Working with an
Electronic Systems Integrator:
Set Your Project Up for Success
Have you ever thought about converting that bonus room into a private home theater with terrific surround sound and a cinema-sized screen? Or maybe you've considered adding a multi-room audio system throughout your house that can stream your favorite music from the Internet? Or maybe the idea of controlling your lighting and HVAC system from anywhere in the world using your iPad gets your blood pumping.
These are the kinds of projects that get many homeowners excited, yet can leave them scratching their heads wondering where to begin. Fortunately, trained professionals around the world know exactly what to do to ensure that your vision becomes a reality. These professionals are called electronic systems integrators, or ESIs for short.
If you have thought about hiring an ESI for a custom installation project, here are some things that will help you to prepare for your working relationship:
Meet early in the project.
The earlier you can meet with the ESI, the better. Often they will have design suggestions that can improve the system, and getting in early allows them to better integrate with the project's timeline.
Paint with big brushstrokes.
The ESI is not expecting you to know all the intricate details of the project - that's their job! Instead, describe big ideas and concepts like, "We want music in these rooms" or "I want to be able to control these lights" or "I want a surround system in this room, but it can't dominate the room's décor." The ESI can take these big-picture statements and turn them into a system design. However, be sure to mention any must-haves. Notes like "We have a large movie collection that needs to be managed" or "I need to be able to remotely access my system" or "I want full control from my iPad" will help the ESI design a system that fully meets your needs and expectations.
Have a rough budget in mind.
Depending on the scope of work to be done, systems can range in pricing from the thousands to well over six figures. Having some kind of budget in mind will allow the ESI to deliver the best system for your budget by choosing the best components and allocating your dollars where they will maximize performance.
Have an onsite walk-through.
The ESI will likely want to visit your home and look at the space before a proposal is generated. This is especially true in retrofit jobs where things like running wiring can be quite difficult. Also, walking through a space makes it easier to visualize which products and designs will best fit.
Review the proposal.
After discussing your needs and wants and viewing your space, the ESI will prepare a proposal. Typically this is for a "turnkey" system and includes delivery, installation, setup, programming and support. Some ESIs will give proposals with good/better/best options, allowing you to step up or down according to your needs and budget.
If you're not sure of something, anything, just ask. It's much better to voice any concerns early on in the project when changes can easily be made to the system design.
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