Harness the Potential of Technology in the Homebuilding Process

Homebuilders who aren’t interested in offering technology integration as part of their business model are now firmly in the minority. This point is proven by research from the CEA’s annual “State of the Builder Study,” which was compiled in conjunction with the NAHB Research Center. It states that 85 percent of builders believe technology is important in the marketing of a new home. The applications of this technology are extremely compelling to homebuyers: entertainment, whole-home control, security and more that can come with their new house, instead of them hunting for it on the aftermarket.Clearly, in these extremely competitive times, the time is now to embrace technology (if you haven’t already). And thanks to some retrofit technology that’s on the way, it’s effectively yesterday! Allow me to elaborate.Structured wiring and powerline
Wherever possible, structured wiring is a must for the 21st century home, bundling all of the home’s communications wiring into one coherent system. These bundles can include wiring for home networking, telephone, video, audio, alarms, infrared remote control and more. Running these wires before the walls are closed is more cost-effective and less disruptive than ripping up walls to do so at a later date. These bundles also serve as a Trojan horse, giving builders the opportunity to approach the homebuyer with new technological offerings as they become available.Structured wiring has some inherent advantages compared to more slapdash wiring installations. With all of the cables running back to a central wiring panel, it’s easy to change how and what each individual cable is connected to and what it is used for. Structured wiring also makes troubleshooting a snap, since each of the cables can be isolated and tested for problems. Furthermore, because all the cables run back to the central wiring panel, they can all be connected to the same source without the need for some outlets to pass through more splitters and splices than others. This greatly improves the consistency of signals.Structured wiring isn’t a good fit for every builder or every situation, however. With that in mind, here’s some great news. If you’re not willing to commit to structured wiring, a new option that leverages the electrical wiring in a home to transmit audio, data and more is on the horizon. This technology will allow you to retrofit your existing housing inventory at a reasonable cost and with minimal disruption to add a fresh twist for wooing homebuyers. The system will also provide an alternative way to offer some technology to homebuyers if you aren’t yet investing in full-blown structured wiring for new builds. A multi-room audio system using this technology will be available later this year with other solutions certain to follow.The first feasible multi-room audio system using powerline technology will be available later this year with other solutions certain to follow. If you hear the name Renovia in the near future, you now have the inside scoop.Explore Quick and Easy Demos
Demonstrating technology, particularly architectural consumer electronics like multi-room audio, has long been a thorny issue for home builders. A prominent objection is the expense. So consider this inexpensive trick to introduce the multi-room audio concept into your model home at a fraction of the cost of installing a full-fledged multi-room audio system. It starts by utilizing the consumer’s own music with an appliance they know and understand: the iPod.Multi-room audio today is a more compelling new-home option than ever because it ties directly into the exploding concept of “My Music” among consumers. The advent of portable music players like the iPod has enabled music collections to go virtually anywhere their owners go. Many home buyers would welcome the extension of “My Music” to an entire home. By providing a simple music demonstration, you can entice home buyers by showing them how uncomplicated, powerful and fun a multi-room audio system can be.Simply install an amplified source input and connect it to an iPod dock and in-wall or in-ceiling speakers. Set up a location in the room where an on-wall audio control pad would go. You don’t need to install a live control pad, just a blank plate covered with a transparent graphic that shows what a control interface would look like. Install this demo in the most public of spots in the home-the kitchen. Allow the home buyer to plug his or her iPod into the dock and hear the music instantly over the speakers. The demo will show the home buyer how easy it would be to hear “My Music” over the home’s audio system. It will make an immediate “I want that” impact on the home buyer: “Here’s something that will make life in this house simpler and richer.”This unique selling approach is highly affordable. Roughly speaking, a pair of speakers runs $200, an iPod dock runs $49, and an amplified in-wall local source runs $125. Add a nominal cost for speaker wire and installation, and you’ve got a slick demo that doesn’t break the bank.Find Your Digital Path
