Builder Differentiates New Homes with Automation/ Security Offering
In 2012, Pennsylvania-based Mignatti Cos. was looking for a way to differentiate its new homes and position them as “high-tech,” smart homes with great value. Adding energy management capabilities was also a key to the marketing message the company wanted to create for the homes. After researching possible options, the company added Honeywell’s Tuxedo Touch wireless controller.
Tuxedo Touch is a touchscreen device that uses the Z-Wave protocol to wirelessly integrate lighting, locking, HVAC systems, and of course, security. The result is that homeowners can control all of these functions from a single device. A built-in Web server takes it a step further by allowing the homeowner to access all of these systems from any Web-enabled device such as a smartphone or mobile tablet.
Andy Soloski, sales supervisor at JM Resources, the local integrator that worked to provide the Tuxedo Touch to Mignatti Cos., shared, “Customers buy new homes so that they are current with advancements in technology. From exterior/interior surfaces, insulation, HVAC, plumbing and perhaps the most often-changing — electronic devices — builders can offer outstanding value in a brand new home.”
Today, the challenge for builders is to convince the homebuyers that their investments are the best — and hold the value the potential buyer is looking for.
“We had to answer the question, ‘What are you going to give me that the competition isn’t?’ It’s twofold. First is the lifestyle aspect. They want technology that will help make their lives easier,” said Stephen McKenna, president of Mignatti Cos. “The second aspect is the green aspect, the ability to do things like control their thermostats remotely because it saves energy and money in the long run.”
Tuxedo Touch enhanced the value proposition Mignatti Cos. was looking to offer, shared Amy Wagner, marketing coordinator for Mignatti Cos.
“Honeywell’s Tuxedo Touch was an integral component of our Mignatti Cos.’ green marketing campaign,” Wagner shared. “The homes were designed to offer higher value to our home buyers through cost savings and energy efficiency through our construction practices and then the Honeywell Tuxedo Touch was an added component to that.
“The green component of our marketing was pursued partly on market demand — green is still a buzzword in the industry — and because home buyers are looking for as much value in their new home purchase as they can possibly get. Energy efficiency is a big part of that, whether it is through the construction that creates a more durable, long-lasting home and offers saving in short-term monthly utility bills and long-term maintenance or through the Tuxedo Touch that helps with HVAC and lighting control.”
Wagner shared Mignatti Cos. decided to go with Honeywell for the flexibility the system allowed the home buyers by not tying them down to a specific Internet provider, a big advantage security-based home automation platforms have over Internet or communication provider’s offerings.
The system offers flexibility for the homeowner regarding Internet providers, but it also offers flexibility to the installer, in this case, JM Resources, because it can be installed at any time.
“The initial push was to install the systems in homes that were purchased from a particular date forward in new construction. But we also have several houses we had put alarms in over the past several years and now we will be going back to them and seeing if they want to move their houses forward with Tuxedo. That’s easy to do since the system is so retrofit-friendly and we can install it at any point in the life of the house,” Soloski shared.
Soloski described the package offered in the Mignatti homes.
“The basis of the system remained on the security side with door contacts and motion detection. From there the clients could individually add perimeter (windows, etc.). On the automation side the standard house there had two zones of heat, so we offered two Honeywell thermostats with Z-Wave built into them, alongside four lighting modules that were also Z-Wave complainant and controlled through Tuxedo. Finally, as an addition, a client could add door locks, which would complete the ability to remotely access and control the house, and add cameras if they wanted to check in with the home remotely using the Tuxedo Touch app or get emailed alerts of events such as packages arriving or kids coming home from school.”
Soloski said the package offered ended up closely reflecting what the home buyers were looking for, but that changes and upgrades remained easy with the system’s wireless design.
“Because the system is wireless, the clients have the ability to evolve with the system over time. It is often difficult for clients to predict how their life is going to be within a brand new home, so the fact that Tuxedo Touch is wireless makes it easy for additional Z-Wave devices to be introduced into the system. In fact, that only makes the system stronger since Z-Wave is a mesh system and the more you have the better it works,” he added.
JM Resources worked with the HVAC and lighting contractors at the community, giving them the thermostats and lighting modules to install, and then going back in and addressing the components into the Tuxedo Touch system after they were installed.
“The Tuxedo Touch system was certainly a differentiator for us,” said Wagner. “We’ve since sold out at the community — and it was perceived as a key added-value feature in our homes.”
“We have nothing but positive and good things to say about it. It was well-received, easy-to-use, easy for us to demonstrate to our perspective home buyers, highly convenient, and definitely offered that additional value we were looking to add,” Wagner says.