Smart Home Design: 10 Simple Steps to Seamless Integration
Create a list for your smart home design:
Before agreeing to designs, simply list (in writing) the technologies you desire most (eg: home theatre, security cameras, automated lighting). The benefit of doing this first is knowing what it is that is most important to you. Your builder and/or architect may offer you other suggestions down the track, but first, you should know firmly the end result you want to achieve, and write it down. Your technician and/or integrator will thank you for this clarity and they can then offer expert advice and planning accordingly.
Conceptualize your smart home design
Your smart home design idea with Builder/Architecture prior to any construction beginning. Now that you have your most desired outcome list of smart home technologies, it is time to allow the builder and/or architect to use their experience to conceptualize your connected smart home design. There is yet one more professional that needs to come to the table, but they need to be guided within the construction limitations set by the builder.
Engaging the right tradesman:
Your builder may already have a preferred list of contractors, and it is important that they have worked together and understand how to cooperate with integrators. Only engage contractors who work together with this type of technology, it is most common for electricians to work alongside with integrators and cooperation is key to success. You may also need to engage separate security contractors, HVAC, and IT professionals. Your integrator needs to be able to pull all of these areas together and ‘Integrate’ them within one technology that will control your house.
Choosing your control system:
This may be difficult if you do not have any prior knowledge to smart home design control systems. There are quite a few on the market and the training required for the technological programming skills for each product are unique. Therefore you will most probably discover that your integrator will refer and recommend a technology that they already understand and has training for. So be warned, there is a bias here to say that one particular control system is better than the other. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Best to look at past projects and ask for a demonstration if need be.
Before you pour concrete:
Your smart home design will most probably need some form of access control for either an intercom, pedestrian gate, driveway gate and so forth. Therefore groundwork preparations must be adequate for the necessary cabling and any future maintenance. Once the concrete has been poured, there is no turning back.
Pre-wire your smart home
Your smart home design will be more robust with adequate cabling throughout the home, despite the wireless technology improving in leaps and bounds, there is no substitute for hard-wired cabling infrastructure. Take advantage of the framework in the beginning. Put adequate cabling throughout the house and also allow for redundancies and any future advancements in technology. Excess cable during a pre-wire is more cost effective than the labour post construction for any variations or afterthoughts at completion.
Documentation: Keep a smart home wiring guide
Ensure that your integrator, electrician, security technician and HVAC specialist all provide you with detailed documentation about the products they are using, the wiring diagrams and cable schedules. The integrator needs to be able to identify all the above for accurate smart home design and the more detail the integrator will have, the more efficient the project can be handled. This will also help with upgrades and faults into the future.
Warranties: Smart Home Products
Always look into product warranties and support for ongoing maintenance. In the past, there have been technology companies that go out of business leaving the homeowner stuck and left with little choice for how to move forward in the case of maintenance and upgrades.
Ongoing Smart Home Costs:
You need to factor in that a good integrator will regularly maintain his project. It is unfortunate that there are no turnkey solutions in this area of technology, that is because technology is software based and software products ALWAYS require updating (think of your iPhone, your computer, etc). Also, because manufacturing is done at low cost and on a grand scale it means the turnover of electronic goods are quite high. 30 Years ago a Television lasted a lifetime. Today you are lucky to get 3 years. These high turnover items will need to be replaced at some stage, it’s a fact of life in today’s marketplace.
System Care: Smart Home Maintenance
When you purchase a Mercedes Benz (or any prestige vehicle) you will undoubtedly take care of it, use high-quality fuel, the best oil, good tires, regular servicing and take care of the appearance. All of the above comes at a cost of maintaining the prestige vehicle and your smart home design needs to be respected in the same manner. With regular care and maintenance, you should have the best experience using your connected home and eliminate any bugs that arise with technology over time.