Builders’ Tip: Turn Features from Optional to Standard
by Michael Stram
A lot can be learned from the automobile industry and the evolution of what is now standard in today’s cars. One would be hard-pressed to find a new car that does not come with a stereo system, climate control, power windows, power locks, anti-lock brakes and other features that years ago were considered optional.
The automotive industry’s move from making technological functions optional to standard may include competitive advantage and differentiation. But changes in customer attitudes in products and services have evolved.
Consumers are now accustomed to amenities and these expectations have caused a major shift in how products are offered. Special features that were once tagged with extra costs are now bundled in standard packages.
Builders are looking for ways to make the most of their bottom line. A second look in how home technologies are marked as optional and standard is worth the effort. Buyers have more homes to pick from. What is already included as a standard option may be the one factor in choosing that particular home as opposed to what the other builder is offering down the street.
Buyers are smarter now, more in-tune with technology—and they rely on their builder, architect and to provide all necessary information regarding their new home or remodeling project. Most lack the time necessary to learn about proper wiring techniques, types of cables, placement of components—and they look to their home builder to take care of them.
Builder Tips for Preparing the Home for Technology
Take a close look at who is wiring your homes.
Have you partnered with an electronic systems contractor (ESC)? What are their qualifications, and are they CEDIA certified? What exactly are they wiring for? What options are available and how do they represent you? Does their showroom reflect the type of quality your homes do?
- Use generic wiring.
When you put your plan together with your electronic systems contractor, make sure they are not wiring your homes for proprietary equipment that only they sell. Your wiring should be generic enough to allow your home buyers to select equipment and services from virtually any provider.
- Wire before the walls are up.
The wiring in your homes is the foundation of how smart your homes can be. It's important to keep in mind that there is only one chance to do it right the first time. After drywall, wiring is very difficult and nobody wants to carve up their new house or have a remodeling project to add wires.
- Get involved and increase your knowledge.
Know what your clients’ options are, know what you’re providing and have answers to their questions. Your ESC should be more of a partner with you — helping you choose and market the technology options. ESCs help to improve each home you build. Today’s best builders align themselves with CEDIA Certified ESCs who offer full-service electronic systems design, installation and service. This is much more powerful than simply someone running wires.
- Both ends of the wires should be in the same location.
It is important to know where two ends of the wire are located — both should be in the same place. You may know the end of the wire sticking out of the ceiling is for a ceiling speaker or that the end of the wire in the outlet box is for the TV outlet. But it’s also key to question — where is the other end?
- Pick a central location to keep the outbound wire runs short.
This also offers easy access for servicing and loading media. Locate the structured wiring panel and allow an equipment rack to be located right in front of it. Add a 20-amp dedicated electrical circuit, ventilation, and then run all your low-voltage wiring here—including alarm system cables, telephones and intercoms, doorbells, satellite dish wiring, etc.
This is the simplest and least expensive way for all of your systems to be connected to each other, and it provides the most options for the life of the property. These options include basic cable and phone connections to a complete interactive AV system called distributed HDTV. Distributed HDTV reduces clutter by taking away the need for cable boxes and DVD players.
Having the ability to place all the equipment at the structured wiring panel allows for these types of clean installations — with just the TV mounted on the wall and no equipment showing. The advantages are numerous. Each room is still free to be independent of all others, yet shares the common equipment such as DVD players, media servers, DVRs, Internet access and computer networking benefits. And best yet, any budget can be accommodated.
When wiring a house, the methodology is just as important as the types and quantities of wires used. Don’t allow your sub-systems to be located in different places. With a wiring plan in place — marketing is important. Highlight and promote home technologies as key features. You’ll soon see that technology helps sell homes.
Michael Stram founded of Stram Electronics' Home Theater Gallery in Tampa, FL. in 1988, to provide service to all types of electronic Systems. This side-job provided weekend work wiring homes, installing phone & intercom systems, marine electronics servicing, etc. Mike’s company has grown steadily over the years and it now is leading the charge as a prominent electronic systems contracting firm in Tampa Bay. For more information, he can be contacted at 813-831-8551 or Mike@HomeTheaterGallery.com.
This article is provided by CEDIA (Custom Electronics Design & Installation Association).
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