November 14, 2007
| by Lisa Montgomery
It’s not unusual to see bears, moose and mountain lions strolling across Gunter and Gloria Preuss’s backyard. The animals are as much a part of the landscape as the rough terrain that hugs the homeowner’s unique 10,000-square-foot log home. Constructed of huge western red cedar logs harvested from the forests of British Columbia, the house looks at ease with its mountain surroundings. The way Gunter and Gloria live in this handcrafted home, however, is much different from its old-style design. “Log homes were built at a time when people used candles and lanterns for light,” says electronic systems installer Jason Perez of Conundrum Technologies in Denver. “[These types of homes] just aren’t meant to have technology.”
Au contraire. This log beauty is brimming with sophisticated electronic systems. There’s a Vantage/LeGrand Q architectural lighting system; motorized Lutron Sivoia QED window shades; a corporate-style Panasonic phone system; an Audio Design Associates Suite 16 whole-house music system; an amazing home theater setup; and a handful of flat-panel TVs, built-in speakers and top-grade A/V components throughout. An AMX home control system ties all of the electronic pieces together into one neat package that enables the homeowners to conveniently monitor and operate every system and device from specially designed touchpanels located in key areas of the house. By pressing a goodbye button on any AMX panel, for example, Gunter and Gloria can set the security system, turn off the lights, lower the thermostats and shut the motorized drapes within seconds. This setting is just one of many that were programmed into the AMX system by the design and installation crew at Conundrum Technologies, and according to the Preusses, it’s an arrangement that’s made life in their new home amazingly simple, efficient and comfortable. “This home is 10 times bigger than the cabin we used to live in, so we knew it would naturally be more complicated to manage,” says Gunter. “Having some type of control system in place to help us with the day-to-day was always part of our plan.”
Sweating the Small Stuff
Having a clear vision is always helpful when building a high-tech house, but in the Preusses’ case, knowing where everything would go was absolutely critical. Each one of the logs that would comprise the home was cut and drilled at the milling factory in Canada according to wiring and electronics schematics supplied by Conundrum Technologies. Using special tools, the craftsmen at Pioneer Log Homes in Williams Lake, BC, notched out spaces for in-wall touchpanels and keypads and bore channels for the miles of wiring that would link together the various electronic systems. Once the prefabricated logs arrived at the construction site, they would be impossible to modify. “Everything had to be designed perfectly before the house was constructed,” relates Perez. “Ordinarily, we’re able to prewire and change equipment locations as a house is being built, but for this project, we had to be particularly precise with our plans before we started.”
Their precision paid off. Music travels seamlessly to dozens of speakers perfectly positioned within the walls and ceilings, while custom-designed light fixtures brighten and dim to set the mood for anything from a dinner party to a quiet night at home. Thermostats and motorized window shades adjust on command to maintain a comfortable indoor climate, and a dedicated theater room offers a special spot for the homeowners to watch their eclectic collection of live concert DVDs.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.