The landscape of Home Tech Experts, Integrators, A/V guys, Installers, Technologists, or whatever you want to call them, has been rocky. In Southern California, 20 years ago, we had about less than 50 companies and they all specialized in Custom Home, now we have about 7000 companies in all sizes and specialties. Unlike medicine, law, or architecture, there exists no real qualification process to open a business and call oneself a “home technology professional”. This low to no barrier of entry has resulted in countless sub-par technology experiences for consumers. This problem has plagued the home technology industry for decades. Everyone has suffered. Consumers own homes that they cannot operate, manufacturer’s names are sullied, and qualified home technology firms are faced with an untrusting public.
Historically, homeowners have chosen firms based on price or the personality of a salesperson. Sometimes the company was referred by a builder or architect. Typically, consumers have not done much due diligence on prospective technology installation firms, and the selection process has been confusing. This confusion has led to hiring the wrong company, bad system design, and bad technology implementation.
The company that did an amazing job on your cousin’s 1,500 sq ft home may not be the right company to outfit your 10,000 sq. ft estate, and vice versa. The first step of a successful home technology project is hiring the right company. This is also easily the most important ingredient in the recipe for success.
Here are some helpful tips in choosing the right home technology firm:
1 – Understand Your Budget
Some firms specialize in projects of $600K and above, others are great at projects between $10 – 20K. Typically, the really good firm that specializes in $20K projects is not equipped for the $600K project, and the $600K specialist may not be interested in the $20K project. You want a firm that has the most experience at your budget level. So, how do you determine your budget? This is a difficult task for homeowners with a limited knowledge of technology. Here are some basic guidelines: On a new construction project or a major remodel, expect to spend between 4 – 8% of the home’s value on your home’s technology installation. You will be on the higher end of the spectrum in regions where home costs are lower (Houston, Atlanta, Utah, etc.) and on the lower end of the spectrum where real estate costs are high (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc.). We have a proven metric system to calculate what the appropriate budget for your project is to maximize your enjoyment and Return of Investment. Do not be alarmed if your budget range comes as a surprise. We have found that most homeowners spend 2.5x the original number they had in their head for home technology.
2 – Hire a Firm that Specializes in Homes of Your Size and Value
Budget is not the only guideline. Also consider the size and value of homes the firm specializes in. The complexity and fit/finish expectations of a 15,000 square foot custom home are wildly different than a 3,000 square foot production home. Technology systems do not “scale” in a linear way; the larger the home, the complexity increases exponentially. Find a firm that matches up nicely to your home size, and more importantly, your home value. In our dealer profiles, we show you these statistics. Hiring a firm that is out of their wheelhouse is the single biggest mistake homeowners make.
3 – Assess your Service Needs
Unlike an electrician or a framer who you rarely see after the home is finished, your technology specialist will be a fairly regular visitor to your home. Technology is imperfect and changes constantly, so you need to choose a firm that gives you the level of service responsiveness you require. Are you ultra-demanding and expect immediate service when there is a hiccup, or can you live without technical perfection for a few days? Home technology installation companies handle service in different ways. Here are the things to look for:
- Does the company have a dedicated service department? This indicates a commitment to after-the-sale customer service.
- Who handles the service call? Do you get a service technician, or is it a small company where the owner is also the one to service you? Which do you prefer?
- Does the company offer 24-hour service for that evening or weekend problem?
- Does the company offer same day service for emergencies?
4 – Find a personality fit
This will be a long-term relationship, so be sure to hire someone you feel comfortable with. If you do not feel the main person you will be dealing with is a fit, abandon ship. Also, understand the firm size and pick a good fit for you. If you only ever want to deal with the owner, a small boutique firm of under 10 people is best. If you desire a larger firm that has a team of specialists, look for those firms with 20+ employees.
We suggest that you use these criteria as a start to select who you will interview. Pick three firms and get to know them, their approach, and what makes them different from their competition. This is a good starting point, though we encourage you to do your own reference checks as well.
We are specialized in Custom Home larger than 5000 sq feet, over $500/sq feet in property value. Our primary focus is to serve Homeowners in Professional field: Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers and Domestic/ International Business Owner who wants to enhance their security, comfort and convenience in their custom dream home with Smart Home Technology. Our service area include Pasadena, San Marino, La Canada, Arcadia, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, Hollywood Hills, Manhattan Beach, Palos Verdes, Bradbury Estate and Newport Beach.
Remember, this is just the beginning, exciting and more technology will come ahead! Good luck on building your dream Custom Home!