If maximizing convenience and conserving energy in your home are priorities for you, make sure to visit Granite Ridge Builders’ NextSTEP™ Innovation Home Gallery on Flutter Road, where you’ll see a myriad of technological innovations on display. The 6,000-square foot model home brings together the ultimate in technologically advanced, energy-efficient home features in one space.
Discovering the conveniences is just plain fun; countless products can now be remotely controlled. “We want to make people aware of the possibilities, aware of what’s out there,” says Luke Hoffman, executive project manager and vice president of construction. “You can buy a single item—a stand-alone product—say, a $50 plug with an app to control the power that goes to that plug. It’s not only convenient, it’s a good safety feature. If you leave home and realize you’ve left the curling iron on, you can turn it off from an app on your phone,” he says by way of example. “But if you buy 100 different stand-alone products, you’ll have 100 different apps,” Hoffman adds. “That can be overwhelming.”
“In the NextSTEP™ home, whole-house automation ties in everything—fireplace, televisions, lights, door locks, window shades, everything,” he says. “Putting the whole house on automation lets you pull all of the controls into one app,” Hoffman explains, comparing the technology and convenience to that of a truly universal remote.
“We are entering the Internet of Things or IoT,” says Hoffman, elaborating on just how it all works. “The ‘things’ are connected to a central unit, the brains of the system. A single app gives you the power to control all the things connected to the unit. The app can be loaded onto multiple devices so that more than one person operating a single device can control the power. You can also limit the availability of control so that, for instance, your kids can’t play a prank on you by turning the lights in the master bedroom on and off at 3 a.m. while you’re asleep” he says. Cost of the unit? $850. Homeowners decide what products they want to buy and add them a la carte.
Convenience and energy savings come together when you create different scenes in the app, allowing you to specify what you want to control and how you want to control it under specific circumstances. “For example, you might program a go-away scene to activate when you are leaving the house. Rather than check every light switch, window shade, door lock and appliance before you leave, you can tap the go-away scene and the app will take care of securing the house and turning off energy-drawing items. Controlling energy with the app can easily eliminate the use of unwanted power. Whatever you want to happen, whatever can be controlled, can happen,” Hoffman points out.
You don’t have to build a new home to control the things you want using an app. “Home automation can be retrofitted, although it is easier to install in new construction. A new house can be set up for future whole-home automation at a time when you’re ready to purchase the products. You can put the brain in or get a pre-wiring package for installation later,” he explains, aware that people may not know what they’ll want to have automated in the future.
At Granite Ridge Builders, the idea for the NextSTEP™ house, which stands for Smart Technology and Energy Performance, began about three years ago. “We wanted to build a house that would be technologically advanced and energy efficient—a house that would produce its own power without sacrificing aesthetics.”
Among the energy-efficient features of the home are:
“Without using solar power, the annual electric bill would be $450 to heat and cool the house,” says Hoffman. “Using solar power, our bill for the past four months was $0. In fact, we have a credit with AEP because we’ve produced more energy than we’ve consumed.”
Stunningly decorated by Choice Designs Inc. on Carroll Road (ChoiceDesignsInc.com), the NextSTEP™ Innovation Home Gallery serves as a unique meeting venue for companies and individuals interested in seeing what the future of home building and home living holds. “We’re creating awareness. Granite Ridge Builders is leading the charge in integrating technology and building,” says Hoffman, clearly excited to be one of the frontrunners.
7467 Flutter Road
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46835
Open Sundays 1-4 p.m.
Owner(s): Anthony Reincke
Address: 1020 Woodland Plaza Run Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Phone: (260) 490 1417
Years in Business: 14
Products & Services: Custom, new residential home construction servicing northern Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan.