Critical Questions to Ask Before Installing Technology
By Erik Anderson, CGA, CGP, Lutron Electronics
When it comes to installing technology, many builders and remodelers aren’t quite sure of what they need to do to support the products to ensure that their “critical path of construction” is not disrupted and the job stays on schedule.
Installing structured wiring.
Following are several critical questions that builders and remodelers should ask their customers, designers, architects and electronic systems contractor (ESCs) about the technology options to be installed that will help them maintain their construction schedule.
The right questions ― asked at the right time ― can provide key insights into effectively managing their production schedule and improving their bottom line.
Note that these questions should be asked during the design stage of the project, not after work has begun.
- Framing stage — Are you adding a plasma TV that requires extra support within the studs?
Are you adding controlled shades that require framing to box out the rollers?
Are you adding a structured wiring cabinet that needs to be installed between studs in a specific location?
You are not only adding the options the home owners want, you are building in the support structure these products require. Be sure you know everything that is involved so you can coordinate the installation properly.
- MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) Rough-in — What additional wires are needed to accommodate the electronic products that will be installed?
Most builders and remodelers are familiar with security, phone and cable wiring, but don’t overlook the wiring for speakers, audio control keypads, TVs mounted above fireplaces, lighting control keypads, controlled shades above windows and any other items that need wiring or electronics to control them.
- While the electrician is on site, don’t forget to make sure outlets are roughed in at locations where equipment for these products will need to be “plugged in.”
- If you are installing PVC piping for a central vacuum system, you probably want to rough in the low-voltage wiring and outlets at the same time.
- Are you providing your home buyer a conduit for future wiring needs as technologies emerge? If so, now is the time to rough that in as well.
- MEP Trim — Have you coordinated the locations for all dimmers, switches and outlets for the lighting control systems with your installing contractor?
Is that contractor providing the products that will be installed? If so, are they aware of the production schedule and have they been given enough time to order the products so they can install them on schedule?
Were they notified of any color changes or room design changes that could affect the trim?
Are there special needs for any automated plumbing or HVAC systems?
Have you coordinated the locations for all dimmers, switches and outlets for the lighting control systems with your installing contractor? Is that contractor providing the products that will be installed? If so, are they aware of the production schedule and have they been given enough time to order the products so they can install them on schedule? Were they notified of any color changes or room design changes that could affect the trim? Are there special needs for any automated plumbing or HVAC systems?
- Prior to the Final Walk-Through — The installation of certain electronic products ― such an in-wall/ceiling speakers, touch screens, TV’s and expensive equipment ― needs to be fully coordinated because these products risk “walking off” the job site if they are left uninstalled and unattended.
Don’t forget to make sure that any late installations do not affect your final inspection and delay your ability to receive a certificate of occupancy prior to closing.
- Final Walk-Through — Are you familiar with how to operate all of the products so you can test them properly? Can you confidently demonstrate them to your home owners?
- Customer Care/After-the-Sale Service — Have you discussed customer care procedures and responsibilities with you ESC?
Have you determined who will serve as the customer care contact for technology and if the contact changes once the warranty has ended?
These are questions that touch on a few of the many products and construction stages that can be affected by the technology options your home owners choose.
The best way to optimize your “critical path of construction” is to find a reliable ESC who can work with you and your team to communicate all aspects of the installation process prior to the first stake being hammered in at the site.
Erik Anderson, CGA, CGP, of Lutron Electronics, is an active member of NAHB. He works with the 20 Club Program and Home Technology Alliance. For more information, e-mail Anderson, or call him at 484-809-3867.
Information About Home Technology Available From HTA
The Home Technology Alliance (HTA) is a partnership between NAHB and the Custom Electronic Design Installation Association (CEDIA) that was formed to position the housing industry to effectively meet the growing home buyer demand for home technology and provide maximum return on investment in the new home building and remodeling process.
For more information, visit www.nahb.org/HTA.
CEDIA: A Source for Experienced ESCs
The Custom Electronic Design Installation Association (CEDIA) is a founding sponsor in the Home Technology Alliance and an international trade association of companies that specialize in designing and installing electronic systems for the home.
CEDIA members are established and insured businesses with bona fide qualifications and experience in this field. CEDIA serves as a source for Electronic Systems Contractors (ESCs).
For more information on CEDIA, visit the association’s Web site at www.cedia.org. To find an ESC, click here.