INTERESTED IN BUILDING A SMART HOME? HERE’S SOME CRUCIAL ADVICE!
Wow! There’s so much to think about here!
As you can imagine, every detail that goes into making your home “smart” must be carefully planned for and mapped out in advance. Consider that although smart home technology seems to make things happen “like magic,” there is a lot of activity going on behind the scenes. Your home will have a technological life of its own in the form of a brain (control processor), nervous system (network), circulatory system (cabling), eyes (cameras and lighting), ears (microphones), and mouth (speakers) in order to function as the security guard, social director, and butler of your home all rolled into one. That is no small order, and each body part must be compatible with the brain and nervous system in order for everything to work without glitches.
First and foremost, know that the coveted smart home technological features will not even be included in the architectural drawings unless you insist on it, and insist on it from the beginning. It is imperative that you hire a competent AV Technology Integrator at the same time that you hire your architect, builder, and interior designer, and ensure that they are kept informed as each phase of the building process progresses!
What will happen if you don’t do that? You’ll do a walk-through just before closing and discover that you don’t have a smart home! You arrive at the front door with the realtor, who unlocks the door with a key. “Wait,” you say, “I wanted a smart lock, a video doorbell, and security cameras at the front door.” You look up, searching for a security camera, and don’t see one. You step away from the door to scan the roof line of the house and see no camera there, either. You shift your gaze back towards the door, and you see an elegant, but simple, old-fashioned doorbell. You’ve watched videos about the Doorbird™ video doorbell that you wanted, so you know that there should be a smart panel device mounted on the wall near the door. But it’s not there. Seeing the shock and displeasure on your face, your realtor says, “Not to worry! That’s why we do walk-throughs! I’ll simply make a note of it on the checklist and immediately address it with the builder. I’m sure it can be resolved before closing. Let’s just continue with the walk-through.”
You agree to proceed because, surely, this is just a one-off mistake!
Unfortunately, that is not the case. Upon entering the home, you find that no smart home technology has been integrated into your dream home, and suddenly your world is falling apart!
That scenario is probably extreme, but it could happen if no one thinks to involve “the AV guy” from the get-go!
What happens, more often than not, is that the technological smarts are treated as an afterthought, rather than a vital, integral part of the homebuilding process from the ground up. Everyone involved in the planning phase simply assumes that the smart home technology can be easily added at any time and without negative consequences.
RECOGNIZE THE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES
Let’s look at a few smart home technologies that are favorites with homeowners and what will happen if they are not included in the initial architectural drawings and workflow processes.
A current trend in smart home technology is the use of motorized, automated window treatments, like those from Crestron™. If you’re building a mansion, or any large home, there are going to be lots of windows. It would be overwhelming to open and close all of those blinds as needed each day, but automation makes it a snap! Using either an app on your phone or Crestron™ touch panel, or even Josh.ai™ voice control, you can create a pre-set scenario that automatically opens the blinds at sunrise in selected areas of your home and closes them at sunset. And at any time of day or night, you can use the same smart technology to open or close the blinds in any room or area of your home.
Talk about a lifesaver! The thought of having just that one labor-saving feature integrated into your new home is truly exciting!
As mentioned above, you will have to take the lead to ensure that all accommodations for your automated shades are included on the drawings for your home. Your AV Technology Integrator will happily work with your architect to ensure that accommodations are made in the design of the home for the network cables, power connections, and motor box for each window involved, and will diligently check to make sure that every last detail is included on the blueprints. This will make it possible for all components involved to be installed at the ideal point in the building process. For example, cables should ideally be run before the sheetrock walls go up, and if the motor boxes are to be installed above the ceiling, that obviously should be done before the ceiling goes up.
Another popular feature in large homes is a customized home theater. Of course, all of the technology involved must be accounted for, but the technology itself would not be the biggest issue. In this case, the biggest issue would be that the room itself was not properly designed for optimum acoustic characteristics as it was being built. In other words, the sound quality within the theater would be poor, and that sound would annoyingly be heard throughout the home. In order to achieve true cinema-quality sound, and to keep that sound confined within the theater, it must be sound-proofed. Specially-made wool insulation must be added between the studs, stud bays, ceiling joists, floor joists, and the sheetrock and sub-flooring. In addition, specialized construction adhesive must be applied to the studs as the sheet rock goes up. Obviously, the general contractor and all other associated tradesmen involved need to know about this in advance so that it is not overlooked as the construction progresses into each phase. And the way to do that is to ensure that all specifications concerning the theater are a part of the blueprints.
To round out this discussion, let’s talk about just one more coveted feature in a smart home: high-quality whole-home distributed audio. This feature requires a multitude of ceiling speakers placed strategically throughout the home, along with the associated cabling that feeds them. And what else is going to be mounted in the ceiling throughout the home, in direct competition with those speakers? Light fixtures, of course, which are routinely added to the architectural drawings as a matter of habit. The speakers, however, are not routinely added, even though they must compete for space with those fixtures and be placed in perfect alignment with them in order to achieve a pleasing aesthetic effect. If those speakers and their proper placement is not annotated on the initial architectural drawings in conjunction with the light fixtures, it will create major headaches for the AV Integration Team as they try to space them out in the ceiling for optimum acoustic and aesthetic effects.
In addition, if there is a ceiling area in the home that is scheduled to have a mural painted on it, it is absolutely critical that your AV Integrator be aware of it. It is crucial that specialized, invisible speakers, such as those made by Sonance™ or Origin Acoustics™, be installed in that particular ceiling area, and for that work (involving both the sheetrock crew and the AV Integrator) to be completed prior to the arrival of the muralist. Otherwise, that much-sought-after artist will arrive to find either speaker holes cut out of his overhead palette, or speakers already mounted there that cannot be artistically painted over. At that point, the muralist will leave and may not be back for many months, since the invisible-style speakers must be ordered, installed, and properly mudded over before he can do his work. This irritating and costly delay could have been avoided if the speakers would have been in the initial plans laid out by the architect!
At this point, we’ve discussed just three AV systems typically included in a smart home, and the consequences of not accounting for them in your homebuilding process. Tune in next week for more information on this subject. We want to assist you in understanding the essential “ins and outs” of building a smart home!
To schedule a consultation with a professional AV Integrator during your home construction process, please call AV Enthusiast at 256.882.5081.
Alternatively, simply drop by our showroom at 514 Madison Street in Huntsville Monday – Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM or Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM.
We look forward to meeting you!
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