People buying houses in new subdivisions springing up around Nashville often ask if there will be a pool or a playground for the kids and open spaces for adults, but there’s a new question at the top of their list.
Does the neighborhood have high-speed internet service?
“There are two questions we get asked. Can we build a pool, and who’s providing internet service and what speed?” said James Carbine, president of Carbine & Associates.
The company’s newest neighborhood, The Mill at Bond Springs, will have gigabit-speed internet service. That’s enough bandwidth to download a movie in moments. In a business, dozens of workers could use their computers at the same time.
Home schooling and home offices are no problem.
“It’s an all-fiber community” with all the homes connected to underground fiber optic cables, said Carbine, whose other recent communities, Water Leaf, Southern Preserve and Natures Landing, are similarly equipped.
“So many people are working from home,” said Carbine.
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Telecommuting is the new norm
Carbine & Associates recently began work on The Mill at Bond Springs, a boutique community that will have just 55 homes on 115 acres. It is south of Interstate 840 in Williamson County. Three other companies — Cadence Construction, Hewn Custom Home Design and Heritage Homes — are also building in the neighborhood.
Not long ago, the No. 1 question on many homebuyers’ minds was the availability of city water and sewer service. That’s changed, said David McGowan, president of Regent Homes.
“You have to have a working internet system the day you sell the house,” he said.
With many offices closed for social distancing, more people are telecommuting than ever before. But even before the pandemic, smart phones and tablets made it unnecessary for many professionals to go to an office.
“You think of how much work is done at home,” said McGowan. “And home schooling today.”
Home schooling will become even more common, he said. Nashville is committing $24 million to purchase 90,000 Dell computers and 17,000 internet hotspots so students in the city’s public schools can learn remotely.
Home buyers might check the water pressure in the shower or clock the drive to their favorite grocery store. Now they also time their downloads.
“We have actually had buyers verify the internet speed before they buy the house. They are working part- or full-time from the house,” said McGowan.
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Internet built into infrastructure
In neighborhoods like Carothers Farms in Nolensville, Regent wires its homes to handle gigabyte-speed service. The neighborhood has stacked flat condos, townhomes, live-work townhomes with commercial space on the first floor and living space upstairs, cottage homes and larger estate homes.
The neighborhood is situated between I-24 and I-65, making for short commutes to downtown Nashville, Murfreesboro, Franklin and Maryland Farms. Those quick commutes are still important, but so are quick download times.
“Internet in the modern house is as important as water coming into that house,” said McGowan.
Ole South, one of the area’s largest builders, installs a wiring center in every home with internet service lines running to each cable outlet in the home. There are also electrical outlets for routers and other wireless components.
When Ole South develops a neighborhood, it installs the infrastructure for internet service. And when the company builds in a neighborhood started by someone else, it makes sure the infrastructure is in place.
“We install the framework that allows today’s buyer to utilize available technology to the extent they choose, as well as adapt to new technologies as they develop,” said Old South Vice President Trey Lewis.
Willow Branch Homes, which builds in Williamson County, near Murfreesboro and in Nashville’s Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood, makes technology part of the conversation when clients are planning their homes.
“Our team has focused on technologies like HD video doorbells, internal smart hubs and smart thermostats. We also know that some clients need and want more, so that’s why we have a technology design meeting so clients can add exactly what they want in their homes before we start building their dream home,” said Jeffrey Caruth, vice president of sales and marketing for Willow Branch.