Home Automation Services Farmington NM
M-SA 6 am - 9 pm
SU 8 am - 8 pm
Monday To Friday Working Hours is :8-22 and for Sat:8-22
Monday To Friday Working Hours is :8-22 and for Sat:8-22
Los Lunas, NM
Hiring the Right Installer
When it comes to automating your home, selecting the right contractor to install the smarts in your living space is a crucial decision. If it is done methodically, and you do your homework before calling a home automation installer, the selection process is easier, and satisfaction is almost assured.
The first step is yours, and it is an important one: Read and plan. Educate yourself about what is available in the various areas that interest you. List as many wants and desires as you can. Decide what you want with regard to home security as well as lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling controls, since those are the basics of home automation.
Beyond that, you might want a simple home computer network, a home computer network plus audio and video (with or without connections for sight and sound in areas other than the main entertainment room), even pillow cooling to help reduce air-conditioning costs. Think exterior as well as interior. Do you want to automate your irrigation system or your pool and spa? You'll also need to think about wiring versus wireless options, since developments like X10 technology and wireless controllers are now part of most home automation systems and can affect installation and costs.
The options increase daily. Today, plasma TV screens can replace photography or art on many walls, making every-room TV quite practical, without requiring storage furniture or gobbling up floor space. Similarly, quality sound in each room is easy today, and not likely to take up much space. Current speaker technology can hardly be compared to the days when 3- or 4-foot-tall speakers stood in every corner. Today, in-wall speakers do a comparable job, though it is still possible to place half a dozen speakers around a room to vibrate walls way down the block while shaking the joint compound out of yours.
Also keep in mind that home entertainment centers may soon become pass, because your entire house can now be an entertainment center, with different features in every room. More and more homeowners are opting for distributed whole-house audio and video systems, which give family members in different areas of the home the ability to determine what they want to see and hear from a central source.
Remember, the goal when automating a house is to make your life easier. Perhaps a simple system that turns lights on and off at certain times of the day and turns the thermostat down at night is all you need. Or perhaps you want something more sophisticated. Think security, think lighting, think audio and video, think drapes and appliances, door locks and garage doors, and almost any other item or task that now forces you out into the rain, cold, snow or heat. Home automation can make life more pleasant as well as more entertaining.
The point is, you will get a much better installation job if you educate yourself about the areas of greatest interest to you. Don't need irrigation control? Pass it by. Want sound in every room? Not a problem. Want video in half the rooms with sound? Easily done. Check everywhere you can to find information, until it all begins to jell for you.
Half Now, Half Later?
Home automation can be costly to install. If you can afford it, you may choose to have a complete installation. But an alternative is to stagger the installation, much like a homeowner with an old house has the roof replaced first, the new furnace and air conditioning next, and so on. To find out exactly what everything is going to cost, have an installer or contractor provide affordability estimates for each stage. It is possible to do any home automation job in stages, though you may not get the best price that way. If you can't pop for $10,000 or $15,000 up front, work out some compromises that allow you to do a third or half the job now, and do the rest later. The installer should be ready, and willing, to work this way.
Remember, you're not telling the contractor how to do his or her job, but you should let the contractor know what kind of job will meet your needs and limitations. Like most small-business people, home automation installers rely almost as much on word-of-mouth advertising as they do on print and other media advertising. Pleasing customers is what it's all about.
Plan on asking each installer what the job includes, the types and numbers of keypads necessary, how much cabling you'll need, and the types of panels and wireless devices required. While you're planning, remember that all the wireless remotes in the world won't work unless the appliances and other fixtures are wired in and have sensors in place.
Another point to remember during planning is that it's a lot cheaper to have an installer come in and do the work on one job ticket. If you call back later, the time-to-job-site clock starts all over again, and there may be further evaluation charges, plus there's the time required to select new bits and pieces and either pick them up or have them delivered. Cable and cable terminations are not extremely costly in the numbers needed for most homes, but you will get a better price or your installer will if it's all bought at one time.
However, notes Carl White of Audiotronics in Roanoke, Va., It's better not to lock in prices while a job is in the early stages, because we know two things: Electronic products improve almost daily, while they also get cheaper. The industry changes with incredible rapidity.
