Skip to main content

How to Build a Smart Apartment

By April 26, 2022Smart Apartments

In a recent survey done by Park Associates, over 80% of U.S. multifamily home builders are looking for high-speed internet and over 60% rated smart thermostats and smart locks as highly popular features. 

In an always-evolving market, how can developers create buildings that are built for these new smart technologies? Planning ahead can help developers save on unnecessary costs and build a truly smart community. Here are five steps to get started on your smart apartments.

👋  Meet the author:
Usman Wajid, Director of Project Management

8 years of experience in project management

Leads the internal Homebase Mindfulness series

Currently pursuing his Master’s in Public Admin

“I am driven to create an environment that allows employees to grow and use their skills best. This helps us deliver a service and experience that is the gold standard, not just in this industry, but as a whole.”

Consider usability

As the construction industry meets the smart device era, things are changing. In the past, most general contractors would get devices like locks and thermostats from a subcontractor. Subcontractors were responsible for procuring the hardware and installing it. 

In the smart device era, this old model is no longer effective. Building a truly smart community is about more than installation. It is also about how devices are managed.  

Below are some questions to consider:

How will my residents interact with the smart devices?

Do residents need multiple apps to use the smart devices?

Can the property managers manage all the smart devices?

Developers who fail to consider these questions often end up creating a disjointed ordeal for residents and property managers. 

Bundle equipment, installation, and configuration

When developers acquire their smart equipment from subcontractors, they are overlooking the hidden costs of creating a seamless smart building experience. While subcontractors may be able to buy and install the equipment, they lack the ability to configure and manage smart devices. 

We often encounter disgruntled developers who are attempting to recover from this oversight. Usually, the decision to get equipment from subcontractors was made to save a few dollars. The result of these small savings is that residents and property managers require 3-4 apps to manage their smart devices. Instead of improving their lives with technology, developers have burdened them with the chore of managing multiple apps. Rectifying this situation requires more spending to get someone to configure and manage the smart technology. 

While developers are often bound by a strict budget, it is possible to curb spending while building for usability. The solution is procuring equipment from a smart technology company that also installs and configures devices.  By combining these costs with one proptech partner, developers save significantly in the long run. 

Design for internet

To install a smart community with maximum efficiency, the conversation should start with the architect while the plans are being drawn. Designing with high-speed internet in mind can save thousands of dollars. 

First, architects must understand what it requires to create a community network. The installation process begins with the Main Distribution Frame (MDF). The MDF is the main computer closet in the building.  This is where servers, hubs and routers reside. Depending on the size of the building, the MDF’s wires may be pulled into Independent Distribution Frame closets (IDFs). An IDF is a remote room with patch panels (hardware with multiple ports to group cables). Wires branch out from IDFs to each individual wireless access point (AP). Together, this structure provides the building with full-coverage, high-speed, community WiFi. 

Understanding how high-speed internet will be installed allows for cost-savings. It is best practice for the wire from the MDF to IDF closets to be no more than 300 feet long, so it helps to design the building with the MDF and IDF closets stacked on top of each other on each floor. Additional costs can be saved if all of these closets are centrally located. This reduces the distance that wires must travel to reach individual APs and the number of IT closets required. Starting the deployment of high-speed internet while the architect is drawing the design ensures that the building structure allows for efficient and cost-effective installation. 

Prepare for access control, thermostats, lights & more

There are many reasons to begin the process of creating a smart community when your architect is in the drawing phase. In addition to maximizing WiFi efficiency, it also allows smart building experts to help optimize access control, thermostats, and smart lighting.  There are many factors that impact the installation of these devices. By beginning the conversation early, architects can avoid unnecessary switches, reducing cost and increasing benefit. 

Choose a proptech partner

To build a smart community as efficiently as possible, it is essential to have a team of experts on your side.  

Here is how Homebase stacks up:

We bundle equipment, installation, and configuration to ensure that properties stay on budget and achieve the seamless smart community they crave.
Our Smart Building Experts work with architects to ensure that the building plans take WiFi and smart devices into consideration. 
Our app maximizes usability by integrating WiFi, access, thermostats and lights into a single platform.  Residents delight in the futuristic convenience of smart amenities and property managers save time and reduce workload with remote management. 
Our Customer Success team provides proactive WiFi network and smart device support to ensure that your smart community continues to run like a well-oiled machine.

Discuss your project with our experts and we’ll help you maximize efficiency as you build your smart community.


Homebase brings the smart apartment experience to new build and retrofit multifamily with trusted technology that delivers intuitive building access control with smart locks, automation of property management, new revenue with property-wide WiFi, and IoT technology amenities residents enjoy. All completely installed and managed for the multifamily innovation leaders of this decade.