Audio Video companies absolutely love to be involved in the entire building process of a new home. During new construction, av companies and the homeowner, can collaborate and design the best possible locations for all of the equipment to be installed in the home. Examples of these are audio video components, security system placement, lighting controls and switches, landscape lighting, outdoor audio and video, HVAC controls, water detection and control systems, and home theater options. Not only is this optimal for proper sound, it also makes the home much more visually appealing.
Let's take Lighting Controls as an example. Today there are many different wired and wireless solutions for lighting controls. You can get simple wireless bulbs; but they cannot be dimmed by a switch, only in an app or through voice. You can get wireless switches like Brilliant, a brand we carry. These switches are quite impressive as they have a touch display for dimming/toggling lights, viewing today's weather, and each controller has Alexa built in for convenience. These devices are amazing products, but are specifically designed for retrofit (after home has been built) solutions to make it simple for new homeowners to upgrade their home without opening up any walls. Imagine how many light switches you currently have in your home, my house has 34. The average router given to you by Spectrum, AT&T or ATMC only allows 30 wireless connections at a time. Not only could I not even sync all of my lights switches or bulbs, but I cannot connect my phone, tablet, or television.
New construction, on the other hand, has the option of centralized panels. Wireless solutions are not recommended for new construction for several reasons. Centralized panel lighting controls runs wiring from your breaker box to our centralized panel. Then the electrician will run all of the lights in the home to our panel and next our technicians run the low voltage wiring from the panel to the switches. Lastly, they are then programmed for scenes. This is overwhelmingly preferred because now we can limit how many switches you actually need in the home, drastically improving aesthetics. One switch can literally operate an entire room. These modular controllers do not need wifi. These switches can also toggle the lights on and off, plus dim lights when needed. The best part is they are competitively priced to other wireless options and they are much more efficient; bringing you greater savings in years to come.
Now that we have discussed some of the advantages to wiring a new home, let's talk about the process homeowners can expect from an audio video viewpoint.
The First Meeting:
Our initial consultation for a new construction project will normally be held at our showroom. This way you can test out possible equipment you may use or actually see examples of different equipment racks and where they can be hidden. Actually view 2 types of projector systems in our theater and hear over 20 of our most popular speaker pairs in action. Then we can discuss your needs and wants.
We can use your blue prints of the home as a guide to walk through room by room to discuss your vision for the home. The blue prints not only give us details on the room size and layout, but also other important information like electrical plans and locations that may be needed so we can find ways to maximize your lighting controls. Plot plans can be utilized for designing beautiful outdoor spaces. We can discuss possible locations for landscape lighting or outdoor sound systems. Where would you like sound and in how many rooms? Do you want any televisions to be installed on the walls or over the mantle? How do we get power and cables around or over the fireplace? What are the best possible locations for security cameras and motion sensors? Did you want any televisions or sound in you gazebo or tiki bar? Where is the safest location for my security panels? What space is most efficient for my networking panel to ensure good signal? All of these are very good questions that should be considered when speaking about options for your new home. Don't worry if you forget to ask one, we won't.
The Walk Through:
A Walk through is the next and crucial step in the new build process. This will normally happen after framing of your home has been completed. At this time, we walk the entire home with you and the builder to mark all locations inside and outside the home of where all of the components are to be installed. Connected Home works hand in hand with your electrical contractor in most aspects, especially if we are installing lighting control system. This needs to be coordinated as both of our companies will be working to make sure all the power wiring is installed properly and in the correct location. For instance, you want a television over the fireplace. A television needs power, so we do not want the outlet on the floor, but instead hidden behind the television. Or if we are installed centralized lighting, all of the wiring needs to be ran back to the panel by the electrician and then we will connect and install the low voltage wiring back to the toggles.