Believing technology is important, as the aforementioned CEA-NAHB study found, doesn’t make it easy. The complexity of choosing and installing home technology systems and products has always been the biggest hurdle for homebuilders, and it remains so. Low-voltage integration of consumer electronics products requires specialized skills, especially when dealing with proprietary technology platforms, rapidly changing technologies and user preferences, and the unique programming and configuration models many systems employ. Acquiring these skills-either by partnering with a local electronic systems contractor (ESC) or hiring your own talent-can be expensive and time-consuming. The builder just wants it to be profitable.
The current slowdown is giving us all a chance to reconsider, reflect and reboot what we do and how we do it. Right now is the time for the builder to consider this: What kind of technology offerings do my potential homebuyers want? Once you definitively answer that question, you can build a new, updated strategy from there-before you make any investments that may or may not be as focused and efficient as they should be.Homebuyers in 2009 are far more sophisticated about technology than they were even five years ago. Smart phones, multi-room entertainment systems, networked PCs, HDTVs, iPod docks, GPS systems and powerful universal remotes, among other products and concepts, have changed the way homeowners and homebuyers view technology. It’s no longer considered a convenience or a luxury to be “connected.” It’s now a lifestyle necessity. It’s something people expect, and it’s something that can and should be profitable for homebuilders.Identify what homebuyers care most about. Is it security, entertainment, energy management, convenience? A newly married twenty-something couple is probably going to get more excited about streaming music from their iPods all over the house, while a five-person family might want a dedicated home theater for movie nights and the ability to monitor security cameras from any TV in the house. Get a good sense of your target demographic’s needs, and explore and build your technology strategy and options from there.In-House or Partnerships?
One way larger builders are adding technology integration services is by hiring ESCs. These professionals often are members of the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), the main trade association for ESCs, which provides them training, certification and education. Both CEDIA and the CEA both offer a wealth of educational information for builders that includes best practices for technology installation.Ideally, every builder would be able to employ one or more in-house ESCs who could control the customer experience and installation process. Unfortunately, not every homebuilder has the resources to expand in this way, so long-term partnerships with reputable ESCs are the next best option.The worst nightmare for a builder is to hire an unfamiliar “tech guy” at the homeowner’s request who comes in, does the electronics and wiring installation, collects his check and is never heard from again. The builder is often left holding the bag, but unfortunately is simply not equipped to troubleshoot any sort of A/V or electronics systems issues. Homeowners don’t want to hear this, however.Before working with any independent ESC, demand that the ESC will be responsible for all follow-up service calls. The builder must be certain that the ESC will provide support over the long haul; if not, the installation should not proceed. By building a strong partnership with an ESC, the builder will gain a loyal and trusted A/V specialist on call who can provide punctual, effective service, rather than always scrambling at the last second to find someone to consult or, even worse, leaving it in the homeowner’s hands. Fortunately, collaboration between CEDIA, CEA and NAHB is at an all-time high and each trade group provides resources for pairing up homebuilders with ESCs on a local level.Involvement early in projects allows the ESC to plan progressively not only with the builder but with the other trades in order to avoid costly and unnecessary changes to wiring, closet/outlet placement and other things that can affect electronics installation and performance.Regardless of whether services are contracted or offered in-house, it’s wise for builders to have an understanding of “good, better, best” technology solutions for their customers. By offering coherent and appealing electronics packages, you can better keep on-time and on-budget. Avoid customization in all but the largest luxury homes, where price is secondary to the homebuyer and the sky is the limit.Whether through an in-house staff or a partnership with an independent ESC, home builders need to find the technology models that work best for them financially and logistically. Ignoring technology is no longer an option when dealing with today’s homebuyers. Fortunately, those of us in the electronics industry are willing and able to help builders get where they need to go. We’re willing and eager to do great work for you-both in your upcoming projects, and to help you sell your existing inventory.

