Smart Home Tech Evolves From Add-On to Must-Have

A new survey of homebuilding industry professionals by Utopia reveals the smart home tech features that builders offer as standard and upgrade options.
Download the 2021 Utopia Smart Home Technology Survey, ConstructUtopia.com Illustration: Mohamed Hassan, Pixabay

For the complete findings from the 2021 Utopia Smart Home Technology Survey, download the 9-page PDF report by clicking the "Download Report" button below.

Smart home tech has become more than a nice-to-have upgrade. Many in the homebuilding industry now deliver it as a standard offering.

That’s a key takeaway from a new UTOPIA survey of 357 builders, architects, home designers, remodelers, and contractors. More than a third (37%) of respondents to the 2021 Utopia Smart Home Technology Survey are homebuilders (single family, custom, or multifamily), while 27% are architects or designers for single family homes and 16% are architects or designers for multifamily projects.

Smart home features are now standard in all the homes of close to half (46%) of respondents. Almost a third offer smart home features as an upgrade option. Almost one-fifth offer such features as both standard and upgrade options. And very few (less than 3%) do not sell or market smart home features at all.

Of the smart home features that are a standard offer, the most common is the video doorbell. Almost a third of respondents provide video doorbells as standard, and 42% offer them as an upgrade. 

Here are the seven most common smart home features that are standard in respondents’ homes:

  • Video doorbells (32%)
  • Smart home fitness (20%)
  • Smart home control and monitoring systems (20%)
  • Touchless fixtures (20%)
  • Smart garage control (20%)
  • Internet-connected HVAC systems (19%)
  • Smart home entertainment (19%)

It’s not surprising, then, that respondents say video doorbells, an integral part of home security, are the most important smart home feature for their buyers. 

But there’s also a bit of a disconnect between the smart tech that builders install and the smart tech they think their buyers want. Less than 14% of respondents specifically have smart security systems as a standard offering. Yet respondents overall see smart security systems as the third most important smart home feature for their buyers—just behind smart locks and keyless entry.

Similarly, less than 15% of respondents provide wi-fi networks and mesh wi-fi systems as a standard offer. Yet respondents see this smart tech feature as the fourth most important one for their buyers.

The survey also revealed an area with promising growth potential: a phone app that controls smart home tech. 

When asked what share of their buyers they think would pay a premium to control some or multiple areas of their home via a phone app, over 38% say most of their buyers. Almost 21% say almost all their buyers. And almost one-third say about half their buyers. Less than 1% think very few of their buyers would pay extra for this feature.

For the complete findings from the 2021 Utopia Smart Home Technology Survey, download the 9-page PDF report by clicking the "Download Report" button below. 

Thanks to the Housing Innovation Alliance for assistance in producing this exclusive research report.