"Just because you have heated floors and a Wi-Fi-connected thermostat doesn't mean you have a smart house," remarked Lauren Hunter, Hanley Wood's chief products editor, during her presentation about home technology integration at last week's Remodeling Leadership Conference.
For the presentation, Hunter teamed up with Jamie Briesemeister, sales and marketing director at Integration Controls, a St. Louis-based company that specializes in home technology integration.
According to Hunter, a "smart house" involves more than just having the latest "smart" appliances; it's how these appliances interact with one another and how homeowners interact with them that's most important. These whole-home systems are where homes are heading. But what does that mean for remodelers?
"When it comes to home technology," Hunter says, "you don't have to be responsible for all the components."
That's where companies such as Integration Controls come in. "I think there's a huge opportunity for [the contractor]," Briesemeister says. The key is to find out what customers are looking for when they talk about "integrating" home technology and partnering with a home integrator. "The opportunity lies in the relationship you form with the home tech integrator," Briesemeister says. "Partner with somebody who you feel comfortable with."
Another important step is to get integrators, such as Briesemeister, involved in the process as early as possible—long before drywall is up. For contractors, that means learning about the unspoken needs of the homeowner before the project moves to the construction phase. Briesemeister suggests that remodelers ask homeowners questions such as: Do you use computers and mobile devices? Do you struggle with energy use? What makes you feel secure when you come home?
For many homeowners, home technology integration may seem pricey, but according to Briesemeister, it can still be scalable thanks to smart-enabled devices, the offerings available from national service providers such a AT&T, and the one-room audio/video solutions provided both by big-box or custom electronics stores.
"You already have the devices, and guess what?" Briesemeister says, "they can access your home technologies."
In the behind the scenes video below, Hunter and Briesemeister discuss how to form a relationship with a home technology integrator and make smart homes a reality for your clients.
5 Smart Tidbits for Today's Home
Briesemeister suggests these tips for remodelers to help make home technology integration easier both for homeowners and integrators during a project—and in the future should technology and needs change.
- When you open a wall, give a home technology integrator a call.
- Install network cabling on each floor and to televisions and appliances.
- Install conduit between floors, mechanical spaces, and to outdoor living areas.
- Don't rely on wireless solutions as the go-to; hardwired is better.
- Make sure you use properly rated cables, insulated staples, and keep a comfortable distance from high-voltage wiring.
"Home technologies are here to stay and are being integrated into homes whether you plan for them or not," Briesemeister says.