August 22, 2016 The Code Solution

Should your next building be smart?

When I first heard about automated homes, also known as smart homes, the Disney movie Smart House immediately came to mind. For those of you who have seen the movie and all its cheesiness, you will remember that it was about a boy who programmed their smart home to be a surrogate mother, and it didn’t go so well.

After 17 years, the technology that didn’t go so well for the family in Smart House, is gaining increased popularity with homeowners, renters, real estate developers, and landlords too. For this reason, I am here to tell you why smart buildings are awesome, and not at all scary.

What is a smart building?

For starters, automated control of building-wide systems is not a new technology or concept. However, the type of automation known to past generations was very limiting and only accessible from stagnant control points within a building itself.

Now, the concept is an entirely different animal. Today’s smart building technology makes use of the Internet of Things (IoT) by assigning devices an IP address so that they can communicate, send you information, and take your commands. With the implementation of IoT, any device can be monitored and accessed remotely, without the need for pesky wires.

tangeled wires

What Can Be Automated?

Simply put – anything. Anything that can be connected to a network can be automated and controlled remotely. The most common types of devices to be used for this purpose are simple binary devices. These types of devices only have two functions, “on and off.” Examples of binary devices include lights, power outlets, electronic locks, and security sensors, which only have two functions; open and close.

Another type of device that is gaining popularity is an internet-enabled or “smart” device. The most common control unit for smart devices used to be the desktop computer, however, today’s systems are more likely to be controlled by a user-friendly app that can be accessed from a PC, smartphone, or tablet. 

The benefits of the Internet of Things are endless because they are not just simple gadgets. They are thoughtful devices that communicate with one another. For instance, you may have noticed that your phone notifies you when it’s time to leave for a meeting based on traffic conditions and then provides you with real-time alternate routes. Imagine applying that same intelligence to various objects in your home. As your arrive, your home could automatically disarm your alarm system, open your garage, adjust the temperature, and if it’s dark outside, turn on the lights as you walk into different rooms.

smart devices

Who Can Use It?

Before talking about who can use the technology, it is important to clarify that the technology, more commonly known as home automation, is not just for the “home.” In fact, the technology can be used for both multi-residential and commercial spaces. Therefore, essentially anyone with a “space” and an internet connection can benefit from the technology.

So you’re probably wondering who specifically can benefit from the use of home automation?

  1. Renters: this technology is great for renters because it is easy to install. Most products do not require hard wiring, drilling, or wall panels that would cause a headache for yourself and/or your landlord.
  1. Landlords, Property Managers, and Developers: home automation technology is also beneficial for landlords and developers to consider. Adding home automation features to a building can improve its marketability and allow you to monitor costs, safety, security, and more.
  1. Homeowners: This is also a great tool for homeowners to protect and preserve their home. Some homeowners worry about the cost of installing all of these gadgets and leaving them once they move but when homeowners are ready to move, the devices can easily be packed up and installed in their new space.

Why It’s Awesome

In response to the rising popularity of these smart devices, manufacturers have developed their own line of products such as motion sensors, power outlet monitors, sprinkler controllers, smart thermostats, moisture sensors, surveillance cameras, and more!

Whether you are a landlord, real estate developer, renter, or homeowner, there are numerous benefits and uses of smart building technology. Let’s break them down into a few of the general benefits and uses.

Safety & Security:

Safety and Security is the most common reason why homeowners, renters, and landlords invest in a smart building system. With IoT technology, you are able to control locks, power outlets, and appliances from anywhere, with the touch of a button. There is also the option to set up surveillance cameras and motion sensors so that you can monitor your space(s) when you are away. Another useful sensor is the SmartThings Multi Sensor, which monitors temperature and vibration to provide an alert, for example, when valuable items have been accessed or moved.


Smart building technology also provides the user the convenience of being able to control appliances, fixtures, and gadgets. For example, you can set your lights to automatically turn on and off on a schedule, or when you come and go. You can customize virtually any system to your needs, such as setting a timer for your pet feeder or Crock Pot to turn on, with smart power outlets.