Another important aspect is your network. If you need a robust network to maintain all the devices in your home, this will include a networking panel and most likely a few access points for improved wifi. Where should the network panel go? It needs to be out of sight for safety, but also convenient for technicians to access. Where should the access points go to maximize signal? This was most likely discussed in your initial meeting, but there could be unforeseen hurdles like tempered glass doors or window coatings that may block the wifi signal. At this part of the process, you builder superintendent would have ordered all these so we can verify the coverage of your signal. What internet and cable provider will you use? Want to be prepared for both? Then we need to make sure all of your television connections have coaxial and LAN connections.
We also want to make sure that all of the equipment will fit in the built-ins or closet we chose from our initial meeting, especially if a rack is involved. Connected Home will once again use the plans from our initial meeting to mark all of these locations in the home so when our technicians arrive, they will know exactly what needs to be done.
The Rough In:
Now our work will official begin on your home. We normally begin our installation process directly after the electrician and HVAC contractor have finished their rough in projects. Now all of the wiring for lighting has been completed, electrical locations for televisions have been wired, and HVAC thermostat locations been wired at their proper locations. We can confirm that our coordination has been successful and we can proceed to our rough in components. This is where we run all of our structured wiring for your network locations, all of the wiring to speaker locations and install pre-wire brackets for versa-boxes, in ceiling and in wall speakers. All centralized lighting panels, networking panels and security panels are installed. Most of our security equipment is POE (Powered Over Ethernet) so LAN cables need to be ran to camera locations, security panels and motion sensors. HDMI and audio cables need to be ran from equipment rack locations to all television locations. If your vision includes outdoor audio or swimming pool controls, now is when we trench to run wiring to these locations and run power to landscape lighting. We also run wiring for outdoor television locations if necessary. Lastly, once all the wiring has been pulled to their proper locations, they must be tested for performance. This step in the building process is the most important, because once these walls have been closed, it is very labor intensive to correct and everything in your home relies on the wiring. If your network is truly the heart of your home, it's not much good if it cannot pump blood through the veins.
The Trim Out:
The trim out phase is normally less intensive, but when the pretty side of things begin to happen. At this point, landscapers have laid the sod, sheetrock has been installed, walls have been painted, cabinets and countertops have all been installed. We can now install in wall and in ceiling speakers, make their connections, and install the covers. We can begin mounting exterior speakers to the outer walls, surface mount speakers inside, security cameras, installing the light toggles, touch screen panels for home control or security, and complete the final steps of the versa-boxes for the televisions. If you have a dedicated home theater room, the projector will be attached to the ceiling and screen will be mounted to the wall. After this phase everything that needs to be attached to the home or installed into the ground will be complete. All of this will be done as the rest of the home is getting ready for the CO and then once your take possession, we will come for the final phase of the audio visual project.
The install is where the entire process all comes together. You have taken possession of the home and have moved or mostly moved in. You have established your internet service and are ready for our final visit. This is required before we come so we can test televisions, make sure networking equipment is functioning properly, and to configure home control and security systems. We also install televisions and all other remaining equipment like equipment racks, networking equipment, amplifiers and receivers, streaming devices, blu-ray players and all other equipment not nailed down so to speak. This next portion of the install can be challenging and is normally the most complex because most of this is going to be programming. After all of the equipment has been installed, now they must be configured for control. Which lights will need to be grouped together to program scenes? Is the projector properly aligned to the screen? What can I control from my universal remote? Can any of these components be controlled from an app? Does connected Home have an App? We need to test every aspect of the system to make sure they are working properly. Plus, we need to your input to customize the system to your liking for easier use. Then we take the time to show you how to use every aspect, download apps to your phone, configure user accounts for everyone in the home, set up facial recognition and more. And yes, at Connected Home we do have our own app! This is vital for all of our customers to download. You can view and download manuals for your components, view helpful how to videos from our Youtube channel, meet our entire team and find contact information and even reach out to technical support with a single button press.
Connected Home thanks you for taking the time to read this extra long blog. When you are investing in this much integration into your home, it is always good to know what to expect, how much it will cost, and also the company you are working with is well versed in the process. We have built a solid reputation for working hand in hand with multiple high end builders in the region, and working hard for our customers to help turn their vision into a reality. We hope this information serves you well and look forward to your initial consultation so we can dream together!