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Hi-tech homes: What is the future for property construction and technology?

Published Apr 24, 2020 – 4 mins read

Whether it is newly built or hundreds of years old, homes these days artfully combine elements of construction with modern technology. At house buying agent Garrington Property Finders, we find hi-tech homes that already feature those elements and, others which are ripe for conversion.

Here are just some of the interesting developments we have identified.

Housing

The force of necessity is driving much of the innovation in housebuilding in the UK.

Given the current shortage of housing, government targets for the delivery of new homes are ambitious – a planned 300,000 in 2018, for example. That target notwithstanding, only 230,000 new homes were actually built. And even 250,000 looks to remain an ambitious target for future years.

Chasing targets such as this, the housebuilding industry has had to come up with new, faster and more cost-effective ways of delivering new homes, including some of the following.

Modular homes

Modular homes are a prime example of modern methods of construction (MMC). They are produced in factories, prefabricated and erected on site. Cutting-edge technology and automated or robotic production ensure high quality, consistent standards, and above all, speed.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) describes these methods as the forward-thinking solution to the current housing shortage in the UK.

Modern methods of construction are not only delivered new housing faster and more cost-effectively but that the standards of construction tended to be higher and with fewer defects being reported. This is helping to win over agencies which had previously expressed doubts about the durability and quality of such housing – namely, mortgage finance providers and insurance companies.

Confidence in modular housing as the way forward is expressed by the level of investment in modern methods of construction. A recent example is evidenced by the £19 million investment by property magnates Reuben Brothers in modular housebuilder Project Etopia – which incorporates other high-tech features such as intelligent heating and cooling systems into its homes.

Flat-pack homes

The modular approach probably meets its zenith in so-called flat-pack homes. And who better to be leading the way than the icon of such prefabrication than Ikea?

The Swedish giant of all things flat-packed has joined forces with the construction company, Skanska to build homes at its factories in Estonia and Sweden before shipping the flat-packed products to the UK, where Bristol is one of the first cities in the country to see some of the fruits of its work.

Over the past 20 years’ or so, the partnership has erected around 12,000 of these low-cost homes in various parts of Scandinavia.

Ikea is also at the forefront of developing ways in which new homes can become “smarter”.

Eco-friendly and self-sustaining homes

For all the talk of low-cost modular housing to beat the current housing shortage, don’t run away with the idea that innovation in property construction and the use of advanced technology only results in homes at the lower end of the market.

The artful combination of construction techniques and cutting-edge technology is also employed to create architecturally impressive eco-friendly and self-sustaining homes – and many of these sell at a substantial premium.

Your property finders will also be alert to government efforts to ensure that homes in the future meet more rigorous eco-friendly and energy-efficient standards. These are included in amendments to the official Future Homes Standard about which the government is currently consulting the housebuilding industry for homes to be built from 2020 onwards.

Official efforts are also taking place against a background in which planning rules are also being significantly relaxed. Under extended “permitted development rights”, householders may now add a two-storey extension to their home without the need for full planning permission.

With the future in mind, a property finder can help you find a hi-tech home or one that is ripe for the additions of technology to make it more eco-friendly and as self-sustaining as possible.

In the home

Quality design and the benefits of modern technology do not stop with the exterior of the home, of course, but are also crucial elements to the comfort and sense of luxury you are likely to find within it.

Indeed, we have previously written about buying a “smart” home, which uses the currently available technology and design to create a prestigious family property over which you might exercise effortless control.

There are many eco-friendly, energy-saving technologies that industry professionals expect to become standard in houses built over the next 20 years’ or so.

These include moves towards low-carbon or “clean” energy consumption, hi-tech energy management systems that link energy use throughout the home, support for more energy-efficient living through the application of Building Regulations, and the development of ventilation systems which both cool the home but also improve the air quality within it, at the same time mitigating problems with condensation.

Some of those innovations may be in use sooner than you think. In terms of energy use and management, for example, the government has already recognised the value of electric cars in pursuit of its zero-emissions goals. That has led to a ruling that all new homes in the future must incorporate an electric charging point for the vehicle.

Summary

The artful combination of innovative construction techniques and modern technology is changing the face of the property industry and the homes in which we live our lives.

Some of those changes have been propelled through the force of necessity in meeting burgeoning demand for new housing, but much of it is also directed towards the higher, more exclusive reaches of the market, where eco-friendly sustainability also comes at a premium.

If you’re looking for a hi-tech home, find out how we at Garrington can help guide your search, why not give us a call today on +44 (0)207 099 2773?