Will the home-improvement market bounce back in 2015 with the help of construction technology? One technology that could possibly play a role in the future is home automation—and remodelers might want to take advantage.

According to the most recent LIRA (Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity) from the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, www.jchs.harvard.edu, Cambridge, Mass., home-improvement spending is expected to ease to 3.1% through the second quarter of 2015.

Still, according to Abbe Will, research analyst, Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center, many areas of the country will remain economically healthy, with remodeling contractor sentiment still high.

How can remodeling contractors differentiate in a slow economy? In a word, technology. Whether it is software used in the office, mobile devices used at the jobsite, or automation technology put in new homes, builders can leverage technology to differentiate.

The smart home is one way that builders can differentiate and the use of technologies in the home is growing. Consider the recent survey released by the CEA (Consumer Electronics Assn.), www.ce.org, Arlington, Va., and Parks Associates, www.parksassociates.com, Dallas, Texas, which says smart-home devices will reach 20.7 million units in 2014 and are projected to increase to 35.9 million units by 2017.

What does this mean for residential builders? First of all, homebuilders will need to allow for smart-device functionality when building these homes—as well as incorporate smart thermostats, door locks, smoke detectors, and light switches when building homes.

As remodelers and homebuilders look to new opportunities in the year ahead, home automation could prove to be a differentiator.