The past, the present and the future of homes

builderThe way we live has changed immeasurably. Eighty years ago, homeowners expected little more than four walls, some windows and a roof. Telephones, hard-wired into an exchange, were a luxury reserved for the very rich, most houses didn’t have indoor plumbing and very few had electricity.

With the relentless pace of change, it’s possible that in the next few decades our homes could become energy self-sufficient, fully integrated media hubs that are smart enough to switch off the lights and the central heating when everyone’s out and order more milk if the fridge is running low.

When a modern home is built, builders have to try and take these changes into account, finding the most effective ways to install wireless broadband, solar panels and heat recovery systems. They also need to try to futureproof their projects so that homeowners can be certain of the best possible resale value if they decide to move on.

Progress and problems

It’s not only the builder that faces challenges. The ever changing technology creates two big issues for a homeowner.

The first is managing the wealth of paperwork and forms that are associated with owning a modern home. There are the manuals for the integrated oven, guarantees for the patio doors and the paperwork for insurance policies. It’s all important and it all needs to be stored carefully so that it can be found quickly if it’s ever needed.

The ideal approach is to file it carefully in clearly marked folders, but generally it ends up in a pile on top of the microwave or stuffed into a kitchen draw. If you ever need the paperwork, you simply have to hope that you can find what you need relatively quickly without turning the house upside down and tearing your hair out in the process.

The second challenge is the additional technology itself that is becoming increasingly standard in new homes. Its constantly being modified, advice and contact details are frequently changed. Do you know how to get the best from your solar panels? How often do they need to be serviced? Have you stored the manual for the television somewhere sensible so that you can find it if the new games console isn’t as plug and play as the box claims? Yes, the internet might have an answer, but you often have to wade through a lot of random information before you find something that’s relevant to your particular television and console combination.

Simple solutions

To make life easier, NHBC has developed the Home User Guide (HUG), a secure online portal where homeowners with a home built by one of their registered builders can store information so that it’s easy to find.

HUGs include plain-English explanations about what some of the modern technology in a home does and how you can get the best from it. It also includes full details of NHBC’s new build home warranty and insurance policy, Buildmark. This means that if a homeowner needs to make a claim, they know what cover they have and who to contact. If they sell the house, HUG can be easily updated to reflect the new owner’s details.

You can also use your HUGs to store information about fixtures, fittings and finishes. Once wallpaper brands and designs have been added to a HUG, if you are out shopping and spot something that you think might go well in the living room, you can check your colour scheme and make sure that what you’ve spotted truly works. If you are worried about its size, you can check against your plans if they’ve been added to your HUG too.

Who can say whether the majority of homes will be truly energy self-sufficient and smart by the dawn of the next century. Even if they are, homes will still keep evolving to reflect the ever-changing needs of homeowners and society as a whole. Builders and the construction industry, and homeowners themselves, will need to keep innovating to stay on top of it all.

If you’d like more information about HUG, visit http://www.nhbc.co.uk/Homeowners/HomeUserGuide/.

 

 


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