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Future perfect
Source: mydigitalfc.com Mar 30, 2011
Call them space-age homes, they are increasingly becoming the benchmark for residential properties

Buying a home is a major step in one's life - it's perhaps the most critical investment decision most people make. And a home today is much more than the conventional roof over one's head. With increasing demand for smart or space-age homes, developers are adopting new technologies to cater to the desires of a new generation of homebuyers who have the pocket to match.

The new technologies are not restricted to automated homes. The latest trend in architectural design is flexible construction. This allows the customisation of the available space according to one's requirements,

Mumbai-based Vijay Group has launched a luxury project called Orion incorporating the latest "dry wall" technology. This technology has hitherto been used mainly in commercial structures like hotels where the size of rooms can be adjusted by flexible dividers. Now it is being used in residences -- instead of concrete walls, the flexible dividers can be used to create space according to the need.

"The construction of Orion has cost us around 15 per cent more as we have introduced four levels of security surveillance, sensor-controlled lift, gate video door phone and dry walls," Gautam Thacker, director of Vijay Group, said.
CCI Projects, another Mumbai developer, is also introducing dry wall technology for its upcoming Rivali Park project.

It was always popular in the commercial sector, but now, with changing customer preferences, this technology is finding many takers. India's real estate sector is seeing a steady shift towards the adoption of dry wall technology for residential projects. "Dry wall construction gives flexibility to design the interiors," said Harjith Bubber, CEO & MD of CCI Projects.

There are many advantages of dry wall construction as it is 8-10 times lighter than conventional brick and block construction. Construction is also faster by five to eight times. It is more flexible in terms of modifications and refurbishments whenever needed.

"Rivali Park is opting for dry wall construction looking at the requirements of today's home buyers. Over the next few years, through adoption of modern construction techniques by builders and greater demand from end clients for high-performing, environment-friendly buildings, dry wall construction is set for significant growth," Bubber said.

Kolkata-based Siddhi Group says that it will soon have "one of its kind" one-room multi-facility studio apartments. Xanadu, as the developer has named it, has been inspired by the mythical summer palace of King Kublai Khan and the mystique mansion of Mandrake, and promises to offer all the amenities of a super premium HIG lifestyle  electronic access, remote illumination, bathroom with Jacuzzi, space-saver furniture, intelligent workstation, Wi-fi, broadband, phone console, power gym, spa, meditation room, nightclub, business centre, a Laundromat, round the clock house-keeping services, a 24X7 coffee shop, a convenience store, an icemaker at the end of every corridor, touchscreen security system enabling international standard security services, a miniplex, lounge bar and a splash pool.

Interestingly, the flat owners will be able to use all the facilities at no extra cost.

Sanjay Jain, joint MD of Siddha, had earlier told FC Build, "We will now take Xanadu to different tier II cities across the country. Our endeavour will be to develop Xanadu as a brand for studio apartments and smart homes. The next ports of call for Xanadu will be Jaipur, Pune, Bhubaneswar and Raipur. Siddha Group has also finalised three other locations in and around Kolkata.

The first Xanadu project at Rajarhat in the eastern fringes of the city will have 320 flats, all studio apartments of sizes varying from 500 sq ft to 600 sq ft in the price range of Rs 14-18 lakh. The project will have 10-storied buildings spread in two blocks. The ground floor and basement will be dedicated for parking, while the residential flats will start from the first floor, which will also include a lawn surrounded by the two blocks.

The demand for smart apartments are coming from "IT/ITeS employees from Sector V, F&B (food and beverage) professionals from the adjoining five-star hotels and fine-dining restaurants and corporate houses and also live-in couples, non-resident Bengalis, single parents and retired couples with senior corporate background," said Nilesh Biswas, director, Calcutta Skyline, a leading realty research, marketing and broking company.

Bangalore-based Silvan Innovation Labs has installed its home automation systems in high-end apartments at Indira Nagar, Bangalore, constructed by Value Design Build. The project, VDB Cardinal, comprises 10 apartments, each apartment having its own swimming pool.