Control & Monitor:

Another great benefit of smart building technology is the ability to not only control when certain appliances or fixtures are in use, but to also monitor energy usage, cost, and potential risk. For example, the Nest Thermostat is programmable and helps you monitor energy usage and save on energy costs. You can also use the technology to monitor potential risks, such as installing a water leak sensor on any surface that is prone to flooding or a smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm.

water faucet

With any hot technology, there will be many players competing for the number one spot. With so many solutions, it can get a little confusing when deciding which device or system is right for your needs. For example, you may like a smart thermostat from one company, and a motion sensor from another. Therefore, it is important to know which devices will work well together if different companies manufacture them.

This is when a smart building/home automation consultant comes into the picture. 

Home Automation Consultant Feature: Tavvy

Tavvy (short for tech savvy) is an early stage startup that provides building owners, landlords, developers, and tenants with customized smart home solutions through advice, installation, configuration, and support. Their key applications include safety, security, convenience, entertainment, energy efficiency and damage control.

We caught up with Tavvy’s founder, Marcel Iglesias to talk about smart home technology and how he is bringing affordable smart home solutions to the mainstream consumer market.

How do you differ from the other smart building technology providers?

What sets us apart from other providers is our focus on IoT, which brings smarter products with enhanced features at overall reduced costs. Also, we are not incentivized by a particular family of products; therefore, we can provide a truly unbiased offering best suited to your needs.

Who is your ideal client?

Those in the process of buying a new home or renovating their current property are the best customers as they already have money set aside for future enhancements. For example, this would be a great solution for a tenant improvements project. Having said that, these solutions are scalable, so you don’t need to buy everything in one shot. You can ease into it with one or two products then add on later as you get more comfortable with the experience.

However, it is important to think about how you would like to scale early on to ensure compatibility with future purchases since we are years away from a standardized industry that is fully “plug-n-play” ready. Rest assured, we’re here to help at every step in the process.

What is your role and what is the responsibility of the user after installation of the smart devices?

We are involved in the entire process from concept to installation and support. We also advise the client on the most optimal solution best suited to their needs and wallets; hence, we will not recommend products with technologies that are not likely to succeed in the market.

Security tends to be our client’s main concern while thermostats are the most popular products due to cost savings gained from energy efficiencies.

How much, on average, would a typical smart building system cost?

There is often a premium when a new technology hits the market, so the individual smart products you buy will be more expensive than their predecessor. However, when you think about the system as a whole, you will notice considerable savings versus traditional costs.

While the basic needs are similar between our clients, the size of the property and customized implementations are what drive the costs. The most common home automation system is a mix of smart thermostats, security cameras, motion sensors, open/close sensors, light dimmers, light switch controllers, and door locks. Most users spend an average of $1300 on this type of system, but the cost can range from $500 to $2300 depending on the type of products they choose.

Is this a solution that will generate ROI given the cost of the technology or is it more of an investment?

Whether or not it adds value to your home, the returns gained from investing in these solutions include increased security and safety, greater energy efficiency, minimized damage, and added convenience.

This ROI is priceless to the 1 in 36 homeowners who are burglarized every year at an average loss of $2230. Also, investing in smart smoke detectors can help save not only money (5% on insurance premiums), but also your life as 63% of all fire fatalities are due to missing or having disarmed such devices.

Additionally, the convenience of being able to remotely lock doors, turn off major appliances, and check on your valuables while away is priceless.

Do you have the capability to consult, for example, a developer or property management company for a large multi unit building?

Whether I am working with a homeowner or property management group, I utilize my industry expertise to evaluate the best fit for the user’s preferred environment. No matter how big or small the building, I work with contracted installers to implement the devices that are best suited for their needs.


If you are interested in learning more about smart building or automated home technology, visit

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