Construction innovations: would a Russian consumer like to use smart technologies?

Construction innovations: would a Russian consumer like to use smart technologies?
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What prevents Russian developers from the integration and elaboration of smart technologies?

The national market of residential realty is trying to become innovative. What does Russian-style construction know-how mean? Will there be a breakthrough on the newbuild’s market – or is it our destiny to copy foreign discoveries whilst lagging behind by 10—15 years? When will the Russian consumer come to terms with the idea of a “smart” house? Russian developers’ forecasts are very diverging.


Not new technologies and developers’ economy

Many of the so-called new technologies applied to the newbuilds’ market may be considered innovations only in Russia, Deputy Director of the “D-invest” LLC, Denis Volkov, thinks. He is sure that 95% of the buildings should be knocked down due to their lagging behind modern European standards by 50 years, as far as people’s comfort and health are concerned. 

Following him, the concept of considering projects according to their construction primary cost “died” long ago. The civilised realty market evaluates realty according to its “life cycle”. However, many developers give priority to the primary cost and not the actual operation, with the results being felt by consumers during winter, when they stay inside at temperatures below 16°C and both the windows freeze and walls are so cold that the heating system had no effect. 

Construction innovations: would a Russian consumer like to use smart technologies?

A modern building and the notion of comfort in relation to a building is not an abstract idea. Rather, there are a number of engineering factors with special criteria which can be measured. For instance, comfortable conditions (natural lighting, noise insulation) have proven themselves to influence the children’s progress at school.

The same refers to residential housing, but the majority of consumers on the national market do not think about it.

Might comfort be taught?

The unpretentious style of a modern consumer is also noted by Pavel Lepish, Director of Commerce of the KORTOS GC in the Moscow region. 

According to research carried out by the company, people appreciate traditional features, such as a balcony in a flat, improved territory, and the quality of the windows. Many innovations and technical things are not even considered. They are not even sure if they need Wi-Fi on the territory of a residential compound. However, developers should implement these innovations because they are profitable and convenient, Lepish thinks.

Much is presently spoken about “smart” houses and flats, but little has been actually implemented in Russia. We worry more about the growing communal payments, the expert says, but technologies help to save optimising expenses. 

Construction innovations: would a Russian consumer like to use smart technologies?

According to him, the annual economy might be up by 75% after introducing innovations, because they minimise risks where engineering networks are used, plus are convenient and safe. Experience proves that the safety and control level is much higher in districts equipped with cameras.

Many options of a “smart” house are already demanded and work either separately or in packages. But this technology needs to be expanded both in Moscow and other regions.


Well forgotten old

But the fact is that housing buyers are intellectually lower than modern technologies: some potential residents coming to a house that has “all of the possible equipment” prefer to act on their old habits. If it is hot they open a window instead of using the regulating device in the heating system, or even the special climate control.

The main trend of modern housing construction is wider use of engineering solutions and equipment not only in elite class housing but also in the comfort class one. Although we hear a lot about the successful implementation of many innovation solutions, it is not so good actually, the expert thinks. For instance, only 35% of new developments have underground parking in the Moscow region, while in Moscow itself it is better at 70%, to say nothing of the other regions. The majority of innovation solutions that provide for comfortable living, the forming of a friendly environment, and an urban eco-system for residents are realised in the sector of low- and medium-rise construction. The percentage of such solutions in high-rise construction is very low. 

The appearance of advanced technologies on the modern market, though lagging behind Europe, is a big step forward for developers. And their impatience for the innovations they invested in to bring payback is quite understandable.

Construction innovations: would a Russian consumer like to use smart technologies?

As far as “illiterate” consumers and overly practical constructors are concerned, their behaviour is explained easily, as constructors try to minimise their expenses in unsteady economic conditions, and consumers “spoilt by the housing problem” are glad to have their own housing, as such. And if they have to choose either to move as soon as possible in regular housing or to wait until it is equipped with some modern extras, most of them will choose the first variant.

But that does not mean that all know-hows on the market should be rejected. It will take some time and effort yet for the advanced technologies to assimilate into our reality.