The role of smart technology in modern construction

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Mark Seaman, head of Samsung B2B Integrated Offering Team, looks at the increasing demands being placed on developers to make sure their buildings really meet the requirements of today’s occupants, and how smart technology can help

In 2024 Lloyds Banking Group is expecting 150,000 construction starts. That’s a lot of buildings going up around the UK, and each one has to meet not only regulations and building codes, but also respond to the expectations of future residents.

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But how can developers make sure that they’re building residences that will not only satisfy customers but that give them a competitive edge?

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Connectivity underpins everything

Smart technology is advancing at an ever more rapid pace. Whether we’re talking about harnessing the power of generative AI, considering how we can save energy and time with appliances, or just making sure that laptops, TVs and gaming consoles are online, there’s one concept that underpins everything—connectivity.

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Without proper connectivity, it’s impossible to take advantage of all the benefits of modern smart technology—something that today’s consumers expect as a bare minimum.

For developers, this means that it’s never been more important to plan and build residences that take a digital-first approach, consider an increasingly online world, and ensure that homes meet requirements.

But what needs to be connected?

The smart home movement is gathering pace. In fact, when Samsung asked people considering a move what they were looking for, a staggering 86% said that they would be willing to pay a premium for a smart home, with some even being prepared to pay as much as 6.5% higher than the average sale price of a UK home.

Whereas in the past connectivity may have just meant being able to access wifi in every room, the consumer demand for smart homes is taking this to a whole new level.

Smart homes mean a full ecosystem of interconnected devices, all playing a vital role in the way a home is enjoyed.

Appliances range from smart fridges that can create shopping lists, monitor and change the temperature in the appliance and even provide recipes and stream TV shows; to washing machines that can analyse the items placed in them, making sure that they get the right wash; through to vacuums and other appliances around the home that make chores easier.

But all of these need the right connectivity and compatibility, which must be considered from the start of planning a new residence. Developers wanting to stand out from the crowd must offer consumers the ability to utilise all the latest technology and plan for a networked home.

Is it just about housework?

While the smart home movement makes life easier around the home, there’s more to it than that. When we spoke to our customers, we found that 71% were also concerned about energy efficiency, saying it’s a key factor when considering a smart home.

What’s more, Smart Energy devices led the online search category when compared to lifestyle, home and security. In fact, half of all UK smart technology searches featured the phrase ‘smart energy’.

While we may have passed a peak of soaring energy costs; sustainability and green living are still topics that concern consumers who want to save money and energy while still enjoying their homes.

Smart appliances can play a significant role in this. In 2024, Samsung partnered with British Gas to integrate SmartThings Energy with British Gas’ PeakSave incentive program.

This helps users make their homes more energy efficient with less intervention. Smart appliances can understand their usage patterns and the right times to take advantage of off-peak energy rates, planning operating times to coincide and save energy and therefore money.

This adds another layer to developers’ planning of buildings that are energy-conscious and energy-efficient, enabling smart devices that take the load off consumers.

Is smart technology only for residents?

A smart residence doesn’t only benefit the people living there. In fact, people looking to own and operate rental properties should also be aware of smart living and technology.

Of course, providing the right appliances will make properties more attractive to renters and buyers, but prospective and current landlords should also realise the benefits of smart appliances when it comes to maintenance.

Predictive maintenance is not a new topic when it comes to things like cars, which can notify their users when they’re ready for a service.

Smart appliances in the home can also send regular reports to landlords and property managers, informing them if there’s an issue or if they need to be serviced.

This saves time and money as problems can be tackled before they become serious and engineers can arrive with the correct parts, knowing what they’ll be working on.

In the build-to-rent market, the right technology and connectivity can help landlords and managers save considerable time and money down the line, keeping occupants happy and reducing complaints.

Making this a reality

Of course, it’s not always as simple as just knowing what consumers want and then building it. Developers and homebuilders are under a lot of pressure to build properties that meet standards, conform to environmental regulations and keep their costs down.

Most developers aren’t necessarily technologists, meaning that even if they know they have to take a tech- and digital-first approach, they may not know how. This is where partnerships can come in.

By working with a partner who really understands not only the needs of potential occupants but also how to meet them, developers can save themselves a lot of difficulty. A partner should be involved from the beginning of the project if possible, but definitely, if buildings are being revamped and retrofitted.

The right partner can also provide appliances and even offer financial packages to make sure that costs are kept down and that consumers have appliances they can trust.

It may seem that the constant march of technology poses a tough hill to climb and that consumers simply want more and more.

However, with the right planning and consideration of how technology intersects with bricks and mortar, developers can not only get ahead of their competitors, offering homes which are modern, attractive to occupants and connected, they can stay there, keeping residents happy and buildings at the cutting edge.

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