Home of the future here today in UK

The pace at which today's luxuries become tomorrow's necessities is accelerating faster than a test car driven by Jeremy Clarkson.

And nowhere is this truer than in the field of home technology, which has developed out of all recognition in recent years.

The concept of a smart home which anticipates the homeowner's needs and desires has been the stuff of science fiction for decades.

Now, as a result of the efforts of companies such as Stirling-based Hometech Integration Ltd, home-buyers are beginning to expect as standard the structured cabling which enables the system - and walking away if the home isn't up to speed.

Developers have not been slow to latch on to the marketing allure of integrated systems within the home and many are now using Hometech systems as incentives in place of previously popular cashback offers or help with legal fees.

Apart from the sheer fun of having a smart system in the house, sophisticated buyers are aware that the technology could also put money in their pockets.

A recent survey indicated that properties with smart technology could achieve up to 30% higher values on resale than their un-modernised equivalents.

Hometech is a market leader in the installation and integration of the hi-tech structured cabling which underpins all the bells and whistles of the home entertainment package which is used by several builders, including Quality Street, Stewart Milne, Miller Homes and Manor Kingdom.

Kirstin Anderson, of Hometech, said: "The great majority of our systems go into new-build developments, where they can be integrated into the construction process.

"However, we are seeing increasing demand from private clients, both self-builders and renovators. Obviously, the technical challenges of installation in older properties are greater, but for many people the benefits are outweighing the difficulties."

So what are the advantages of a smart home system? Essentially, cabling is installed behind the walls, under the floor and above the ceiling to allow easy installation of as much or as little technical enhancement as the homeowner desires. Everything is controlled from a central, easily accessible panel.

It means that plasma-screen home cinema, with ceiling speakers providing the same sound systems used by Hollywood, can be controlled from one master remote - in tune with today's uncluttered lifestyle.

Ceiling speakers deliver variable audio to any room in the house, all at the touch of a button.

Data points in every room allow users to set up a laptop or PC to get online - ideal for those who work from home.

Heating and lighting can be controlled in zones so that energy is directed where it's needed and wasteful consumption is eliminated. The system can even programme energy-hungry washing machines and dishwashers to take advantage of cheap electricity periods.

Security can also be enhanced.

Stuart Dalziell, estate agency manager at DMH Baird Lumsden, which markets developments across Scotland, said: "Only a few years ago, an en-suite bathroom was regarded as a bit of a luxury. Now it is simply expected. It is the same with smart home technology.

"The system is so sophisticated, yet easy to use, that it is only a matter of time before it becomes as integral a part of a home as a fridge or a washing machine. It is energy-efficient, environmentally friendly and it makes our lives easier and more fun. This is what progress should be about."