Big Brother isn’t watching but Mom might be.
Smart houses of the near future could include closed-circuit video cameras with password access via the Web, and latchkey kids could find Mom or Dad monitoring them between the times school and work let out for the day. It’s one of the technologies in a house being built at SAIT’s Mayland campus for display at next week’s Smart2000 Conference.
Larry Rosia, dean of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s construction department, says the house will be moved back to SAIT from the Telus Convention Centre after the conference. It will provide SAIT and industry groups with a test bed for new technologies.
Construction “has a hard-hat kind of reputation, but it’s a high-tech sector,” says Rosia. He says the major backers of the project are Jayman Master Builder and Genstar, but 25 or more partners contributed.
Dave Edwards, a SAIT program co-ordinator, says the house is being built in two halves so it can be moved downtown and back.
Newer and smarter technologies run from things that need extra wiring behind the walls to new finishing materials outside.
The siding on the house is a fibrous concrete product. Greyish in its natural state, it’s made with wood-like patterns and can be painted. The window and door frames are a concrete-coated styrofoam. The material is made in Calgary and can be extruded on whatever moulding profile is required, says Edwards.
There are three or four places to put computers in the house and they can be programmed to run house functions. Lights can be ordered to brighten or dim automatically as people move from room to room. Curtains can be opened or closed by computer.
One monitor is slated for the kitchen, allowing parents to make supper and keep an eye on the kids at the same time. The stove and refrigerator are smart appliances. The living room has a large, plasma-screen television on one wall. The front of the house looks like it is faced in rock with a rock-and-concrete pillar on the porch by the front door. Not so, says Edwards. It’s another concrete product, including the faux rocks.
The attractive deck lumber isn’t what it seems, either. It’s a mixture of plastic and cedar chips, but it will weather like roof shakes.
When the SAIT instructors finish building the house, it will be trucked downtown for the Smart2000 Conference that runs Monday to Thursday next week at the Telus Convention Centre.
Rosia says that when it returns to SAIT, the house will be part of a project with two smart homes that the National Research Council has in Ottawa. In the meantime, Mom can tell Tommy to leave the video games alone and do his homework.
Home buyers can call up a menu of mortgage choices using software at a Calgary real estate organization.
411HomeNet is using mortgage software from Basis100 Inc. HomeNet, a division of the Hopewell Group of Companies, works exclusively with home buyers. The company believes power has moved from sellers to buyers in the new economy.
The software lets buyers check their mortgage options from several lenders at once on one page, says Jim Dewald, HomeNet president.
“I went on myself the first day we had it, threw in my home, my income and so on,” says Dewald. “It came back lickety-split, what each bank would do for me.” It’s one more click to pick the mortgage.
HomeNet operates in Calgary, Toronto and Atlanta. It plans to expand to 50 other cities within two years.
Suburban office vacancies are creeping up this year, but the market is absorbing space about as fast as it’s built, says property management company CB Richard Ellis.
The firm’s third-quarter survey shows vacancies at 10.81 per cent at the end of the third quarter 2000, up from 10.58 per cent at year-end 1999. That means 630,000 sq. ft. of suburban offices were built and 594,000 sq. ft. absorbed.