Lennar’s homes in Ridgefield boast a high IQ

The Columbian

Lennar’s Kennedy Farm community  in Ridgefield showcases two stunning collections of new home designs including open layouts, Everything’s Included® features plus Lennar’s innovative Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ Home Design. With models now open, there’s no better time than now to visit this remarkable neighborhood and discover your dream home at Kennedy Farm. Learn more in this The Columbian article.

Lennar’s Kennedy Farm community is one of several developments in Clark County from the national homebuilding company. And as one of the newest developments, it serves as a “smart homes” showcase — displaying a suite of devices that can be remotely controlled using Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.

The features now are standard with houses by Lennar, the United States’ largest home construction company. Lennar embarked on the smart homes program in partnership with Amazon in the summer of 2017.

The rollout came to Lennar’s Orchards office — which serves Portland and Southwest Washington — in November 2017.

All Lennar homes built in the region after that point — such as homes at the Kennedy Farm subdivision, which is located next to the new View Ridge Middle School in Ridgefield — come with the smart home features.

“Any community in our division open after November 2017 has the technology,” says Kelli Cunningham, Lennar director of sales at the Orchards office.

So far, feedback from Vancouver- and Portland-area homebuyers has been enthusiastic, she says. In fact, the Orchards office created a position called “Home Automation Specialist” to help buyers understand the technology.

“What we’re hearing,” Cunningham says, “is ‘what took so long?’”

Some of the smart home features will be readily apparent for visitors walking around a model homes at Kennedy Farm. There are Alexa devices in the kitchen and bedroom, and the front doorbell camera and thermostat are clearly high-tech devices.

Some features are subtle. You might not realize that the TV, all of the lights and even the living room window shades are all connected to Alexa until you instruct the kitchen unit to switch to “movie time” and watch as the living room transforms itself into a darkened home theater.

The movie-time command is just a placeholder for the model unit, Cunningham said. Alexa can be taught any number of specific phrases that trigger customized sets of adjustments to the lighting, shades and smart music speakers.

Homebuyers and visitors will likely interpret the phrase “smart home” to refer to gadgets and commands. But Cunningham says that from Lennar’s perspective, the program’s core feature is the house’s Wi-Fi network.

Lennar’s smart homes feature built-in Wi-Fi networks that are designed to provide a clear, wireless signal anywhere in the house, using designs certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, an organization that owns the Wi-Fi trademark and certifies products to ensure compatibility.

“We make sure there’s absolutely no dead zones in your home,” Cunningham says.

That’s the foundational feature that guarantees all of the baseline smart devices will work, Cunningham says. And it provides a level of standardization to ensure that future devices can be seamlessly integrated into the network, including other devices that homebuyers might want to add.

Amazon makes the Alexa software and devices, but most of the smart hardware comes from other companies. Baldwin supplies the locks, the thermostat comes from Honeywell, the video doorbell is produced by Ring, and most of the lights and shades come from Lutron.

Those manufacturers aren’t the only makers of each of kind of smart device, but they were chosen by Lennar through a vetting process to be included in the company’s new homes. Lennar chose a set of devices that emphasized secure communications, Cunningham says, and there are also some common-sense restrictions. The front door, for example, can be locked via a voice command, but it has to be unlocked either manually or via a smartphone app.

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