Custom ERP Software Development: Is It Worth It?

Most business organizations today are quickly adopting the use of custom ERP software solutions because as opposed to the common use of manual procedures and legacy applications, ERP programs are cost-effective and efficient. The Enterprise Resource Planning program is a system of integrated applications that are designed to automate different department/office operations (product planning, development, manufacturing, sales and marketing) to a single database.Nevertheless, not all ERP software will meet to every requirement of your organization. Therefore, when deciding on the ERP software to adopt, you need to choose the most reliable one as far as your business needs and processes are concerned. In turn, here are the two types of ERP systems:Off-the-shelfThese are systems easy to implement due to the fact that they are developed out of the experience of other organizations (user groups) other than yours. From the discussions on how each of those companies’ best use the system, you acquire information on how best to adopt the system for your business.Custom ERP softwareWith custom ERP, the system is developed based on your company’s experience. A programmer gets to design the ERP system in accordance what exactly you want the software to be able to do and ideally, the process it should follow in order to do perform and facilitate your operations.WY COMPANIES CHOOSE CUSTOM ERP SOFTWARE
There is a greater chance of a company meeting its user requirements when it goes for custom-built ERP software other than a generic system solution. This is so despite the high upfront costs and time consumption to get the system started. You can always start small and add the essential layers as you go by and in the end meet, the target software for your business. Plus, it is also a way to spreading the initial expenses throughout.Custom ERP software is also designed to fit your business processes instead of the business fitting into it, this is somehow relieving since as far as training of the company’s staff is concerned, there will be less of it. All they have to do is make little adjustments to coordinate with the system.A good example of such approach is Tesla, who carefully evaluated all pros, cons, and risks and decided to build custom ERP solution having above mentioned benefits in mind. Tesla CIO Jay Vijayan calculated the costs of SAP implementation in “millions of dollars” and a year to perform all the required integrations. Tesla managed to achieve same functionality within 4 month and much lower budget with custom built ERP. As the result, they’ve got independence from third-party vendor and Enterprise Resource Planning System that is tailor-made for their established internal business and manufacturing processes.HOW MUCH IT WOULD COST TO BUILD CUSTOM ERP SOFTWARE
It is obvious that the cost of custom ERP software development would depend on what you require, the number users and its complexity. For instance, if you are going for a sophisticated custom ERP system, you might not find complete designs that fulfill your needs. Therefore, you will have to incur extra cost for complimentary products to ensure the software fully functions.Nevertheless, the general cost of the ERP system will range between $25k to 75k. The extra incurring costs for future modules or top-up services and tools would go for $5k to 25k.RISKS OF DEVELOPING CUSTOM ERP SOFTWARE
The solutions and services that custom ERP software development is meant to provide, is usually not in box therefore, it requires a lot of time and finances to initialize the design resulting to high upfront fee.Since development of a custom ERP software is on basis of your requirements, to get a high-quality system that maneuvers around future changes easily despite it being a first-time project, you require a developer with experience. Such resources are hard to come by as you are outsourcing.In addition, your contact with the developer who initialed the system needs to be consistent. This is because they would understand the system better during the development cycle: design, testing, QA/ testing, and training. This may be hard to do especially if the developer is not reliable.Despite that, custom ERP software helps to save an enormous amount of money in long-term perspective. You may ask how is that possible. Each company counts on continued growth, including the number of employees, field force, and offices. In many cases, a bigger number of users means the continually growing expenses for the licensed ERP solution. Enterprise support packages are often sold as extra services and are way more expensive than support from the custom software development provider whose support is often included in the contract. Also, it is worth to mention that your organization will be the only one supported for the product which means better and faster communication.So, the expenses for the existing user licenses, new licenses, and support of the off-the-shelf solution is growing exponentially and completely overlap custom ERP software development costs in a couple of years. In its turn, custom ERP software will justify its high upfront costs, because your enterprise won’t be locked to the provider, will own the solution and all the data stored in the cloud as the result, and won’t pay for licenses when new user accounts will be needed.CUSTOM ERP SOLUTIONS EXAMPLES IN DIFFERENT INDUSTRIES
From the advantages of the existence of a software that can meet your business requirements and solutions, most companies have been seen heading to custom ERP system development for the management of their operations. Below are a few of such companies:Oil and Gas Companies
Oil and gas companies have a great plus with custom ERP software development but, it is usually a tragedy if the system does not support the operations efficiently. Therefore, when going for a tailored system for such a massive company more considerations are put in place other than the obvious; meeting the user needs.Custom ERP software for gas and oil companies should most importantly have applications to handling the environment safety. Energy companies are known to be hazardous to their environment and if not taken care of it would cause damage and to some extent shutting down of the organization. Therefore, the system should be able to provide data to the technicians as warnings in case of any threat so that they can mitigate the risks.Also, other than facilitating the operations of the company, a custom ERP software development should be able to open up opportunities for high profit returns investments for the business. That is, it should have a cost management application too.Finally, oil and gas fields are known to be really massive and some are usually in dense remote areas but since it’s business, every asset should be accounted for. In turn, a custom ERP software with good networking is essential to integrating and managing all the company’s operations regardless of the location. Such location difficulties are curbed with high-tech optimization tools to managing all labor and resources throughout.Manufacturing companies
With manufacturing firms, custom ERP system are saviors when it comes to saving costs, eliminating office paperwork, tracking business performance and improving customer experience. This is made possible by integrated custom applications platforms for management of its operations.Nevertheless, managing a national or to some extent international business operations can be a challenging task. A centralized custom ERP software can however, bring light to all your businesses processes as it enables management of creation of product, marketing and availing of the product across all the decentralized outlets. In addition, it integrates all that data thus incorporating workflow and control automatically.Education (schools)
Schools that are going for complete computerization of their functions and processes have custom ERP system development to opt for. A great number of schools have been seen heading to this direction with use of highly tailor-made programs to handle the school management and they are known to be very successful.Whether it is nursery/ kindergarten, high school or colleges, custom ERP systems have proven to provide efficient management of the institutions.WHAT ADVANTAGES WILL YOU GET IF DECIDE TO DEVELOP CUSTOM ERP
A custom ERP software is more of a prototype system whereby you can start designing the most basic and important features and function that you have in mind then later, during testing and maintenance, you can add other essentials bringing you to a very efficient software.

