Hiring Home Theater Contractors

Get expert tips on hiring the right professional to install your home theater.
By: Terry Ulick

The complexity of a home theater requires skill not only in construction, but also in integrating electronics. Home theater construction is a specialty, and there are many contractors that specialize in home theater design, remodeling and construction.

Many firms can help you design your home theater, choose electronic gear and furniture and do the installation. Integrating all the elements is essential, but you do want the home theater to be your creation. With a good plan, knowledge of the equipment and a concept of how you want the end room to look and feel, you can design most of it yourself, or if it's too much for you, get the help of a contractor at the design phase.

If you're ready to hire a home theater contractor, here are a few criteria to consider:

  • Knowledge of the latest home theater gear and technology
  • Responsive to your planning ideas and requests
  • References that you can call or even visit
  • Photos of installations and construction projects
  • Networked with other contractors for room additions and other specialties
  • Member of professional association

The Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) has members that specialize in planning and installing electronic systems for the home and is a useful resource for finding home theater consultants and contractors. Visit their web site for more information about what to look for in a contractor as well as current trends and technology.

When considering contractors, ask for references for projects they've done and review photos and videos of their work. Since most owners of a home theater are proud of it, you may find you are invited to visit some. Contractors often use their own home as a showcase, so ask if you can visit any sites where they have done the installation.

If you're comfortable with technology, you can save money by purchasing the equipment yourself or installing much of it on your own. If you choose to install gear, review your equipment and plans with your contractor ahead of time to identify technical or installation issues they will need to consider.

Building a home theater is a major project, and the planning and full vision of the room, its layout and the equipment you will want should be completed before any construction begins.

When ordering custom home theater furniture, factor in eight to twelve weeks for delivery. Likewise, custom drapery can take four to six weeks to arrive. When hiring contractors, make sure you have all of the home theater's elements ready in time for construction.

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