The next generation of homes to be built by volume housebuilders need to take an array of different considerations into account in order to be truly cutting-edge – responding to today’s technological advances – and future-proof, by remaining responsible to the environment throughout construction and in their day-to-day energy usage.
This post will aim to take a peek through the looking glass at the next generation of homes, and explore the variety of ways properties can be designed with sustainability of all kinds in mind.
The construction process
Most, if not all, types of traditional construction are detrimental to the environment. Brick-and-mortar construction requires a huge amount of water and chemicals to pull off successfully, while the energy used to create steel and glass skyscrapers is vast, to say the least – but there are alternatives galore that have forced their way into mainstream reckoning over the last decade or so.
Modular construction boomed in the reconstruction years, after World War II, as families were moved into prefabricated homes while Europe rebuilt itself. These homes had a reputation for being poorly constructed, and ‘prefab’ soon became a byword for poor quality.
Today’s modular homes couldn’t be further from this, as this type of construction is entering the mainstream with gusto. Pre-built modules, constructed off-site in specialist factories and assembled on-site, offer a quiet, eco-friendly method of construction – and can be created very quickly, reducing overall disruption in a local area.
It stands to reason that this type of construction holds the keys to the future of volume house building, with the ability to tackle the shortfall in the market far more efficiently than traditional methods, with the added bonus of being inherently eco-friendly.
New homes need to be energy-efficient, particularly in the current climate. Not only will hard-pressed homeowners appreciate how cheap an efficient home is to run, but they’ll also be living in increased harmony with the environment. Supplying new homes with a grass roof, a rainfall catcher and a solar water heater as standard will dramatically reduce the strain your new homes have on the local area, but you could also go a few steps further and make your development wholly carbon-neutral.
Doing so involves building specific carbon-neutral infrastructure for the new streets and cul-de-sacs that you’ll be building. From wind turbines that generate energy – which feeds back into the National Grid – to underground waste chutes that simplify recycling, there are numerous options available to developers looking to minimise environmental impact.
The personal assistant
Personal assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have slowly but surely become ubiquitous in households across the land, thanks to their low price points and infinite connectability with various different home automation systems. A home with such an assistant built in – meaning every room is reachable with the utterance of a certain phrase – is undoubtedly the future of comfortable home living.
Some homeowners might balk at the idea of cameras and microphones in every room of their house, and they do have a point, as Alexa has been hacked by a number of attackers in recent years. The next generation smart home will have to be impervious to such technological assaults – which means that there will need to be a hefty firewall and two-step authentication to give homeowners peace of mind that they’re protected against this very modern form of home invasion.
Personal assistants in the future home will be responsible for far more than trivial tasks like playing music and remembering shopping lists, thanks to the advent of AI.
The future of home design will include technology at every step of the process. Recent advances in AI have meant that artificial intelligence can be used to aid in the design of housing developments – reducing costly human error that could result in environmental damage.
AI ‘designers’ such as Project Discover can help to refine architects’ models of various developments, by modeling the long-term durability of the designs to find the best options. Such technology could, in theory, help design housing that can more effectively stand the test of time.
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In terms of living, AI forms an integral part of smart homes. By learning residents’ life patterns and what they tend to do at certain times, AI can set the heating to come on at the right time, move sun shades around to keep the home cool and much more. Building homes with the Internet of Things (IoT) tech built in, or enabling easy installation in an unfurnished home, is essential in order for your development to be attractive to investors and buyers.
Data throughout the home
The ‘smart mirror’ is a burgeoning trend that adds a splash of sci-fi finesse to the home of the future. As the recent line-up of smart mirrors at CES proves, this tech will use AI to advise on outfits, give a live weather forecast, and even analyse your skin to see if you need to moisturise.
Having this sort of live data and information at your fingertips is the epitome of the home of the future – as all home innovations from the laundry mangle to the microwave have been based around one simple premise: making your life easier.
Augmented reality, or AR for short, is the technology that allows you to look like a dog on a Snapchat filter, and superimpose various other things onto the world around you – but it can also be used to help potential homeowners visualise a space they’re considering making their home. From furniture to bathroom fittings like shower heads, everything can be visualised by this technology – making your homes a lot more marketable, even before you design an attractive show home.
AR’s potential is endless when it comes to construction. A server that carries geotags of various hazards during the construction process and offers visualisations of the finished project is just one application of this revolutionary technology.
The smart kitchen
The kitchen is not exempt from the rising tide of technological change that’ll define the home of tomorrow. From smart refrigerators with push notifications to 3D food printers straight out of Star Trek, there’s plenty of technologies ready to shake up the kitchen of the future.
Make sure the kitchens in your development have plenty of power outlets in order to be truly future-proof – as the kitchen is about to become as connected as the rest of the home.
This peek behind the curtain of the home of tomorrow should stand you in good stead with regards to future-proofing your developments. Striking a fine balance between technological advancement and environmental responsibility is the way forward, as the home buyers of the future will be ever more discerning in these key areas.
Just make sure the structural and design elements are equally attuned with changing tastes, and that your construction methods are as environmentally friendly as possible.
Author bio: Moosa Adam works at 1 Click Bathrooms, the UK’s online one-stop shop that helps homeowners build their dream bathroom, piece by piece.