The U.S. is currently in the midst of the largest home-rebuilding effort in recent history. According to the American Red Cross, 850,791 housing units were damaged, destroyed or left inaccessible in the wake of the costliest, and one of the deadliest, hurricanes in the history of this country.
So when the International Builders Show, the largest light construction show in the world, returns to Orlando, Fla. Feb. 7 to 10 next year, the more than 105,000 expected attendees will likely be in search of answers; and they will find them at The NextGen "First to the Future" Demonstration Home.
Far beyond your typical booth or exhibit, "First to the Future" is a complete, 2,700 square-foot home constructed in the parking lot of the Orange County Convention Center for the show that aims to give today's builders an up-close look at the future of home construction.
"The rebuilding is starting, and the focus is naturally not just on replacing these homes, but on learning from this disaster and replacing them with stronger, greener, more efficient and more connected homes," says Paul Barnett, president of iShow, producer of all the NextGen projects.
This is the fifth year a NextGen Home will be built at the show, and once again it will feature strong partnerships, with organizations such as the Institute for Business & Home Safety, PATH and NOAA.
"By building this house to our Fortified...for safer living(R) standard, everyone who visits will see that we have the know-how and ability to build homes that will stand up better to whatever hazards they face, and that it can be done affordably and without compromising the beauty of the structure," says Chuck Vance, Fortified program manager at the Institute for Business & Home Safety.
Approximately 15 technological advancements chosen by PATH (Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing) specifically for this demonstration home will also be showcased. "The technologies were chosen to address not only a one-time disaster, but longer term issues like moisture, mold and durability," explains Carlos Martin, a researcher with PATH.
Following the tremendous success of last year's home, this year's model will be bigger and better. The formerly one-story home will now reach to two, providing visitors with the opportunity to experience how seamlessly the latest technologies and features fit within a fully designed and furnished home, and then climb the stairs and get a rare look at the hidden assets of the home, like framing and insulation, through extensive models and cutaways.
"Builder excitement about Lifeware home control software has been amazing the past two years at IBS," said Mike Seamons, Vice President of Marketing for Exceptional Innovation, whose Lifeware home control software will automate the home's subsystems and digital entertainment electronics. "This year provides a unique opportunity to highlight the safety and security aspects of a home control solution like Lifeware, and that's an important and compelling feature set for builders and their homebuyers."