Newport.
To be completed this May, all 18 three-bedroom villas in Newport have already been bought at prices ranging from $2.95 million to $3.7 million.
Director Ed Horton said the smart tech had proved a massive lure for customers, particularly with the biometric fingerprint front-door entries and the car parking’s number-plate recognition that would make it simple and fast for residents to just drive in without having to use fobs or keys to operate the garage door.
“We also don’t expect any residents to have to pay for electricity because we have solar energy, batteries and a virtual power plant to store the energy that’s created and link it into a network of other batteries around the state,” Mr Horton said. “People love that energy-efficient aspect.
“In addition, the smart technology is all linked, so you can open your front door to anyone from anywhere in the world through your phone, and next-generation appliances mean you can monitor their maintenance and diagnose if anything goes wrong with the fridge or oven, while they give you recipes and shopping lists for ingredients.”
Those building their own homes are also integrating many smart-tech features into their design and construction from the start.
Jon Hunter from Sydney’s Rose Bay included automated external louvres and internal blinds all along one side of his house, as well as a C-Bus home automation system.
“It makes life much easier when you just have one switch to press to bring seven blinds down to stop the sun coming in,” he said. “It’s also great to be able to turn on the lights at home when you’re not there for the dog, or have a Goodnight switch that turns everything off when you go to bed.”
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