Mak­ing a smart choice

Herald Sun - Property - - NEWS - BENN DORRINGTON

SMART home tech­nol­ogy is on the rise as home­own­ers em­brace a fu­ture of in­tu­itive houses.

Home­own­ers are join­ing the home au­to­ma­tion move­ment, start­ing with ap­pli­ances that con­nect to your mo­bile phone via the in­ter­net through to com­plete in­te­grated sys­tems such as C-Bus.

And real es­tate agents say buy­ers are now ex­pect­ing cer­tain in­no­va­tions such as in­ter­net points through­out the home.

The take up of smart home tech­nol­ogy is mod­est, mainly due to cost, but new na­tional fig­ures show it is on the rise.

The num­ber of home au­to­ma­tion-re­lated jobs rose 37 per cent in Jan­uary to April com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from home im­prove­ment web­site Hi­pages.com.au.

Pop­u­lar smart tech­nol­ogy projects out­side the home in­clude so­lar power, home se­cu­rity and au­tomat­ing doors, gates and garage ac­cess.

In­side, peo­ple are in­creas­ingly con­nect­ing up home the­atres, en­ter­tain­ment sys­tems, lights and ap­pli­ances.

Hi­pages co-founder David Vitek said smart home tech­nol­ogy was the next evolution in mak­ing life eas­ier.

The C-Bus and Dy­nalite wiring sys­tems, which act as a cen­tral hub for con­trol­ling things like light­ing, blinds, air­con­di­tion­ing and au­dio, have be­come syn­ony­mous with home au­to­ma­tion.

How­ever, Mr Vitek said wire­less in­ter­net was mak­ing home au­to­ma­tion more ac­ces­si­ble to home­own­ers who could not af­ford more so­phis­ti­cated sys­tems that re­quired wiring through the house.

“If you con­sider that most peo­ple now have wi-fi and the ca­pa­bil­ity that brings — it means ev­ery­one has a plat­form to start think­ing about other things that can be au­to­mated in the home,” Mr Vitek said.

For ex­am­ple, Mr Vitek said he linked his door­bell to his mo­bile phone via wi-fi so when it rang so did his phone, al­low­ing him to talk to the per­son at his door.

“I didn’t need to wire the door­bell into my home to ring my phone, I just used wi-fi,” he said.

Protec Elec­tri­cal Ser­vices owner Troy Jack­son said most of the in­crease in home au­to­ma­tion in Mel­bourne had been in the top-end of the mar­ket, in sub­urbs like Toorak.

He said the cost of smart home tech­nol­ogy, nor­mally thou­sands of dol­lars, meant it was still con­sid­ered a lux­ury.

Mr Jack­son said a lot of peo­ple were opt­ing for the cheaper op­tion of in­stalling in­ter­net points through­out the home so that ap­pli­ances like tele­vi­sions could ac­cess the in­ter­net di­rectly in­stead of re­ly­ing on wi-fi.

This pro­vided faster in­ter­net speeds, seen as es­pe­cially im­por­tant with the rise of on­line stream­ing ser­vices such as Net­flix and Stan. “Peo­ple are be­com­ing more tech-savvy in many ways,” he said.

Real es­tate agent John Clarkson, of Bux­ton in Brighton, said smart home tech­nol­ogy added value to homes but it was hard to quan­tify how much.

He said buyer de­mand for in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity was greater th­ese days be­cause peo­ple de­pended on the in­ter­net much more than they used to — whether it was watch­ing tele­vi­sion pro­grams on­line or for re­search.

Mr Clarkson said there was a push to in­stall net­work­ing and home au­to­ma­tion de­vices among home­own­ers that were ei­ther build­ing, re­build­ing or ren­o­vat­ing.

Buyer’s ad­vo­cate David Morell said home au­to­ma­tion was not just pop­u­lar but ex­pected at the top end of the mar­ket.

He said wealthy home­buy­ers of­ten bought with plans to ren­o­vate, spend­ing mil­lions on projects that in­cluded state-ofthe-art tech­nol­ogy.

“I’ve seen some houses that have more au­to­ma­tion than a 747,” Mr Morell said.

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