| Feb 2, 2015 |
When it comes to home renovations, smart technology prevails
Boh staff
By Staff

Women 35 and under see value in making space livable through smart technology and integrated design, according to Jill Waage, brand executive editor for Better Homes and Gardens, who presented the findings of the annual “You and Your Home Survey” at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas last month. “The next generation of home owners will lead the way in adopting new technology—making features like the ability to preheat an oven or unlock the front door from your smartphone the new norm in home convenience.”

Jill Waage at the Better Homes and Gardens offices

As part of the survey just over 1,600 homeowners living in single-family houses in the United States shared their thoughts on home improvement spending, the importance of functional design, and value in home technology.

This year’s research focused on the “next generation” of homebuyers and their preferences on topics like outdoor living spaces, home exteriors, kitchens and the integration of smart technology and design in the home.

Among the key findings from this year’s survey are the following:

Adopting Smart Technology—More than half of respondents, including 64 percent of the women polled who are under 35 believe smart technology makes their home safer and more enjoyable. Respondents report that indoor and outdoor lighting, door locks and security cameras are the areas in which they are most likely to adopt new technology in the future.

•    While 64 percent of the women under 35 believe that smart technology costs a lot of money, nearly the same amount (61 percent) say that the investment will save energy. Interestingly, survey respondents under 35 are nearly twice as likely as older generations to agree that technology is easily upgraded and maintained, and that it can be customized to their budgets and needs.

•    Furthermore, 57 percent of the women under 35 believe that smart technology is a good investment in their home, as opposed to the 35 percent of those surveyed age 55 and above. What's more,59 percent of those women under 35 believe that smart technology can be integrated into their personal style, taste and décor. That's true of only 29 percent of respondents 55 and above.

•    Survey participants indicated that the kitchen and living room are the top rooms in the home to benefit from smart technology—and that digital video recorders (DVRs), heating and cooling systems and television controls are the top technologies that survey participants currently make use of with smart technology. Compared to those 35 and older, a larger percentage of women under 35 see the garage, laundry room and parent bedroom as rooms in the home that would benefit from smart technology.

Attitudes toward outdoor living spaces—About half of the women polled who are under 35 say their current use for outdoor space is limited to grilling, yet a majority wants their space to feel like a relaxing retreat for entertaining. These women are more likely than older generations to use their outdoor space for meals and to decorate it as they would their living or dining room. Overall, respondents see outdoor living space as an extension of the home and an important place for family to spend time together.

•    Roughly three out of four (73 percent) of participants under 35 report that outdoor space is important for entertaining, in comparison to only 46 percent of those surveyed over age 55, and 59 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 35-55.

•    Currently, 47 percent of women under 35 have a fire pit or fireplace in their outdoor living space, as opposed to only one out of five (19 percent) of those over age 55. Twenty-five percent of women under 35 currently have a sound system installed and 22 percent report using a television outdoors—as opposed to 13 percent and 6 percent, respectively, of those over 35.

•    51 percent of women under 35 dream of having an outdoor kitchen sink, cooktop, refrigerator and grill in comparison to only 25 percent of those over age 55 and 37 percent of those 35-55. A little over half (53 percent) of women under 35 surveyed responded that they dream of having outdoor lamps, party lights and landscape lighting in their outdoor living space.

Dreams for the yard—Survey participants dream most about adding outdoor elements like fountains or ponds; products that improve security; low maintenance plants; and wider,stone-paved paths to their yard. Those women under 35 have greater interest than those who are older in investing in security products, edible landscaping, play-space for kids, and larger/wider stone-made paths and patios.

•    51 percent of women under 35 dream of adding products that improve security to their yards, as opposed to only 31 percent of respondents over age 55.

•    39 percent of women under 35 report a desire for edible landscaping, where only 21 percent of those above 55 agree that this is an important feature for their yards.

Opinions on curb appeal—The majority (86 percent) of participants agree that an up-to-date exterior adds to the value of their property, and 70 percent agree that the front of the home should be a reflection of their personal style. However, 1 in 4 respondents agree that exterior makeovers are expensive and not worth the investment. A significantly higher percentage of millennials identify with that statement, and may need the most convincing to make changes.

•    33 percent of women under 35 report that exterior makeovers are expensive and not worth the investment, as opposed to 16 percent of those 55 and over.

•    64 percent of women under 35 report using a pop of color to enhance the curb appeal of their homes—compared to 51 percent of respondents over age 55.

•    Exterior features that rank most highly on the list of planned improvements include improved landscaping, upgraded lighting, and a new front door rank high.

The quantitative online survey was fielded Oct. 23 – Nov. 10 among 1,648 U.S. female homeowners living in single-family homes. Of those surveyed, 807 respondents (49 percent) reported themselves as Better Homes and Gardens readers belonging to the “Meredith Knows Women” consumer panel, while 841 respondents (51 percent) were secured through Survey Sampling Inc. The sampling error on the total sample (n=1,648) is +/- 2.4%.

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