Whether you’re planning on adding a 7.1 home theater, want to create curb energy use or need electronic systems that’ll make your life more efficient and convenient, it pays to be a good customer.
According to custom electronics professionals (CE pros), there are certain things you can do to ensure that the project runs smoothly and that the technology his firm designs and installs for you satisfies all your needs. In speaking with CE pros throughout the years, I’ve come up with a list of 10 ways to guarantee high-tech success in your home.
1. Know your priorities. What’s your biggest hot button? Is it watching movies in high-def or having music play wherever you go? Maybe you’re more concerned with streamlining the control of the lights in your house. List your priorities from top to bottom, and get every member of your family involved in the process. This will help your CE pro decide where to focus the bulk of your budget.
2. Have a budget. Speaking of budget, it’s a good idea to at least have a ballpark figure in mind. If you know approximately how much you can spend, your installer will have an easier time picking out products that’ll meet both your priorities and your budget.
3. Share your story. Believe it or not, your lifestyle, schedule and routines are of interest to your CE pro. The fact that you wake up at 7, work until 6 and go to bed at 11 may seem mundane to you, but information like this is critical to the workings of your systems. With it, your CE pro will be able to set up a schedule for the lights and thermostats to adjust automatically throughout the day.
4. Attend meetings. Particularly for projects where technology will be installed during the construction of a home, it’s common for the CE pro, architect, builder, interior designer and other subcontractors to meet weekly. It’s helpful if you also attend these meetings. You’ll be able to share your input and answer any questions they might have.
5. Maintain contact. It’s inevitable that you’ll run into a few hiccups during the project. Be sure that your CE pro is able to reach you to throughout the project so collectively you can decide how to proceed.
6. Be willing to compromise. Some of hiccups may require some form of compromise. For example, the perfect spot for viewing your built-in TV might have a heating duct in the way. Your CE pro, will likely suggest a different location. Hear him out and be willing to deviate from the original plan.
What you need to know about Lighting Control.
7. Stay the course. There’s nothing more difficult for a CE pro to deal with than a client who changes his or her mind continually during the course of a project. Asking for a different product, like a larger TV, can often jeopardize the entire project. In this case, your CE pro may need to modify the size of the cabinet, readjust the position of the speakers and maybe even redo the construction plans so that the room can accommodate a larger screen. All this will cost you time and money.
8. Do your homework – but not too much. It’s always a good idea to educate yourself before undertaking any project, but understand that your CE pro know which products work best together and which don’t. Even though you’ve read nothing but good reviews on a certain surround-sound receiver, for example, it may not be the right one for your type of A/V system. Leave product selection to your CE pro.
9. Expect follow-up. The more you live with your systems, the more you understand how you’d like the electronics to perform. For example, the 50 percent brightness setting you and your CE pro originally agreed on for the hallway lights may seem too dim after you’ve lived in your house for a month or two. Expect your systems to be tweaked a few times after the installation is complete.
10. Spread the word. If your CE pro does a good job, tell other people about it. Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising. Who knows—if you connect your CE pro with a new customer, he just might give you a deal on your next project.
Check out this impressive Before and After project in a 24,000 square foot home.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.