Top technology tips for your remodel
Whether you have bought a house and are undertaking a significant home remodel or simply wanting to bring your home up to date, technology is a very important factor to think about.
From updating control systems to adding speakers, we’ve got all the answers to your remodel questions.
1. Introduce your contractors
Connecting the general remodel contractor with your AV company allows clear communication and efficient problem solving throughout the project.
Technology should’t be an afterthought as it usually goes hand in hand with electrical planing and any cabinetry design. We recommend a quick introductory email where plans and information can be shared, followed by a site meeting.
2. Identify Wiring
Do you know what’s behind your walls when it comes to wiring?
Homes over 10 years old are likely to need some level of wiring upgrade. Most homeowners consume their media through streaming so gone are the days of needing co-ax for cable boxes. Now we need robust wired and wireless networks.
If you home isn’t more than 10 years old, chances are the builder already prewired in the obvious places. We’re talking speaker wires in media rooms and family rooms, security wire for an alarm system and some Cat6 wire for TV or cameras. There’s a very good chance however that there are lots of wires in a closet and you’re not 100% sure what for or where they run to. Taking some time to determine what wires are there and getting them tidied up and labelled is an important step.
Removing walls or cutting sheetrock is the perfect time to add infrastructure to future proof any home, but if that’s not an option during your home remodel you’ll need to work around what’s there. Thankfully there are lots of wireless products which avoid the need for wires back to the head end, so read on!
3. AV aspirations
Perhaps you’ve got speakers in the ceiling already but there’s no amplifier in the closet to power them. Count how many “zones” of audio you have and that will determine what amplification you need. A great option for an existing system is to install Sonos Amps, which you can then control from an App on your phone. Generally you’re looking at one Amp per zone/room of audio and you can then play them independently or stream the same audio to multiple locations at once.
Sonos is also a great solution for rooms where you want to retrospectively set up surround sound as their sounders have a built in amplifier. Just remember, you’ll need to add power to each speaker so you may need to factor some electrical outlet installation into your budget.
If there is the option to install a wired solution, with speakers wires behind walls, then you can create a fully immersive 5.1 or 7.2 audio experience with lots of audio products to select from. Our favorites are Origin and Leon.
For a wired solution, you will need an AVR which typically costs from $800 to $3,000 depending on number of channels and power required. and you’ll need somewhere to put it. Make sure you talk to your designer or AV installer about its location – will it be in the media room in a cabinet or located in the equipment closet in another part of the house? It’s also worth thinking about introducing accent furniture to your theater or media room, from a company like Salamander, which offers unique pieces such as floating consoles.
TVs sizes should also be considered – indoor and outdoor. Think about where you’ll be sitting or standing when you’re watching TV. Will you want to be able to angle the TV, or even pull it down lower. There are lots of options so don’t jump at the first deal you see wholesale, which might be the previous year’s model.
4. Security cameras and alarm systems
Wiring for cameras can often be run retrospectively, if it’s not already there. This is dependent however on attic access and paths to run the wires to the ideal locations. Work with your security solution company to agree on the best placement of camera to give you good visibility of exterior access areas.
If wiring isn’t an option then there are some great wireless products on the market with proprietary cloud solutions to store your footage. Examples are the cameras and recorders from IC Real Time. This can be a great solution when you have outbuildings where you’d like visibility but you don’t want to dig up the yard to run wires for connectivity.
When it comes to alarms with components such as door contacts, glass breaks and window contact, these can be wired or wireless, giving you flexibility around your existing wiring infrastructure. Security Systems like Honeywell Home allow for wired or wireless keypads, meaning you can add more at a later date. You can also choose to have your system monitored, or not. Sometimes this can make a different to your home owners insurance costs so definitely something to think about.
5. Network – internet and WiFi coverage
Your network is the backbone of your home technology and that includes mobile devices using WiFi around the house and yard. If possible, get things like TVs hardwired to the network, to free up the WiFi for phones and tablets. Having a robust router in place is critical and we always recommend one which can perform self healing after an outage.
Access points can add up in terms of the investment but will give you seamless coverage inside and outside the home, eliminating the frustration of dead spots.
6. Motorized shades
Last but not least, think about which windows you’d like to add shades. Which ones are high up and won’t be reachable and those are the ones which will benefit from motorized window treatments. Imagine eliminating mid day sun glare from your TV and heat from your living room, at the touch of a button. All of the main shade manufacturers now offer great battery option shades, which are perfect for a remodel where wiring isn’t present. And they can all be programed via an App to open and close at certain times of day, during specific seasons each year.
We are dealers for Lutron, Crestron, Power Shades and Hunter Douglas, so we can offer several options and make fabric recommendations following a free consultation at the home. Perhaps you like traditional woven woods or want to introduce a pop of color of to a particular room. Or maybe you just want to add some sheers behind your drapes to offer a little privacy on the ground floor. Take the time to consider this important element of your remodel and interior design project. Read more about selecting shades
7. Lighting control
Introducing some lighting control to any home adds instant elegance. From curb appeal to ambience, setting lighting scenes allows you to dress your home to suit the time of day and the seasons. From a safety perspective, lighting control from an app also delivers the ability to turn on the lights when you’re away from home, making the home look occupied.
The obvious areas to install wireless lighting control are the communal spaces such as living room, kitchen, game room and outdoor patios. Front porches and exterior lighting can also be incorporated to your lighting program, to make your house the envy of the neighborhood in terms of creating an inviting feel.
From family movie night to a holiday party, preset scenes and lighting levels to transform the mood at the touch of a button!
If there’s an existing Lutron or Crestron lighting system with keypads in place, it may need an upgrade and some reprograming, which we also offer. With beautiful finishes from both manufacturers, such as the Palladiom keypads from Lutron, there is something to suit every decor style and budget. And what’s more you can integrate with motorized shades if you so choose to give even more control.
Whatever your vision looks like for your remodeled home, it all starts with a phone call. So think about what you’d like to achieve, what you like and what you don’t like, and let your local AV company take care of coming up with a solution which will work for you, your family and your budget.