Recently one of my clients asked us to introduce him to our low-voltage contractor to discuss structured wiring in his custom 7,000-sq.-ft. single-family home. Paul, who’s naturally thorough and detailed, an analyst and an IT specialist for a Wall Street investment firm, decided to get familiar with structured wiring.
Structured wiring combines all communications wiring into one system, which may include wiring for a home network, telephone, video, audio, alarms, infrared remote control and Internet remote access to all home systems. The main advantage of a structured wiring system is having a central location where all wiring returns to a single control room.
It was not long before Paul knew what he wanted to accomplish. Then I asked Paul the following questions:
Q: What are your primary objectives in the design of your system?
A1: To design a home system that is “future-proof.” So, prior to sheetrock, I elected to put in as much wiring in the walls as I possibly could. For my home network capability, nothing beats a wired network for security and reliability. We included fiber in the cable bundle to allow for high-bandwidth, high-definition content to be routed throughout the home.
A2: The ability to access my media from anywhere in the house. We wired the house to enable media to be stored/located in one place but played/viewed/listened to anywhere in the house.
A3: To achieve lighting automation. Given the size of the house and number of lights, we didn’t want huge six-, eight- and 10-gang light switches where you need a labeling system to decide which switch does what. This was a primary reason for the control room setup.
Q: Paul, what website resources were most helpful?
A: The following websites helped: smarthome.com; lutron.com; litetouch.com; kaleidescape.com; axonics.com; and electronichouse.com.
Q: You met with four low-voltage specialists. Why did you select the winning bidder?
A: None of the bids were the same. Two were very similar in terms of scope and content. The third did not do lighting, so they were eliminated. While I can and do a lot of research, I still expect the specialist to be able to educate me about the choices we need to make. The answer, “We can do whatever you want” isn’t good enough. I need their expertise with choices/options along with pros
The biggest difference was that the high bidder had a fancy showroom with much higher prices. Additionally, they disappointed us by trying to come in with an expensive system that did not meet our objectives. To me, it was a case of a salesman not listening to what we wanted and just trying to push what he wanted to sell. The winning bidder, on the other hand, sells and manages his own business and works alongside his installers. He was the best salesman we met and the most cost-effective.
Q: What features are you looking forward to enjoying?
A: Watching a high-definition movie in the great room, pausing it, going up to the bedroom and restarting the movie there. Paul couldn’t wait to put all of his music and movies on a server and view/listen to them anywhere in the house [see article pg. 36]. He also looked forward to having just two cable/satellite boxes with the ability to run any television in the house off those boxes instead of needing one with every television.
Jay Grant is president of Grant Homes (granthomesusa.com), a residential design/build firm in Mendham, N.J. Grant’s business focuses on controlling and developing land for construction of luxury custom and speculation quick-delivery homes. His strict attention to weekly cash flow reporting results in industry-leading profit margins. Grant has given numerous seminars across the country and is available for consulting by sending e-mail to email@example.com. Read his past columns at rdbmagazine.com.