Bought home w/ defective drywall. Help me automate from scratch! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 07-03-2011, 11:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Last month I purchased a home at a discount that was known to have defective chinese drywall. I am one month into the four month remediation process, and every last inch of drywall, electrical, etc. has been removed from the property (down to the studs). I now have a clean slate to wire the home for automation, but I need to figure out all the details within the next few weeks in order to take full advantage of this opportunity.

My goals are to automate lighting, thermostat, alarm, and window treatments. I want to be able to (eventually) control everything with an iPad. My initial budget is about 15-20k, but I definitely want to purchase products with the best price/performance ratio currently available. If this means adding to the budget, then I am okay with spending more.

Below are the ground floor and second floor architecture plans, along with some photos. Hopefully they will help illustrate my descriptions.


LIGHTING
On the first floor, I want to control the kitchen, dining room, family room, master bedroom, and living room, along with the outside courtyard and garage lights. On the second floor, just the club room.

THERMOSTAT
I am installing new Trane XL20i units, but I guess all that matters is the thermostat I use to control it. Suggestions as to which thermostat brand/model would be greatly appreciated.

ALARM
I am light on the details of the alarm system, but it would be great to be able to remotely arm/disarm it from my iPhone, as well as arm it from the bedroom with the iPad. Suggestions here would be greatly appreciated.

WINDOW TREATMENTS
This is probably the most difficult/expensive (and probably optional) of all. My wife and I love the idea of being able to wake up in the morning and open all the blinds automatically throughout the house, and close everything in the evening when going to sleep. We do it every day manually in our current townhouse, and it's going to be infinitely more annoying with all the windows in the new place. We have agreed that it is only important on the first floor, but there are a couple of challenges. Firstly, a majority of first floor light comes from the sliding glass doors. Is it viable to automate these? Secondly, there are quite a few small windows (especially looking out to the courtyard) which may run up the cost quickly.

The electrician also said it would be a good idea to decide on the window treatment brand as quickly as possible, since the amperage would need to be calculated into the new plans. I'd love to hear suggestions.

AV SYSTEM
The house was originally wired for surround sound in both the living room and loft, as well as wiring to the outside patio. However, each wiring set seemed to be isolated. The idea of playing music both inside and outside of the house is great, but my guess is we need to setup the wiring to a home run. That way we can control everything in concert. This led us to choosing under the stairs as a homerun location for the equipment. There's quite a bit of room under there, and the airflow seems sufficient.

That's pretty much all I can think of right now. Hopefully this is enough information to start getting some good recommendations, but I have many more pictures and the full architectural plans if that would help!









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post #2 of 15 Old 07-03-2011, 11:49 AM
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Quote:


LIGHTING
On the first floor, I want to control the kitchen, dining room, family room, master bedroom, and living room, along with the outside courtyard and garage lights. On the second floor, just the club room.

I like Lutron lighting products. I have worked with others but i prefer Lutrons configuration software and their available choices for colors.

Quote:


THERMOSTAT
I am installing new Trane XL20i units, but I guess all that matters is the thermostat I use to control it. Suggestions as to which thermostat brand/model would be greatly appreciated.

This will depend on the control system you use. There are "control system friendly" brands and then their are control system products. Crestron for example has their own thermostat. If you choose to use crestron you would choose their thermostat. Some of the other control system manufacturers also have their own thermostats and the same rule applies.

Quote:


ALARM
I am light on the details of the alarm system, but it would be great to be able to remotely arm/disarm it from my iPhone, as well as arm it from the bedroom with the iPad. Suggestions here would be greatly appreciated.

Just about every control system manufacturer has an iPhone app and some sort of remote access via PC/Mac. Your integrator will have a favorite alarm system they like to work with. Once you know what that is you should post asking for feedback about the product.

Quote:


WINDOW TREATMENTS
This is probably the most difficult/expensive (and probably optional) of all. My wife and I love the idea of being able to wake up in the morning and open all the blinds automatically throughout the house, and close everything in the evening when going to sleep. We do it every day manually in our current townhouse, and it's going to be infinitely more annoying with all the windows in the new place. We have agreed that it is only important on the first floor, but there are a couple of challenges. Firstly, a majority of first floor light comes from the sliding glass doors. Is it viable to automate these? Secondly, there are quite a few small windows (especially looking out to the courtyard) which may run up the cost quickly.

The electrician also said it would be a good idea to decide on the window treatment brand as quickly as possible, since the amperage would need to be calculated into the new plans. I'd love to hear suggestions.

You can have a roller shade drop in front of the sliding glass door. It will mount above it, typically behind a valance, and drop almost all the way to the floor.

Not sure about the need to decide right away. I have been on projects where shades were last minute additions. Obviously this might alter the electricians plan/flow but IMO you should be able to choose your shades later. What IS important is wiring the shade location for high voltage or low voltage or both and control. Different product wire differently.

Quote:


AV SYSTEM
The house was originally wired for surround sound in both the living room and loft, as well as wiring to the outside patio. However, each wiring set seemed to be isolated. The idea of playing music both inside and outside of the house is great, but my guess is we need to setup the wiring to a home run. That way we can control everything in concert. This led us to choosing under the stairs as a homerun location for the equipment. There's quite a bit of room under there, and the airflow seems sufficient.

