From pre-heating your home via your iPhone to an automatic vacuum cleaner, welcome to the hi-tech house.
Want to use your smartphone to check the progress of your washing machine cycle? Or switch on a robot to mow the lawn?
Both facilities exist – in primitive form, so far – but they are modest compared to the sophisticated technology demanded by buyers of homes in the 21st century.
‘International buyers in London are the keenest,’ says Alastair Hilton of Winkworth. ‘A lot spend a relatively short time in the property, so want to fly in and have it exactly as they want,’ he says. For these purchasers heating, lighting and security – all controlled from an iPad or iPhone – are amongst the minimum requirements.
‘Broadband speed is really at the forefront. Some rural clients have spent tens of thousands of pounds to get high-speed connections,’ says Hugo Thistlethwayte, managing director of buying agency Prime Purchase.
So, which are the best? Here’s our top ten…
Some homes now have so-called NFC tags which, like the chips in no-PIN connect credit and debit cards, are ‘read’ at the door so only you can enter.
How about smart thermostats for each room – they exist and can be monitored and changed on your smartphone.
3. Automatic blinds
These came to prominence 15 years ago and, like lights, mean your blinds and curtains close and open to a pre-programmed schedule.
4. Auto-reversing drainage valves
OK, so they’re not sexy but they may prevent rising water flooding your property.
5. Motion sensor lights
These have a green by-product, saving electricity by switching on only when there is movement and shutting off when all is quiet.
Automatic vacuum cleaners, mostly without leads, glide around the room and even recharge themselves – but still need manual bag emptying.
7. Smart fridges
Some now scan barcodes on your products to advise you when the sell-by dates are about to expire – and allow you to order more food online.
Old-fashioned now, but the new-to-market Piper system has an 180-degree fish eye lens and a panoramic camera, so you can see the entire room. It will alert you on your smartphone if it senses movement and even sounds an alarm on your command – wherever you are in the world. getpiper.com
9. Glass mood panels
‘LCD panels that turn dark at the flick of a switch are very cool,’ says Ed Mead of London estate agency Douglas & Gordon.
10. Heat-controlled garages
A Roller requires an optimum temperature – the typical too-cold garage is a menace for your Phantom.
It really is possible to get such features in one place, as Danes House in Oxshott proves. For sale through John D Wood at £2.995m, it has remote-control heating and sound systems, a built-in vacuum, motion-sensitive mood lighting and fittings for an 103-inch plasma TV.
But impressive homes should not blind us to the fact that, sometimes,
less is more.
‘Anything with a big remote is a no-no,’ according to Ed Mead, while Hugo Thistlethwayte admits that ‘panels of switches that do everything are very off-putting – we’re often asked for them to be replaced with a single switch.’