It’s always exciting to see the latest technology for the home, and now you have the chance to experience it all for yourself as the HGTV Smart Home 2016 Giveaway kicks off today!
You can enter the HGTV® Smart Home 2016 Giveaway online twice per day between April 12 and June 2, 2016. Not only will you win this beautiful home, you’ll win a new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC and $100,000 provided by national mortgage lender Quicken Loans, for a grand-prize package valued at over $1.2 million.
I had a chance to get an insider perspective from this year’s project manager, Scott Branscom, on what makes the house special from the interior to the exterior and the latest technological advances this year’s winner will enjoy in their new home.
Why was Raleigh, North Carolina, chosen as the site of this year’s HGTV Smart Home? What makes this area attractive to future homeowners?
Raleigh is located in the Research Triangle Park (RTP) area of North Carolina – a tech hub for the region and the U.S. RTP draws people in from all over the world to work in the wide array of technological fields. This makes it the perfect location for a tech-savvy smart home.
How does the process of designing the HGTV Smart Home begin? Are architects, environmental specialists and interior designers working together from the beginning?
The process begins with the HGTV build team, the architect and the builder meeting prior to construction to discuss and select the best environmentally conscious construction practices and products. In this instance, it was fairly easy because the builder is a certified green builder and has been recognized for green building practices.
The development of the construction plan includes reducing site disturbance, reducing/recycling building materials, reducing energy consumption and insulating and sealing the envelope of the home. After this plan has been developed, the interior designer joins the process. The entire team works hand in hand with the designer to select materials that are considered environmentally responsible.
What was the inspiration for the floor plans, and did the external environment play a role in defining the best use of each space?
The floor plan was designed to be open and family friendly but also give the homeowner space to get away when needed. There is a large protected wooded area in the rear of the home that is absolutely beautiful. We wanted to make sure that the view of the woods could be seen from as many rooms as possible. In doing so, we created two outdoor living areas in the rear of the home to take advantage of the view.
“Inspiring bold ideas” is Raleigh’s mantra. How did you combine the traditional Southern aspects of Raleigh’s communities with the modern design and amenities that a smart home requires?
The exterior of the home was designed to fit into the traditional Southern community and complement the existing homes in the neighborhood without matching them. The home’s exterior Southern features include a large front porch, craftsman style columns and shake and lap siding. The great thing about being a smart home is that is does not have to look different on the interior or exterior. The “brains” and required wiring are tucked away behind walls or in a centrally located smart hub. Part of the charm of Raleigh’s community lies in its natural beauty. There are several modern technological features in the home that allow the homeowner to bring the outdoors in, such as the use of many skylights that are operable by remote control and screens that open and close via remotes in the screened porch on the rear of the home.
What types of challenges did your team face during construction to make the house smart and green?
As a project manager and builder, I am always concerned about the amount of waste that is generated during construction. It’s not uncommon to see many job sites with large waste containers in the yard that are full of construction materials. The challenge is to develop a cohesive and workable plan to control waste. We developed a building plan that incorporated pre-cut and engineered lumber so that waste lumber was minimal and what was determined to be waste was sent to a local recycling facility.
One of the next hurdles we have to clear is reducing energy use once the home is occupied. This can be accomplished by sealing the envelope of the home, installing the highest R-value insulation, designing and implementing a well-thought-out HVAC system, installing tankless water heaters and using LED or CFL lighting. In a smart home, this is all integrated so it can achieve the most energy savings.
What is your favorite room in the house, and what are the elements that make it so special?
I am an outdoor person, so my favorite room is actually outside of the home – the covered rear deck. Although the room is outside, it is still integrated into the home’s smart technology. While on the deck, you can turn on the ceiling fans, operate the lights, open and close the skylights and skylight shades, turn on the fireplace or open and close the screens (installed to control the UV light and bugs). You are totally in control of the room while outdoors, and you have a great view of the woods in the rear of the home.
What are some of the high-tech features in this year’s HGTV Smart Home, and what technology are you most excited about?
The home has smart gym equipment in the exercise room; several of the TVs are concealed behind mirrors; and the music, lighting, HVAC, blinds, skylights, garage door openers and security system are all controlled through a central and integrated system. I can’t say that I have one favorite smart home feature; but rather, all of the features integrated into one easy-to-use system is what I have enjoyed the most.
With all of this technology, how are the home’s systems secured, and are they mobile-friendly?
The home’s smart features are protected by a firewall and passwords – just like any home computer. You can operate the entire HGTV Smart Home 2016 from a mobile device.
What aspects of the inside and outside do you hope the winner of the HGTV Smart Home 2016 will utilize or appreciate most?
I hope the new homeowners will appreciate how efficient and secure a smart home can make their lives. They will be able to control the home’s features easily and also control their energy bills, meaning more time and money toward enjoying family and friends in their beautiful, new home. The home is very family friendly, and I can see them enjoying many comfortable evenings on the rear deck, watching a movie in the media room or getting in shape together in the exercise room.
What are some ways homeowners across the country can implement smart-home technology in their homes and in a budget-friendly way?
I think that technology scares a lot of people because they do not understand it. Our goal is to show people that turning a regular home into a smart home is not difficult. There are many central control systems on the market that homeowners can easily add to their wireless modem. The wireless controls can be added to light switches or outlets at any time. Also, just about any new electronics come with wireless capabilities and apps that you can add to the system. If you can operate a smart mobile device, you can install and operate a smart home!
Don’t forget to enter the HGTV Smart Home 2016 Giveaway online twice per day April 12 through 5:00 p.m. ET on June 2, 2016.
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