Congratulations! You've decided to embark on a journey into the fascinating world of technology where dreams really do come true.
Dreams of theater-quality entertainment in your family room. Dreams of home automation that makes life safer, simpler, and a whole lot more convenient.
You're not exactly sure where this journey will ultimately take you, which is why it's important to become familiar with the far-reaching capabilities of modern technology. We're not saying you have to become an expert - leave that to the pros - but making an effort to educate yourself will start you on the path to success.
Here are five tips to help you ease into the planning process - things to consider before you meet with a home technology professional so you leave that first meeting energized, not overwhelmed.
1. Set a ballpark budget.
Sit down with your significant other and figure out how much money you're willing to spend. You don't need to come up with an exact number, but try to establish a comfort range. One starting point is CEDIA's Research & Budget Guide.
2. Do some research.
Spend a few evenings perusing tech blogs like this and CEDIA's Inspiration Gallery to get an idea of what's possible, focusing on areas of greatest interest - home theater, energy management, lighting control and so on. While you're at it, talk to neighbors and members of your family who've done home technology projects to find out what they like (and don't like) about systems they've had installed.
3. Start a priority list.
As you talk with people and scour the Internet for ideas and examples, start a list of features and capabilities that interest you most and prioritize them.
4. Bring your family in the loop.
Whether you're moving along a home entertainment or home automation path, talk to your family to get their thoughts about what sort of features and capabilities make sense to them. Doing so will broaden the scope of your learning experience. No one person has all the answers!
5. Find a qualified professional.
Once you've done your preliminary research, it's time to find a reputable professional who can execute your vision. Visit CEDIA's Find a Pro page and enter your zip code. You can specify a search radius, search by category (23 in all), and indicate credentials you're looking for.
CEDIA members are trained to know the latest trends and products, making them qualified to not only design and install state-of-the-art technology but to personalize it to meet your unique needs. Members must also pledge allegiance to a strict Code of Ethics.
Click here for more on the benefits of working with a CEDIA member. As in any field, word-of-mouth recommendations are also worth paying attention to, so if you know someone who recently completed a technology makeover, give them a call and arrange for a tour.
By following these few simple steps, you will be well on your way to realizing the home of your dreams. For more help thinking through your desired home systems, download our free e-guide to plan for your first meeting with your home tech pro.
For expert advice on all aspects of home entertainment and automation systems, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.