The first question you need to ask when trying to work out the cost of your smart home is what approach you’re wanting to take – essentially, a trade-off between cost and convenience.
What are the options?
Some off-the-shelf elements – such as some wireless smart cameras or Phillips Hue smart bulbs – can be installed piecemeal and controlled by a dedicated app. However, joining these together isn’t always easy to achieve and requires further knowledge of home automation.
DIFM (do-it-for-me) or Advanced DIY
Products such as Fibaro and Qmotion shades could be installed by homeowners, but often is it is better to bring in someone with specialist knowledge to install the system for you.
Even Nest’s Thermostat, one of the most popular smart home products on the market, recommends trained professional installation to guarantee that it works.
For anything ranging from a fully integrated climate control or a graded smart security system to integrated control of multiple systems, the only feasible option is to bring in a qualified installer to design and install a whole-house system.
A smart home expert will guide you through the entire process from concept to completion, helping you to specify the technology that will work best for your property.
For properties with unique environmental challenges or specialist technological requirements, choosing a smart home company with extensive experience in crafting unique solutions ensures an installation that remains sensitive to both the construction and interior design.
How are project costs broken down?
A professionally-installed smart home needs to be carefully planned by an experienced systems designer before the property is fitted out. This is a necessary cost, as it avoids critical problems occurring both during installation and after the project is completed. A more complex project will require a more extensive design process.
For smaller smart home installations, particularly off-the-shelf DIY projects, equipment costs are likely to be the most significant expense.
As the scope of a project grows, the equipment cost becomes the biggest variable. In terms of being able to order equipment such as cabling in bulk, the overall per-unit price decreases as more is ordered, but the overall cost will depend on what equipment is specified and how much functionality is included.
Labour costs can be significant – generally 20 – 50% of the overall project expenditure – but a professional install will result in a future-ready home that is efficient, secure and designed to last for years to come. This not only covers the physical installation itself, but also includes pre-installation work and engineering expenses.
As with most construction projects, a larger smart home will benefit from relative savings on labour and materials due to economies of scale.
On professional installations, a project manager is needed to oversee the entire process and ensure that everything progresses smoothly. Larger or more bespoke smart home builds will need more day-to-day involvement from the project manager, particularly if there are a number of external partners to liaise with.
This type of project will often have a more experienced member of staff overseeing everything to guarantee a more efficient installation.
Depending on the size of your project and how much third-party input is required, the balance of costs will vary greatly. Below is a rough guide for how you can expect to allocate your budget.
How will you work out a price for my specific property?
How much a smart home will cost largely depends on the property itself. A flat in a gated community will have less need for smart security than a detached property with a garden. The number of floors, meanwhile will affect how many alarms and sensors will need to be installed.
The number of rooms and occupants is generally proportionate to how many audio and video zones are required. A couple are likely to use fewer rooms regularly than a family of four, while a young child might have less need for a TV in their room than a teenager.
Finally, the available square footage and layout of the property will be an important factor in determining how many lighting circuits are required, and whether multiple heating zones might be appropriate.
Example: A four-bedroom family smart home
This property is a four-bedroom detached family home in the suburbs, featuring a home cinema and a home office.
Security (From £5,350)
Outdoor cameras in the front and back gardens and multiple sensors are linked to two outdoor sirens to deter potential intruders. Inside, security cameras on each floor ensure that the owner can keep an eye on their house via real-time feeds streamed to their phone.
In the home office, an additional motion sensor means that no one can enter the room without the homeowner knowing.
Comfort (From £18,500)
Motorised blinds around the entire property rise and lower automatically, cooling the house in summer and maximising natural light during the winter months.
Whole-house lighting control saves energy and makes it easy to turn the whole house off. Multiple heating zones mean that downstairs rooms can be kept warm during the day when they are more likely to be used, then cooler overnight when the family is upstairs asleep.
Entertainment (from £14,000)
As well as a home entertainment zone in the living room, there are televisions in the master bedroom and the elder child’s room for watching films. The house has been wired so additional TV zones can be installed in the remaining bedrooms at a later date if desired.
With multi-room audio installed throughout the house, the family can enjoy music wherever they are, whether they are preparing food, entertaining guests or working from home.
Home cinema (from £30,000)
Customised for the property, the sound-proofed home cinema features a state-of-the-art 4K projection system and an acoustically treated 3D audio set-up; all of which creates an experience that tops even the local multiplex.
Backbone: from £14,500
Racking & power protection - £2,000
Wifi / wired network - £9,000
Whole-home control system - £3,500
Total: from £82,700 (inc. VAT)**
*Please note that these figures are all inclusive i.e. they include hardware, wiring, installation, design, project management and VAT.
**This is intended as a rough guide only. It is not an accurate representation of exact costs, which will vary and could increase depending on the technology specified.