Seema Mohta, deputy general manager (business development), VDB Cardinal, said, "Home automation systems at VDB Cardinal have been a great value addition. These have been one of the USPs for customers of Cardinal. I do not think home automation systems are meant only for high-end projects and affluent customers. At VDB, we would consider installing home automation systems in all our future projects depending on the target segment's needs."

Some of the home automation systems installed at VDB Cardinal include EPBX connection between security and the apartment, video door phone, LPG gas leak detector, and other automation systems covering security and safety aspects that come with the option to upgrade.

Avinash Gautam, VP - security & automation business, Silvan Innovation Labs, said, "We are seeing strong interest growing towards smart homes year on year in India, both from builders as well as consumers. As consumers look for possible solutions to simplify their life and minimise the time consumed in day-to-day chores, builders look at it as differentiators."

The company has developed a range of security products. For instance, if someone rings the bell when the person is not at home, the home automation system transfers the ring to the cell phone. "You can actually talk to the person outside the door, without letting him know whether you are at home or not, and if it is your near and dear one, you can remotely open the door from your cell phone," he said.

It is quite possible products such as iPads and smartphone screens can be used as user interface to control automated products at home, without the need for a separate console. As mobile phones are becoming more and more central to people's lives, it is evolving from being a communication device to an extended device, where it is taking on the avatar a home control device. An individual doesn't need to carry a separate device as a cell phone is always with him or her, Gautam explained.

With a lot of buzz around global warming and rising energy bills, there is a strong desire in bringing a change in the way we live. Solutions optimising energy consumption is one of the important things in the home automation space, he said.

There are products with which one can set a timer to water the plants automatically, electric equipment can be switched on and off without being present at home, Gautam added.

However, home automation products are not picking up in a big way in India and are restricted to high-end luxury houses as pricing is not within the budgets of most consumers, he said. Hence, Silvan Innovation has developed technologies for the Indian market indigenously. "We are seeing good traction for our products. We believe we can change the landscape in this space."

Said Ramesh Nair, MD - west India, Jones Lang LaSalle, "Given the rapid pace of change in technology, the real estate industry has to gear up for the future. Buildings will increasingly be designed around work to provide the knowledge worker of the future with incredibly fast and powerful resources. They will be filled with sensors interacting with each other, without involvement of people, to improve the efficiency and performance of buildings. Developers will realise that connectivity is crucial, appearance is less important and flexibility is the key."

Nair explained that at present we use several electrical and electronic devices at home, each with a different user interface. "By using smart home technology all these devices can be centrally controlled and have a single user interface which in turn reduces day to day maintenance and reduces energy consumption."

T Chitty Babu, chairman & CEO of Akshaya Homes, a Chennai-based developer, says his company has been working on smart home projects. Said he, "Technology is all-pervasive today and has permeated into home design. Smart homes connect all devices and appliances in a house so they can communicate with each other. Anything in a home that uses electricity can be put on the home network. Whether one gives that command by voice, remote control or computer, the home reacts. Most applications relate to lighting, home security, home theatre and entertainment and thermostat regulation."

He added, "We have delivered the first smart home in Chennai. Our project 'Aikya' in Adyar in Chennai, has been provided with smart devices that can be control the lighting, air-conditioning and the security of the apartment through a single console."

Chitty Babu explains that smart homes have various benefits. "One can control the temperature in the house, dim lights, control the volume of the audio-video system from any room, heaters in the bathroom can be programmed to come on automatically at a pre-defined time so that the water is warm when you enter. Most smart home products are designed to save on energy. Another benefit is security. Using smart devices one can light up the entire home if motion is detected and also send alerts through e-mail when there is a motion in the house when there should not be any. Or the security system can call you if there is an alarm. You can also view your home even when you are not there using smart devises."

The demand for such homes is on the rise especially from tech savvy people. Cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi-NCR and Mumbai are seeing smart homes being launched in a big way, Chitty Babu said.

Tag: Real estate in india, property in india, indian properties
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