With a custom-tailored system, you are likely to achieve the solutions or attain the services you are going for from a software seamlessly.

The staff is usually at an advantage of comprehending how the system works easily because it was designed in accordance to the business practices and language. In turn they have little to adjust on their side.

Custom ERP systems are usually flexible in terms of future technological or even business changes. There is always a capacity for incorporating any developing trends.

Unlike the offshore system, you get to own the custom ERP system and its design is made specifically to meet your needs. Therefore, you need not to wait for feature requests and enhancements as you are in complete control of the system.
In summary, the basic things you need in hand while planning to adopt custom ERP system is you have to budget for high upfront fees. You will require a team of tech-experts from programmers, quality controllers, database engineers to designers and probably more. Then there is patience needed too, developing software that uniquely fits your business, just like Rome cannot be built in a day. It will require a lot of work which will consume time months or even year.In addition, you need to be fully aware of the company you have set your eyes on to work with because that would be a tragic decision as well as a blessing even before you start. The expertise, as well as a software development company’s stability, is very essential to check while assessing them. Have they done this before? Do they understand your business needs? Are the type of questions you should have answered before moving forward with them.

What Is a Hard Money Loan and How It Works?

A hard money loan refers to a type of loan. However, what makes it different from other types of loans is that it’s secured on real property. Moreover, they are considered short-term bridge or last resort loans. Basically, they are used in different real estate transactions. The lenders are either companies or individuals, not banks. Read on to know more.

Key Takeaways

Given below are some of the salient features of these loans.

Primarily, they are used for real estate transactions. And this money comes from a company or individual instead of a bank.
Typically, this type of loan is granted for a short period of time. The purpose is collect money quickly at a lower ration of LTV and higher cost.
Since these loans are not executed traditionally, the funding time is reduced is usually quite quick.
It’s interesting to note that the terms of these loans are negotiated between the borrower and the lender. Plus, these loans use the real estate as collateral.
Although repayment may result in default, they still leave a lot of profit for the lender.
How does a Hard Money Loan Work?
Usually, the terms of hard money loans are based on the value of the real estate, not the borrower’s creditworthiness. Since conventional lenders like banks are not the lenders, private lenders or firms are most interested in this business.

Also, these loans may be a good choice for property flippers who have plans to renovate a property and sell it again. Here you may be thinking the cost of this type of loan is quite high. But the good thing is that the extra cost is offset by the loan will be paid off rather quickly. In most cases, the loan is granted for a period of 1 to 3 years. Aside from this, they offer a lot of advantages as well.

Aside from this, this type of loan is considered a great investment as well. You can find a lot of people out there who have done this business and are happy with the practice.

Special Considerations

Typically, unlike the bank financing or the financing programs offered by government, the cost of these loans is quite higher for a typical buyer. However, this cost reflects the higher risk that the loan granter bears. But the great thing is that the extra cost is a worth it as the money is available quickly. The approval process is less stringent and the repayment schedule is also quite flexible.

Also, these loans can be a great choice to deal with turnaround situations. For instance, if you need money quickly for a short-term financing but you have poor credit score, you can give it a go. Since the amount is issued pretty quickly, you can use the funds to stave off a foreclosure, for instance.

Pros and Cons

Now, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of hard money loans.

Pros

First of all, the approval process is quite faster unlike the process of mortgage or a conventional loan. The thing is that private lenders are interested in this type of business as they can make decisions quickly without running a lot of checks. In other words, they won’t check your credit history. These are the steps that slow down the process and make the borrower wait for weeks.

Typically, these investors only care about the repayments. Plus, they have the opportunity to resell the property in case the borrower fails to make payments and becomes a defaulter.

Another advantage is that the lenders don’t apply the conventional underwriting process. Instead, they evaluate all of the cases one by one. Often, applicants can sit with the lender and discuss the repayment schedule based on their circumstances. Aside from this, borrowers can take advantage of a lot of opportunities during the time they have. So, this is another great advantage you can enjoy if you go for this option.

Cons

Since the real estate is used as a security against default, these loans feature lower LTV rations unlike the regular loans. This ration is between 50 and 70% unlike the ration of regular loans, which is 80%. However, if you are an experienced flipper, it can be even higher.

Aside from this, the interest rates of these loans are higher as well. For subprime loans, the rate of interest can be even higher. In 2019, for instance, the rates of hard money loans were between 7.5 and 15% based on the period the loan is granted for. By contrast, the prime interest rate was only 5.25% in the same period.

Another disadvantage is that these lenders may not offer loans against owner-occupied property because of compliance rules and regulatory oversight.

Hope, now you understand what hard money loans are and the pros and cons associated with them. For more information, you can consult your mortgage broker.