It's probably ranked one of the top 10 most hated chores. Vacuuming, especially in a multilevel home, can not only be tedious but also back-breaking work. Lugging around an upright vacuum up and down several levels of stairs is enough to send homebuyers looking for single-story houses.
But these days, limited land space is forcing builders to build up instead of out. So many developers are getting creative with their homes by offering conveniences that were at one time just seen in luxury homes. These builder additions are making housework nearly as satisfying as breathing in a breath of fresh air.
In El Cajon, California, Priest Homes is building new housing completely pre-plumbed for central vacuum technology.
"It's mainly convenience and air quality," says Douglas Thigpen, IT Manager for Priest Development Corporation.
Priest Homes is the developer and builder of two new projects. Prospect Glen in Santee offers 48 new detached, two-story homes, while their Park Avenue development offers 103 multilevel single-family row homes.
"It's a lot easier to lug a tube or the hose for the vacuum up and down the stairs or throughout the house and just plug it in any of the walls, rather than lug a full upright vacuum up and down three-story homes," says Thigpen.
It seems like homes are being modeled after an episode of the cartoon show The Jetsons where everything is about ease and comfort in a snap. In a highly busy, overloaded world homeowners are seeking housing that offers standard options that lighten the load and simplify housework.
"The vacuum unit itself is located, in our projects, in the garage. There are little openings on the floor in each room that you plug in a hose or in the kitchen there is a kick plate that you can hit a button next to the kick plate with your foot and it'll open up and you can sweep stuff into it and it gets sucked out into the vacuum in the garage," says Thigpen.
Okay, so there's no robot maid like Rosie from The Jetsons that comes along and does 100 percent of the cleaning; but Thigpen says these types of vacuum systems are not only easier but also cleaner and cheaper than most high-end upright vacuums.
"With traditional upright vacuums, the dust stirs around the air ... with central vacuums the [dirt] gets sucked out of the living space completely. So you don't have the dust hanging around," says Thigpen.
Priest Homes uses the Beam System for its homes; however, there are many different types of central vacuums.
Basically, the systems are built-in vacuums that link a hose and some sort of attachment such as an electric lightweight powerbrush to a central power unit and a collection canister. The piping is installed through the interior walls, crawl spaces, basement, attic areas or wherever necessary.
Central vacuums only represent about two percent of the total U.S. vacuum category, but industry experts say central systems are growing rapidly. According to one study on the technology, as much as 70 percent of vacuum sales volume is generated through builder channels for new home construction.
If you're not in the market for a new home industry experts say about 95 percent of existing homes can be retrofitted for central vacuum systems.