Automated AV: Our final decision
Home automation was something that was very hard for us to figure out what we wanted, mostly due to our unfamiliarity with the systems and brands. However, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to install a system in the House Trade Built to increase value and design simplicity. Hello: no cords and minimal light switches! We had a few criteria on our list that we were checking off as we got quotes from companies around the city. Some of the factors that came into play include:
- Most things nowadays come with an “app” so that you can access it from a mobile phone like thermostats, DVRs, security systems, door knobs, lights, etc. We wanted the ability to control all of these functions from a single app (as opposed to multiple different apps).
- All of the companies in Regina are knowledgeable about their products and systems and nobody is really presenting a “bad” product. However, because of our unfamiliarity with the brands, we don’t know how to tell which is the “best” and are relying on the salesperson to educate us on their system at a level we can understand.
- Automation is not inexpensive. It’s definitely a luxury that you have to be willing to pay for. The system we choose must fit into our budget and still have the functions we are looking for.
- Some systems are only available with one brand of products. So if that brand ever stopped operating, you would no longer have regular updates.
Our eventual decision was to hire Andrew from Automated AV to install a Crestron system in the House Trade Built. We came to this decision easily for a variety of reasons:
- The product Automated AV offers is deadly. I mean, when you want to talk about automation, Crestron has been doing it the longest, and they really are the Cadillac of automation. As the industry leader, we know that the system will always be updated and have support.
- Andrew was highly knowledgeable. He could explain more about sound, security, and video systems than we could ever hope to understand. He was able to explain the functions in a way that we could understand (rather than using a bunch of technological jargon) and came across as very honest and friendly.
- The quote was very fair for the world renowned high-quality system that Crestron provides. Just Google Crestron apps on Google Play Store, and all have between 4-5 star rankings. The best part about it is that it is FULLY customizable, while most of the competition relies on a template that cannot change. The other thing we liked about the quote was that every piece of the system, from the cords to the speakers, was priced out and we were given options for upgrades. We’ve seen quotes where the entire project is summed up with one number, but it’s nice seeing things broken down so we can truly understand where the costs are coming from.
And of course, very important to the project too, was that he was open to bartering. What more could we ask for than the best system available, at a fair price, and willing to trade for it? It was a no-brainer once we reviewed all of the quotes and available options to us.
Another cool feature was that our quote came with is a prepared diagram of the house showing room by room what we were planning and exactly what components we were receiving. This made the elaborate system/quote seem simpler and allowed us to more easily visualize the spaces.
As you can see, this is the main floor of the house. We are putting surround sound in the entertainment area. There wasn’t any need for speakers in the kitchen or dining area because the sound will travel due to the open layout. There are also speakers in the garage and on the back deck. Keypads located at the entrances to the house (front door, garage door and deck door) provide easy access (turning lights on, disabling/enabling security, etc) all while keeping them off the main walls for simplicity and beauty. You probably wouldn’t notice the placement of a light switch or screen until one is placed in an awkward spot. With this design, we won’t have to creatively hang art or shelves to hide light switches during the Show Home stage because everything is being done the right way right from the start.
We kept the second floor pretty basic with speakers only in the master bedroom and master ensuite. The master bedroom is also being wired for a television.
Andrew met us on site last week to go through the house room by room and show us where things would be going. We made a game-changing call on a media area that will surely make everyone happy. Originally, the bonus room above the garage was going to have an elaborate media system and we were going to leave the basement unfinished. Due to the Crestron system, future homeowners would be able to integrate the basement media area (when they finished the basement) onto the system because of the number of zones allowed on the system. Take note here if you’re planning automation in your house: how many zones can you have, and can you add zones afterwards? Our system can since we didn’t maximize the zones on the first and second floor and budgeted for the future basement zone. Well, the future basement zone has arrived. We’ve decided to finish the basement and it includes a pretty sweet media setup, complete with projector.
Overall, we are very happy with our automation decisions. We think it will add value to the house and make it appealing to those looking for something special and different from the standard homes on the market. Andrew has been great to work with and we look forward to seeing him on site in January to install the system.
What element of your home would you want control over from a mobile device? Security, lighting, music, heating, energy monitoring? I like being able to hit “good-bye” and having the whole house shut down. I think they should invent an automatic clothing folding machine next though…