How to Begin a Home Control Project

Whether you're building or remodeling, learn how you can benefit from integrated home technology.

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An integrated home uses technology to make life easier by aggregating various home systems and letting you control them all via one simple user interface. Security, lighting, audio, video, climate, pool/spa and even appliances can be connected in an integrated home, offering the ultimate in convenience, control and energy savings.

Imagine touching a "Sleep" icon on your iPad before bed to turn off lights house-wide, set the alarm and adjust the thermostat to your preferred temp. With an integrated home, that functionality can be yours. Fortunately, the integrated home is easier to set up and more affordable than ever, making it viable for those with little technological expertise and those with small budgets alike.

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When building a new home or embarking on a remodel, it's important to start thinking about integrated home technology at the get-go. It's especially crucial to have a plan before walls are erected. Whether you are hiring a pro or doing it yourself, if the technology is incorporated early enough, in-wall wiring can be done before drywall goes up, ample electricity can be routed to electronic locations, and displays and speakers can be oriented within a room to their best advantage.

First, think about what sort of functionality you want your integrated home to have, and what subsystems — such as lighting, security and whole-house audio — you are going to incorporate. "The best way to determine what a homeowner needs is to ask questions about how they live," says Christian Lawrence, director of business development for Insight Home Solutions. "Every person is unique and every solution can be custom."

At this point, it's ideal to pinpoint future needs. "For example, you may want to budget for audio distribution only at this point, but the correct wiring or component decisions now can scale to full-fledged video sharing later, protecting more of your initial investment," says Bob Dodge, director of Talk of the Town. Wiring for future components now can eliminate untold retrofitting headaches in the future.

This complete guide to all things home automation and integration will take you through the process of planning your integrated home, covering every conceivable facet to make it a simple, straightforward and exciting endeavor.

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