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Builders Look to Tech to Differentiate Homes

Today's home builders seek to include at least some advanced technology in their homes.

Dallas, TX–Today’s home builders seek to include at least some advanced technology in their homes, according to 2004 Builder Survey, a new survey of 400 U.S. builders conducted by Parks Associates.

Programmable thermostats, security systems, and zoned HVAC systems top the list of most frequently offered products and more than two-thirds of the builders surveyed offer computer networking, structured wiring, and central vacuum systems with their homes.

“As was reported by The Wall Street Journal (December 7, 2004), builders are well into a new era in home building that encompasses much more than lumber, bricks, and granite countertops,” said Bill Ablondi, director of channel research for Parks Associates. “Our research affirms this finding, indicating that over one-fourth of builders have employees actively evaluating new technologies for their potential both to boost sales and serve as differentiators. New technologies such as home networking offer great opportunities for manufacturers to get in on the ground floor of the digital-home trend.”

In the Parks Associates survey, builders rate, with all basic considerations equal, which amenities make a difference in selling a house. They rank a large kitchen, a spacious master bath, and architectural elements the highest, with security systems and computer networking following and ranking significantly higher than a finished basement or a separate media room. Multiroom audio scores on a par with a separate playroom and significantly higher than a pool.

“For some time now, builders have been adding systems that enhance the digital infrastructure in their homes,” said Tricia Parks, president of Parks Associates. “It began with structured wiring and entertainment systems and has now blossomed to take advantage of the growing adoption of broadband Internet access. Consumers are beginning to expect their new homes will not only be wired for communications and entertainment but also will include some of the basic hardware. A few decades ago washers and dryers became standard. Now multiroom sound systems, computer networking, and home theaters are becoming must-have appliances.”

The study probes why builders offer, or don’t offer, various products, as well as who they use to install the systems and if they are willing to partner with other firms, such as cable TV operators or utilities, to offer these systems. In addition, builders assess the additional value home buyers place on homes with structured wiring, security systems, and various entertainment system configurations.

Parks Associates’ 2004 Builder Study also explores the factors that builders consider when selecting suppliers of non-structural products such as appliances and electronics. Name, reputation of company, and product quality outweigh pricing as top reasons builders select specific manufacturers’ products.

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