This month’s issue includes stories about three unfilled market niches that are significant opportunities for builders: culturally aware housing, live-work housing, and Missing Middle Housing.
Delivering Tomorrow?s Technology Solutions Today
Pinehills builders has bundled high-speed Internet access, satellite TV (from DIRECTV) and telephone services in packages that give all their homeowners the options they want now, and may want in the future.
|QuickNetwork panels from FutureSmart offer room for expansion and customization, allowing homeowners to easily route and re-route signals to the desired rooms.
Not far from where the Mayflower first landed in America nearly 400 years ago, one builder is charting a new technological course in order to secure a rock-solid future. At The Pinehills in Plymouth, Mass. (see story on page 100), The Green Companies is offering all the latest home automation and technological services in one bundle through one company, ready for homeowners on move-in day.
"We’re the first community in our area of the country to offer this type of technology package in this way," says Dan Green, vice president of The Green Companies of Newton Centre, Mass. "When customers see what we’re offering, we hope they will associate us with cutting-edge technology focused on serving them."
What the developer of The Pinehills, L.L.C. has done is work with Verizon -- the local phone company -- to bundle high-speed Internet access, satellite TV (from DIRECTV) and telephone services in packages that give all their homeowners the options they want now, and may want in the future. This makes it easier for Pinehills builders to provide the services each individual household demands.
"With a bundled marketing package such as this, a builder can tout these services as ready and waiting for the buyer. There is no need for a person to contact all the different utilities and service providers to get hooked up as they’re moving in," says Terry Young, director for New York-based Verizon.
This also represents a first for Verizon. Young says the company has never targeted single-family housing communities. Only residents of apartment complexes or condominiums had these options, but with the success of The Pinehills project, the company is looking to grow the single-family market.
FutureSmart of Murray, Utah manufactures the actual equipment and hardware The Green Companies has chosen to deliver these services to each individual home. Green says he chose this brand because it is user-friendly and offers more options both for today’s technology and future applications.
"FutureSmart has the customer in mind, whereas it seems other companies consider only the technology," says Green. "All of their promotional materials are simplified and straightforward -- perfect for our empty-nester target market. And the equipment is not intimidating, it is very intuitive and easy to use."
The QuickNetwork series of distribution panels Green is using are designed specifically for production builders, and are installed through one of FutureSmart’s trade partners. Green says this means if there are any problems with the equipment, then the company will come back and fix it. There are no issues of improper installation voiding any warranties.
"Our relationship with our trade partners is a turnkey solution for builders," says Gary Tanner, director of sales, eastern division for FutureSmart. "This keeps the builder’s costs down and ensures proper installation."
The distribution panels receive all incoming electronic signals and allow the homeowner to easily route and re-route the signals to any location within the home. The SpeedWrap cable is easy to install and maintain, and includes two RG6 coax cables, Category 5e twisted pair cable and two fiber optic cables. Multi-media wall receptacles come with two, three, four or six ports, depending upon the homeowner’s needs and desires. The modular configuration of the distribution panels means that if a homeowner’s needs change, or if any technology becomes obsolete, it can be easily popped out and replaced.
"We designed this system to be easy to install, user-friendly and expandable," says Tanner. "We also designed it with an open protocol, which means it will work with any company’s technology, such as if a homeowner is familiar and comfortable with one particular security system and would like that one installed instead of ours."
All of this means that in a community where the nation’s oldest continually used dirt road cuts through the middle of the parcel, the Pinehills, L.L.C. is paving their own lane of the information superhighway. "What we’re offering isn’t a necessity for the marketplace at this time," says Green. "But it is a great way for us to distinguish our company by providing the features of the future."