Tech­nol­ogy is be­com­ing an essen­tial fea­ture of our daily lives. Most of us have ex­pe­ri­enced that fa­mil­iar – but not al­ways ra­tio­nal – sense of panic that strikes when we step out the door and re­alise we’ve left our phones on the kitchen work­top, for in­stance. And over the past cou­ple of years, the mar­ket for smart tech­nol­ogy has boomed, un­der­lined by the fact big hit­ters like Amazon and Ap­ple are en­ter­ing the mar­ket with af­ford­able, ac­ces­si­ble op­tions for con­trol­ling mu­sic, TVS, lighting and more. ese gad­gets can gen­uinely im­prove the way you in­ter­act with your liv­ing space, even sav­ing you money off en­ergy bills. But in the age of Facebook data scan­dals, it’s a good time to take a step back and as­sess how se­cure our home tech en­vi­ron­ments re­ally are. If you’re still us­ing pass­words like ‘qw­erty’ or ‘let­mein’ for your net­work-en­abled de­vices, then you should prob­a­bly skip the rest of this wel­come and head straight to page 84!

If you’re just start­ing out on the path to cre­at­ing your dream home, then we’ve got plenty of ad­vice and in­spi­ra­tion for you to sink your teeth into this is­sue. On page 62, Mike Hard­wick looks at why the de­sign and build pack­age route makes sense for first-time self-builders. And on page 103, our res­i­dent plan­ning ex­pert Mike Dade has compiled an essen­tial check­list you should stick to when as­sess­ing a plot’s po­ten­tial to ac­com­mo­date a new house. If you want to add space and value to a her­itage home, don’t miss Opin­der Lid­dar’s de­sign mas­ter­class on page 106.

We’ve also got you cov­ered when it comes to spec­i­fy­ing prod­ucts; from Nigel Grif­fiths’ ex­pert tips on se­lect­ing sus­tain­able, healthy build­ing ma­te­ri­als (page 88) through to guides on mod­ern stair­cases (page 66), bath­room wall tiles (page 74) choos­ing the right struc­tural sys­tem (page 78) and the ben­e­fits of easy-to-in­stall, ul­tra-solid beam and block floor struc­tures (page 111). Plus, this is­sue comes with our in-depth guide to wow-fac­tor glaz­ing – and a 2-for-1 ticket of­fer (page 72) for the next Build It Live event, where you can get free ex­pert ad­vice for your project.

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