What do you think what is house technology?
Our electronic definitions web site has answer for that as well:
in the brave new world of the "intelligent" house technology will solve the problems for you. Let the guests in by remotely opening the front door via your electronic organiser. Log on to your internee page to close the curtains, set the lights and start that new CD, just as they arrive.
Remember to trigger the odour spray in the kitchen to kill the curry -hit "cinnamon" on the web page. Then e-mail the nearby delicatessen to supply supper, through the electronic delivery hatch at the side of the house.
.As you drive home, start running your bath hy tapping in a security number to turn on the taps and set the water temperature. Then nip in through the back entrance, have a quick dip and "itshay gracefully down the stairs to start the proceedings.
future fantasy? Not any more. In America, secure home technology has already become a home essential - and not just for the super-rich. The computer giant IBM has already persuaded house-builders there to integrate high-specification wiring into 20% of new homes. These economies of scale make installation costs cheap, so some American houses costing as little as $100,000 (£70,000) already have it. More than 50% of new American houses in all price ranges should include this by 2005.
In Britain, high-tech gadgetry is currently only available in houses at the top end of the market but it may soon be standard in many new homes. Estate agents say gadgetry has proved a winner with high-earning clients.
"Location is still the most important factor, but if you have two roughly similar properties and one has good technology, it will be the one to sell first," says Charles Smith of Sotherby`s International Realty.
"A lot of buyers of flats costing £2m or more work in financial industries so spend a lot of time in the office. They need time-saving technology when they are at home and don`t want to wait to have it, so they will go for somewhere where it`s already in place," says Smith.
One of London`s most technically advanced properties is a two-bedroom flat in Holland Park, for sale for £2m through Knight Frank and Hamptons International.
Curtains, blinds lights, music and water can be controlled either from a keypad in the house or remotely, via the internet. Software can record the owner`s movements over a two-week period and replicate them during holidays, to fool a burglar keeping watch.
SM Contracts a firm that works with property developers on fitting out high-value flats and houses, fitted out the Holland Park flat and has also worked on a £2m Hertfordshire house modified to be a test-bed for the Orange mobile telephone company.
It features the now customary touch-screen technology and solar heating, but also has a robotic lawnmower, press-button key fobs to lock and unlock room doors, and "intelligent heating" that comes on automatically in areas that are occupied. Some of the equipment can be worked by mobile phone.
Joining the technological revolution isn`t cheap, however: it costs about £30,000 simply to rewire a large flat for these kinds of gadgets. Making such innovations at listed buildings, where internal changes are restricted, will cost more again.
Then there is the hardware: the best home cinema projector and sound kit costs £30,000, before you add the seats and carpet the room. But hit one button on a keypad and a screen lowers, the lights dim, and the DVD player cranks into action. Other must-haves include pre-set electrical systems, which automatically illuminate routes for people as they walk around the house and turn off lights as they leave rooms.
One of the latest gadgets being installed by developers is the "home delivery dock", which makes tedious waiting for the unreliable delivery man a thing of the past.
There are versions on trial now in some top-of the-range homes. One is the Homeport, a locking station secured to an outside wall. Deliveries are made in steel boxes electronically bolted to the
locking station, and held secure until the house owner returns and uses a swipe card to release them.
Laing Homes has installed a system called Delivery Point into a number of houses in Richmond, Surrey. Each unit costs £7,000 and consists of a walk-in cabinet on the side of the property, with one door leading to the house and another to the street.
Authorised deliverers enter a Pin number to open the outside door and load the cabinet, which includes a refrigeration unit. The householder unloads via the interior door.
A system being tested by other developers is called the BearBox, designed by Sebastian Conran and made by Electrolux. A courier again uses a Pin number to open the door and load up, but after the delivery the system alerts the householder by sending a text message to their mobile phone.
But sometimes technology outwits even the estate agents exploiting it to get a quick sale.
David Peters, of Knight Frank in London, was recently calculating room sizes for a London property being put on the market when the owner telephoned to break the news he was changing his mind.
"The phone rang and the security man in the next room picked it up. Although the owner was several thousands of miles away, he had been monitoring us via a camera system linked to his
computer and told us to stop the measuring," says Peters.
Sunday, September 16, 2001