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Ask the Architect

What’s a fad, and what will last?


Q. We were thinking about adding systems to our house for security, temperature control, sprinklers and lighting. Our grandson has it, and installed it himself. What we’re wondering is whether it’s worth the value, since we plan to sell and move to downsize in the new few years. Do you think homebuyers expect to see all these new things in a home? Does it make the house easier to sell? We’ve lived without all these things our whole lives, and are kind of being talked into it by our grandson. What do you think we should do?

A. While watching a movie about the British royal family, I smiled when I saw a car carrying the queen pulling up a long, winding driveway toward one of the family’s many castles. The ornate architecture was stunning and impressive, built hundreds of years ago, without running water, electricity or a heating system. The majestic towers disguised their two real purposes, one being chimneys needed to waft away the smoke and heat, and the other for guards to stand watch over the open countryside, to protect the castle from invaders. I was humored that their royal ancestors would have been envious of how you and I live.

The 200-plus-horsepower car replaced the 200 horsemen that protected the king or queen as they headed toward the castle. They lived a luxurious life, with high ceilings, real windows, diverted water from a stream — but they also smelled the stagnant sewage water from the moat, shivered in their beds and hunted to fill their bellies, turning it into a sport, with plenty of subjects to hunt for them. When you think about it, your life is royally better than they ever had it, yet we always want more.

You flip a switch, or even better, utter the word “Alexa,” “Siri” or whoever, and tell her to turn the lights on for you. Your thermal comfort can be controlled from the wall or your cellphone, from across the room or across the planet. Nobody has to shiver in the middle of the night to add more logs to the fire. You can lie in bed and choose to watch a movie or read a book.

This is the season when it should be most apparent how thankful we should be that we live relatively luxurious lives we take for granted. The mindset of the next generation of homebuyers isn’t the luxury we have right now, but the next newest thing we “need” to have. Based on that mindset, the technology you add to your home is really to be more focused on what will sell, and judging by the conversations I’ve with new homeowners, the latest technology is an enticement that helped the buyer to decide over purchasing another home. The most import thing is to evaluate what is faddish and what will last. Wireless technology over wired changed everything, and will keep evolving. Good luck!

© 2020 Monte Leeper. Readers are encouraged to send questions to yourhousedr@aol.com, with “Herald question” in the subject line, or to Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.