This applies most to the actual interface, computing, sound and video gear being installed. Most firms, including Audiotronics, can serve as sources for any needed security systems, keypads, panels, speakers and similar products.
Obviously, your home automation installer must know how to do the work. Pumping up a home's intelligence is a specialized type of contracting. It requires some different tools and techniques. Audiotronics White notes that it is an excellent idea to check the contractor for ability and interest in servicing installations after the initial work is over. If the contractor doesn't make repairs later, who does
Scott Rife, a former networking consultant based in Culpeper, Va., recommends that homeowners start their search for home automation installers with commercial contractors, since the majority of security installations are still done for businesses. And many commercial home automation installers are doing work on residences.
According to Joseph Tomsic, chief building official for Bedford County, Va., checking for licensing is another critical issue. In most areas, you're not likely to find code enforcement, though. In many states, any work done on systems using 50 volts or less is not regulated by the National Electrical Code. Security and fire alarms may differ, Tomsic says, and local codes may apply where the NEC doesn't.
During residential construction, general contractors run both new-building and remodeling jobs, so make sure they can work with your home automation subcontractor, and vice versa. In fact, if you haven't already located a home automation installer but you do have a general contractor, start your search by asking the contractor for recommendations.
When you find an installer, ask questions. First, if the contractor is working mostly with businesses, you need to find out if he or she is interested at all in residential jobs. Office cabling alone often runs many thousands of dollars, while most home installations cost less than $1,000 for cabling, and few will run over $2,000. According to White, installers charge for cabling by the square foot; the current charge is about $1 per square foot. That varies a great deal across the country, and that price is for new construction. If that sounds cheap, take heart. The equipment you run off the cabling will be the bulk of your budget.
Next up, ask for references. This is word-of-mouth advertising again. References are best if they're local, easy to reach and willing to say more than, Yes, I hired whomever and he did okay. See if they'll describe the installation and ask if the work went smoothly once started. Also, check to see if the work began and finished on time.
If you're automating an existing structure, you'll want to make sure that the person doing the installation knows most, or many, of the little tricks that will make the installation proceed smoothly. For instance, fishing cable, the technique used to pull cable behind existing walls, is almost an art. The person doing the job has to be able to judge older construction, make sure joists are running the way he or she believes, knock as few holes as possible in the existing walls, and generally do a neat and efficient job.
Other questions for all home automation installers arise at this point. You need to know what kind of warranty the contractor offers, but you also need to know what kind of supporting warranty the manufacturers of the materials offer. You will need the contractor's warranty of proper installation to be able to use the warranties from the manufacturers. The proper installation warranty cannot be made unless the contractor has, and uses, the correct test equipment for the materials installed. Most certification and training of cable installers is done by equipment manufacturers. There is currently no overall certification level, and none is required in most areas, except for security installations.
Ask about cost. This needs to be the last question, because too much emphasis on cost can produce biases that interfere with a good job. If you can get what you feel is a bargain at the same time, that's fine. But don't go in looking for bargain-basement work, because that's rarely a good buy, whether it's in framing lumber, roofing, electrical wiring or smart home technology.
Now, do it all again. Not the planning, but getting the estimate and talking to the contractor. If your area supports three home automation installers, talk to all three. Any time you're hiring a contractor, it's best to get three estimates. Select the one that is closest to your desires and price and possibly most important the one who is easiest to talk to. People who are easy to talk to and who work with you to clarify explanations are often better to work with in the long run.
According to White, 90 percent of all first-year service calls are customer training people forget which button to press when. In view of this statistic, you really do want to feel comfortable with your contractor.
The final step? Signing a contract. You must have all the materials, including keypads, audio and video equipment, panels, remotes and other gear specified at least to type and quality level. Given a recommendation that the actual product not be locked in until just before installation, you need a lock on the type and quality, at the very least. If the job is to start immediately or nearly so, have the installer specify exactly what products you are getting. Otherwise, you can leave this open-ended until right before the work is to begin.
By determining what you want up front, planning carefully and asking the right questions, you can ensure that you get the right installer to automate your home.