Q&A: Ask a smart home builder

The home features options to integrate smart home technology.

The home features options to integrate smart home technology.

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A local home expert answers questions about the smart-home technology trend that is happening in and around The Woodlands.

Alberto Garcia
Founder of Woodlands-based company Smart Tech USA

What are a few options for homeowners wanting to integrate more technology in their homes?
We provide smart technology for residential and commercial spaces, also for luxury transportation—cars, boats and jets. Everything is custom-built. … It’s nice to come home and touch a screen on your smartphone or tablet and the lights dim 30 percent, the shades open, and the coffee is ready. Everything is electronically controlled and is automated.

How much does it cost to create a smart home in The Woodlands?
Everything is custom-made. I can choose $1,000 speakers if I want or $30 speakers. It depends on the client and what you are installing. You can have four basic cameras or 50 state-of-the-art cameras with fiber optics. In The Woodlands people usually invest around 5 percent of the value of the home, so if a house is $500,000 then people will invest approximately $25,000.

How many homeowners in The Woodlands are choosing to integrate smart home technology?
We have clients—for instance, [in the] Carlton Woods [neighborhood]. It is the nicest area, and the homes start upwards of $1 million. I would say 35 percent of them have installed smart home technology. In the main area of The Woodlands it’s not more than 20 percent, but the trend is going up. Right now, there are a lot of high rises developing in the Houston [and] Galleria area, and most are prewired for smart technology.

What have you noticed about residential development trends in regard to smart technology?
There is a trend to build a home ready with smart technology nowadays. You have to put an added value to whatever you are building. By “ready” we mean prewired so that whatever you choose may be installed easily. It’s better to do this in the building stage—nobody will enjoy calling the contractor to say, “Cut a hole here, cut a hole there so we can make this a smart home.”

Benefits of a smart home

A smart home is a residence outfitted with devices that can communicate with each other and be operated remotely by its owner. Smart technology can be used in video entertainment, lighting, thermostats and security.

Energy efficiency:
Smart devices minimize energy waste and help homeowners conserve electricity, water and natural gas. Lights and fans turn off automatically when a room is vacant, and ovens and burners can be shut off remotely.

Security and surveillance:
A smart home can be outfitted with cameras, alarms, door locks, motion detectors and  links to local police stations. The homeowner can be alerted if the camera detects movement inside the house.

Many gadgets can be controlled using a tablet or smart phone.


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