Notes from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies

Ed Wenck | Jun 18, 2019
For the past decade, CEDIA has been representing the home technology field at the annual session on remodeling trends at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. (CEDIA’s found that as goes remodeling, so goes technology integration — it’s about discretionary dollars being used to upgrade the home.) Walt Zerbe, CEDIA’s senior director of technology and standards, participated in the most recent conference there, taking notes and supplying answers to tech questions attendees might have.
For a variety of reasons, remodeling is booming, “and as you’d expect, kitchens and bath are the big movers in this regard,” says Zerbe.
“We've identified the kitchen as a hyper-connected space, with network demands on everything in space growing rapidly,” Zerbe continues. “And bathrooms may be soon following suit since people spend a lot of time getting ready. We've got tech for relaxing, for wellness, for listening to the news, chilling out with lighting temperature, and so on.”

The event also included demographic info.

“In addition to the manufacturers and builders, Google was there,” says Zerbe, and they had a lot of stats on the habits of millennials in this regard.
“One example: 66% of millennials will start a project as a do-it-yourself — and then hire someone to finish the job. So, they'll start the project, then, ‘Oh gosh, this was a lot more difficult than I realized,’ and then, they'll go out and hire professionals.
“Online reviews are really important when it comes to hiring process for this demographic, too: 65% of millennials won't hire a contractor that has less than a four-star rating,” notes Zerbe.
Zerbe also encountered a remodeler based in California who understands the customer’s current demand for rapid response.
“First of all, he’s open seven days a week, and when they a get customer inquiry, they respond immediately because what they have found out is that Amazon has set a lot of these expectations.”
“His firm has set up texting and other online methods for response, and are relying far less on the phone so that they can interact with the way people like to do business.And while a job’s in progress, says Zerbe, “They leave QR codes all over the job site. They leave little cards around, you just pick one up, point your phone at it, brings his company’s homepage page right up, you can answer a few simple questions — boom, he's got his feedback before they even get to the stage of face-to-face discussion of a punch list.”