You decided to treat yourself to that finished basement complete with a custom controlled home theater? It’s a significant investment and will become your favorite room in the house, so you want it done right. Who do you call?
It’s important to consider the longevity of your specialist. In our technology driven era, many small integrators start businesses and survive just a short life only to learn it takes years of training and experience to be competitive in the consumer electronics world. Make sure the company you choose has been around a while - you need them to sustain to support your system!
Home technology companies specialize, much like the medical field, and you wouldn’t ask a dentist to fix your broken leg. It’s important to choose someone to help who is an expert in your home technology needs. The economical changes over the past few years have caused many businesses to reevaluate their product and service offerings. The problem is that a company, consider an electrical contractor that has 20 years of experience and is very reputable, is now marketing themselves as a home theater installation company. A few of their existing dealers sell the components, they know how to wire the home and connect the equipment and they can charge a rate lower than what you might find for a home theater specialist, so why not? For starters, they are experts in high voltage wiring and not home theaters. There are many aspects of a home theater that require expertise in design and installation to make the room a success. Additionally, the company may sell certain home theater products but not nearly as many quality options as an actual home theater specialist and certainly not the top quality automation products available to control them.
Make sure they have completed work of similar scope to your project. Some integrators specialize in smaller projects and if you have a 10,000 square ft home, they may be incapable of the sophisticated design and programming required on a project that large in scale. And in the reverse, those integrators who only specialize in extremely custom projects may employ staff that are trained in sophisticated design and programming, costing you a higher hourly rate!
Don’t forget to gauge the quality of the company. Was your proposal a verbal “Um, about $50,000 for that theater” or did you receive a detailed printout with design documentation, a contract and warranty details?
Finally, ask for referrals! If your specialist doesn’t have them, that’s a problem. If they do, don’t just take them, call them! Sure, more often than not you won’t receive referrals that will speak too negatively about your specialist but you can hope for honesty. You can also consider all of the items mentioned above - what type of work has the specialist done in the past, scale of the projects and how smoothly did they go. If the referrals aren’t from projects similar to yours, take the hint and move on.
It’s too often we see customers with unfinished or ineffective systems which could have been prevented with the right installer. By the time they come to us, they’ve already spent a lot of time and money on their project and must further empty their pockets to fix it. Have your checklist and choose your specialist wisely!