An abundance of audio/video technologies on this year’s CEDIA show floor showcase that the demand of having a dedicated home theater is still on the mind of many luxury homebuyers.
What does this mean for luxury homebuilders who may be hesitant to pull the trigger on such a huge endeavor?
“During the recession, there was a lot of talk about home theaters going away. People were saying they were no longer necessary and were migrating towards media rooms,” says Doug Johnson, director of relationship marketing and development at Kinetics Noise Control. “But this is no longer the case. It is something that buyers want and need.”
For luxury homebuilders, home theater demand is something that could prove greatly beneficial to their bottom line. However, if executed incorrectly, it could also have a negative impact on business.
Johnson outlines what luxury builders need to consider in both spec homes and custom projects, from elements of initial construction and planning to the integration of A/V technologies.
Space, Look and Feel
The personal touches of a home theater are important to the buyer, and this needs to be strongly reflected on by builders, and in different ways depending on whether the home is spec or custom.
“In a spec home, builders don’t want to invest a ton of money into specific treatments, because it may not fit the look and feel of a buyer,” says Johnson.
What builders want to accomplish, at a minimum, is for clients to enter the room and immediately recognize it as a home theater. This means taking into account the size of the room, including the distribution of space and overall theater dimensions.
Johnson specifically notes that builders need to pay attention to minimizing “room modes,” dead spots in a room where sound pressure becomes unbalanced. “If you have the opportunity to tweak the dimensions of the room in order to make sound better, do it,” says Johnson.
Acoustical Treatments and Soundproofing
Johnson specializes in sound with his business, and stresses that acoustics need to be considered immediately, regardless of whether it is a spec or custom home.
“Especially in luxury, considering soundproofing technology is a true benefit,” says Johnson. “When somebody invests this type of money into an audio system, they really can’t enjoy it if the sound is infiltrating other parts of the house.”
In both the cases of spec and custom, soundproofing should be thought out in the budget.
Integrators and Installation
While space consideration and acoustical treatments are important, the home theater is essentially just an empty, useless space without all the A/V technology within.
But here’s the problem … luxury buyers all have different tastes.
“You could have somebody who wants to spent 100 grand on a theater, and another person will spend half a million. It’s all about their personal passions,” says Johnson.
Similar to the personal nuances of look and feel, technology is very individual to the buyer as well. Johnson states the best solution for builders is to work with a trusted A/V integrator and ensure the room is pre-wired for whatever technology the buyer may want.
“As long as you have the shell and framework for a home theater, that’s key. Be flexible. Don’t over invest in technology that could turn somebody off, or under invest and come up short,” concludes Johnson.
Remember, it’s all about the client. Buyers and integrators should communicate directly about specific technology—screens, projectors, sound, seating, lighting and everything in between.
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