Lennar is getting ready for a major shift, both internally and industry-wide, after being one of just three national homebuilders hand picked by Apple to offer HomeKit as standard.
As details are slowly being revealed about the HomeKit platform and the standalone “Home” app for mobile devices, questions must be asked about how builders will play into the mix.
Key details regarding builder inclusion in HomeKit integration were buried in an iOS 10 announcement, this month. It revealed that high-profile builders Lennar, KB Home and Brookfield Residential will preinstall a full range of HomeKit technology as standard later this year.
“[Including HomeKit as standard] will start to inform a whole new way of living where, from the palm of your hand, you can control your home. But your home is also intelligent enough to control itself … in a way that the existing home can’t currently do without a whole lot of work,” says David Kaiserman, president of Lennar Ventures.
It seems from the naked eye that Apple HomeKit is finally aiming to make a significant imprint on an industry that has watched, for nearly two years, while the company has slowly adapted new technologies—mainly due to what they’re calling an extensive testing process.
But do we really know how well this platform, that’s been under wraps, is going to work and whether the industry is even prepared for this type of technology?
Lennar Points to Trusted Devices and Standard Offerings
Kaiserman finds comfort in knowing that Lennar already works with most of the manufacturers who have partnered with Apple on HomeKit.
“It really was those manufacturers that we, in the homebuilding industry, have deep relationships with and key experiences with. They started to bring to our attention this unique opportunity,” he says.
Lennar installs Honeywell, Lutron, Schlage and Trane, just to name a few, in many of its communities. Kaiserman argues the aforementioned brands are already present, powerful and successful in the marketplace.
The question, now, is whether HomeKit and the Home app will seamlessly work with these major TecHome players. Ultimately, this responsibility lies in the hands of Apple.
Kaiserman says this interoperability challenge begins to be alleviated once these devices are included as standard.
“If you think about the biggest obstacle in terms of adopting home automation, it has been the complexity—whether perceived or otherwise—of installing things such as a new thermostat or a new door lock,” he says.
“When you buy a new home, and things are included in that home as standard, that complexity goes away.”
The primary question to ask, according to Kaiserman, is “How do you control all of these things through an application?” and ultimately, this relies on whether the HomeKit application is tested and ready.
At this point, Kaiserman doesn’t have any apprehensions about Apple’s abilities.
Adrian Foley, COO of one of Apple’s other chosen homebuilders, Brookfield Residential, doesn’t have any qualms about using the system either.
Brookfield Residential issued the following statement to TecHome Builder regarding its selection to the builder program:
“One of the biggest innovative opportunities we see is the ability to offer technology that both adds joy and convenience and also makes a home more energy-efficient. Apple HomeKit and the new Home app in iOS embody those principles by offering a simple, secure and convenient way to control home automation products such as your lights, door locks or thermostats.”
TecHome also reached out to KB Home for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Other Apple Users Weigh In
This Apple announcement does leave questions for the builders who weren’t chosen and have been installing Apple products in their projects.
Chad Williams of Pepper Viner Homes currently includes iPad Minis as standard in his Tucson, Arizona subdivisions, working directing with a local Apple store in order to implement the devices.
“We consider it a flagship of our company,” says Williams, who would love to be considered as Apple moves forward with its builder program.
For now, he believes the reason Apple has created this particular program is to test products before sending them out to the masses. But he wonders how long it will actually take. “That’s a long process if you’re getting builders, now, to do it. From sales to closing, if your build cycle is something like five to nine months, it’s going to take a while to get that feedback,” says Williams.
A Natural Movement for the Industry
Feedback aside, Kaiserman argues that Apple’s plans are “a natural movement” for the industry.
Lennar, KB Home, Brookfield Residential and so many others in this ecosystem will represent an extremely transformational channel for these new technologies, especially when they’re included as standard.
Kaiserman says this practice eliminates customer acquisition costs, makes installation more efficient and provides homeowners with the easiest pathway possible for embracing tech.
And once all is said and done, the potential for industry revolution is powerful. “I would say that for our audience in homebuilding, we are at the center of an opportunity where the channel in which we work is meaningful and very, very actionable,” says Kaiserman.
This is, of course, dependent on whether the installation of systems such as these is successful. Otherwise, we risk sidelining home technology’s potential.
We’ll let the homebuyers be the judge …
What are your thoughts on the Apple builder program, devices versus platforms and the industry shift towards technology as standard? Let us know your take in the comment section below.
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