According to the geeks at Wired Magazine this week, it’s technolust that spurred the housing boom. It seems wiring that 1920s bungalow to support the plethora of new-fangled doodads is just too much work so people are “looking for something cheaper, bigger, gadgetier, or merely free of other people’s cooties, [and] builders responded to that new demand. They built lots of homes and packed them with every new gewgaw a potential buyer might dream of.” According to Wired’s data, 74 percent of buyers want new construction.
Sitting on most of Seattle’s best real estate are plenty of tired homes and an innovative architect could find ways to make new technology work in the bones of old construction. Most basements I’ve seen have plenty of room for a server rack and if you’re going to pull down lath and plaster, might as well upgrade the electrical because while gadgets are going smaller and wireless they still need power.
Ironically a lot of the new construction I’ve seen doesn’t really look at all like an eHome. They seem to think stainless appliances and granite countertops are sufficient! Even hip high end condos are sorely disappointing on the technology front. I need a way to control temperature, lighting, sound, and video in every room at a minimum. The place should be fully wired with in-wall speakers pumping out my 200 Gigs of tunes and I should be able to get my videos and photos to display on every flat panel TV. Bonus points if I can control the house from my cell phone.
I’m not sure I buy that technophiles caused the housing boom but I do think there will be big changes in home building in the next ten years. “At MIT, architecture professor Kent Larson is working on designs in which the bones of a house — a skeleton of studs, beams, and trusses — are like the chassis of a car or a PC, and linked components like sensors and A/V equipment slot into integrated receptacles… ‘You’d move away from conventional construction, and builders would become assemblers,’ Larson says.”