Practical, profitable home technology

Home technology is more popular than ever with consumers, which is why remodelers must familiarize themselves with technology products and their capabilities and learn how to work with an electronic systems contractor. Rob Dzedzy, owner of Media Rooms Inc. in West Chester, Pa., and member of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, knows the critical technologies homeowners want, love and need.

First on the list is lighting control, which provides the ability to automatically turn lights on or off, dim or control them from smartphones and other devices. Lighting is a home’s second biggest consumer of energy behind heating and air conditioning, so precise control can save money, Dzedzy says.

Another essential technology is motorized shades, which can reduce heat gain and stop interior décor from fading. “Of course they can also raise and lower with one button push to control natural light,” he says. “Programmable Internet-connected thermostats can save a significant amount of energy and allow homeowners to control interior temperatures from any Internet-connected device such as smartphones, tablets and computers. Distributed audio can add music throughout a home using wireless technology. Music also can be streamed from Internet services or the home’s iTunes account on a local PC.”

What remodelers must know

Remodelers should discuss home technology and related products with a home technology contractor prior to any project. Before demolition and construction, remodelers and home technology contractors must know where keypads, speakers or motorized shades will be installed so wall space and wiring can be accounted for. “Also, if the home will have a central location for home technology components, space for the equipment and wiring must be provided early in the design phase because even wireless technology requires wires at some point,” he explains.

The best relationship model for remodelers and technology contractors is a partnership. “Just as a home technology contractor probably does not know everything about windows, insulation or shingles, a remodeler is more than likely not familiar with home technology. By building relationships with home technology professionals, remodelers can introduce a higher level of expertise and performance to their clients who are looking for ways to save energy, add lifestyle conveniences and blend new technologies into their homes,” Dzedzy says.

The remodeler/technology contractor relationship is like that with a subcontractor, he says. “In many situations home technology systems are an integral part of the construction or remodeling process. Electronic systems must be planned for in the very beginning of the project. Technology parts and pieces will be installed during construction and final trim-out will be required. In many projects the home technology contractor will be the last person on the jobsite. In addition, the home technology contractor will need to educate the homeowner how the electronic systems work and, therefore, spend time building a relationship with the homeowner,” Dzedzy notes.

Selling the homeowner

Most homeowners are interested in home technology, but many think it is too expensive or complicated to make it a reality. Neither is true, Dzedzy insists. “Involving a technology contractor early in the project will help a client feel more comfortable with technology, show how it can help save energy and add convenience to their lifestyle. Technology should be part of every remodeling or construction budget in the early stages of a project. I believe that in some cases remodelers are reluctant to discuss home technology with homeowners for fear the homeowner will shift funds away from the remodeling budget to accommodate technology. However, home technology must be considered and sold as a value-added benefit to both the homeowner and the remodeler. We have seen many circumstances where the homeowner is willing to expand the budget to include technology.” QR