Are property developers missing out on revenue?
Even with the huge growth of personal and home Audio Visual systems and the emergence of various standardisation to support this, having your home pre-wired for future is still very rare. CEDIA, the Residential Body for Smart Homes has reported in their December 2014 Market report that the split of new-build to retrofit projects remains the same in 2014 as it was in 2013 at a 40%:60% split of the £910-£975 million market.
In recent years the cost of pre-wiring a home or block of apartments or MDUs (Multi-Dwelling Unit) has fallen dramatically as well as become more relevant for the average buyer. Previously you needed complex and expensive control and multi-zone systems costing 10’s to 100’s of thousands to benefit from integrating cables into the fabric of a building and this just didnt makes sense on a 1:5, AV:Apartment cost and technology seemed to evolve so fast that often the products specified in a project were out of date before they were even installed!
Technology still moves fast but so has the revolution in audio streaming services from the likes of Spotify, Rdio, Qobuz, Deezer, Napster, Google Play Music, Tidal etc and video streaming services such as Netflix, NowTV (by Sky), Amazon Prime Instant Video, streaming services coupled with the ability to watch 1000s of these services available on sytems like AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick & TV, Google Chromecast and most modern TVs, as well as any portable device you wish.
What this means for the customers buying a property is that they can easily and cheaply have audio and video in every room of their flat, independent of the other rooms but still linked together so that bought movies, streamed series and music being listened to can be transfered room to room, started and stopped from where you left off and generally used without needing an expensive audio or video matrix to switch them. Switching is effectively done in software nowadays and functionality is upgraded in regular cycles often for free as opposed to the previously expensive hardware upgrades done less regularly and thus missing out on major features.
There are of course pros and cons to all this. People who may have previously have bought premium systems, have now seen the adverts and played with the newest line of gadgets from the likes of Sonos, Apple and Samsung and opt to install them at home instead of the higher-end solutions but this means that more often than not these systems haven’t been planned out and can get expensive when retrofitting and they can then become disappointed and disillusioned with the technology. The upside is that it has brought the technologies to the masses, upgrading their experience meaning that more and more people can have integrated Audio, Video, Lighting and Security with their new home but it’s still a long way off being integrated into every home. The growing assumption though, amongst people buying into these technologies is that wireless is the way forward but unfortunately, wireless is more easily cracked, can’t work for all devices and the wifi space is quickly becoming cramped, getting more so with the growth of the Internet of things which will bring billions of wireless devices to our lives. Powering devices such as in-ceiling speakers can’t (currently) be done wirelessly and so wires need to be run. What this means is that there is a gap currently which few developers are taking advantage of, especially in the middle and lower-end flats which could help differentiate themselves by adding only mere hundreds to the cost of a flat but potentially tens of thousands to the sales price
So what does this mean for the developer?
Well, It’s great news really! It’s a new and very easy way for developers to differentiate their properties and attract buyers without substantial outlay… and it’s variable. As an a developer you can prepare your properties for future technologies by just installing a small amount of cabling in a standardised, repeatable way, potentially adding a Wow factor at all levels of properties – easily demonstrable in Sales Suites and online.
An entry level property could be cheaply wired for Speakers, TVs and Wifi although for the price increase, adding cabling for integration of Lighting, Blinds, Security, Access, CCTV cabling is is a huge bonus to cost ratio. And, with the convergence to Ethernet it’s it’s even easier and provides greater cost savings.
It also leaves the doors open for a host of other services and products that can be added at a later date such as concierge services via an app or in-flat touch panel for laundry and parking or Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze levels of SmartHome which could include Audio Distribution, Video Distribution, Lighting Control, CCTV Access, Blind Control or integration with Health Systems allowing buyers to tap their Apple Watch on the front door to unlock it, turn the lights on to a set level, open the blinds and set up the cinema and kitchen task lighting.
What it needs is the cabling and centralised locations in advance to clear the way.
If you’re a developer of a multi-use building or homeowner thinking about this, why not drop us a line. As an independent consultant specialising in AV, Smart Buildings, BMS, Lighting, Power and other IT areas we can show you what to avoid, what the costs may be, identify and negotiate savings, where the best areas to make money are, the opportunities and threats for your apartments as well as shops, malls, bars, restaurants, receptions and common areas. We can create the strategy, do the designs, manage your tender and ensure your project is successful, maybe even create an internal standard for you to use on all future Design & Build Projects. Or if all you want is an exploratory cost research piece to see whether it’s worth it, let us know!