Under the stairs might work but based on experience i can tell you that it will suck to work on the equipment in there and when working conditions suck people cut corners to get out of there fast. My advice to everyone is to find a space where a fixed rack can be installed so that someone can stand comfortably and wire components. This will make the installation easier/better and every time your system gets upgraded or serviced it will take half the time.

The surround zones don't necessarily need to have their speaker cables pulled all the way back to the head end You can locate a surround receiver locally and route AV & control between their and the head end. This would be the time to call in a pro or an educated DIY guy to take a look at speaker placement. Its very common to find homes wired incorrectly or have speakers placed in strange locations.

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post #3 of 15 Old 07-03-2011, 02:42 PM
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For all of the items you have mentioned, Vantage Controls has a solution. Vantage has their own lighting, thermostat, audio and video components, and interfaces with Somfy or Lutron shades.
The shades themselves and the audio equipment will probably be out of the budget, but everything else should be within.
I would also make sure to include all hall and stair lights and switching in your plans for control.
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post #4 of 15 Old 07-04-2011, 08:42 PM
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Truthfully you don't have enough time. Where are you located? Try to find an installer that knows this stuff which is also a challenge. Look into HAI it will fit your budget and will do everything you want. Also control 4 is another solution. When I do these systems I spend hour upon hours educating the customer I am not trying to scare you but you could spend 4 weeks straight and still not have all the answers.

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post #5 of 15 Old 07-05-2011, 12:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by programmergeek View Post

Truthfully you don't have enough time. Where are you located? Try to find an installer that knows this stuff which is also a challenge. Look into HAI it will fit your budget and will do everything you want. Also control 4 is another solution. When I do these systems I spend hour upon hours educating the customer I am not trying to scare you but you could spend 4 weeks straight and still not have all the answers.

I'm seriously looking into control 4. What would be a list of control 4 components that I should be looking at first? Does it help that my walls are open right now since there's so many wireless options with control 4?
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post #6 of 15 Old 07-05-2011, 03:51 PM
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OK, I can't stand it any longer. Please explain how you have "defective drywall" and how it also included having to remove all the wiring.

Was the house electrically roughed in incorrectly and drywalled before the wiring was inspected???

I'm scratching my head

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post #7 of 15 Old 07-05-2011, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stefuel View Post

OK, I can't stand it any longer. Please explain how you have "defective drywall" and how it also included having to remove all the wiring.

Was the house electrically roughed in incorrectly and drywalled before the wiring was inspected???

I'm scratching my head

Defective Chinese drywall is a very well known issue in some states. There are claims that the production of the drywall caused excessive levels of certain chemicals that may cause health issues, corrode wiring in contact with the drywall, and other various maladies. Here's an older article on it:

http://articles.cnn.com/2009-03-18/u...ances?_s=PM:US
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post #8 of 15 Old 07-05-2011, 04:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stefuel View Post

OK, I can't stand it any longer. Please explain how you have "defective drywall" and how it also included having to remove all the wiring.

This sort of thing happens. just google it.
In my area, Lowes has apparently settled by printing on EVERY receipt the instructions how to settle as part of the suit... what really confuses me with this is that they will give you $50 if you settle, but you don't even need to prove you used any of the defective drywall....

Of course if you are in the situation of this guy, i wouldn't settle for just 50$

As for the electrical... if i had my walls open, as i do, i would take the opportunity to upgrade and rethink all the electrical, as i am...
A small price or effort while the walls are down...
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post #9 of 15 Old 07-05-2011, 06:28 PM
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Yikes. I don't think we ever had a issue like that here in the north east. I've never seen anything around here but name brand wall board like the Sheetrock brand. That sucks. Glad I don't have to deal with that kinda crap.

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post #10 of 15 Old 07-09-2011, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

I like Lutron lighting products. I have worked with others but i prefer Lutrons configuration software and their available choices for colors.

I've narrowed it down to C4 or elan g!


Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

You can have a roller shade drop in front of the sliding glass door. It will mount above it, typically behind a valance, and drop almost all the way to the floor.

Not sure about the need to decide right away. I have been on projects where shades were last minute additions. Obviously this might alter the electricians plan/flow but IMO you should be able to choose your shades later. What IS important is wiring the shade location for high voltage or low voltage or both and control. Different product wire differently.

What really are my options here, especially if lutron is out of my budget? I feel like home automation has made great progress in every area *except* window shades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

The surround zones don't necessarily need to have their speaker cables pulled all the way back to the head end You can locate a surround receiver locally and route AV & control between their and the head end. This would be the time to call in a pro or an educated DIY guy to take a look at speaker placement. Its very common to find homes wired incorrectly or have speakers placed in strange locations.

It seems like we will wire everything back to the home run, since the surround receiver will be centralized with all the other equipment.
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post #11 of 15 Old 07-09-2011, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I met with a professional home automation installer today at the house, and he specializes in Control 4. I was pretty impressed with some of the ideas he had for the home, and it seems like C4 will go a long way in satisfying my automation desires.

There were a few things he mentioned that kind of worry me. Firstly, while the ipad/iphone apps seem to be pretty user friendly, he did warn me that there is a 5ish second delay when logging in locally, and a 10 second delay when logging in remotely. For that reason he said that it would make more sense to have at least one (portable) touchscreen in the home, since there is no delay, and it can be customized more than the ipad application. Is there no way around this delay? I feel like in just a few years, it will be unheard of that someone would need to use a proprietary hardware touchscreen the size of a brick instead of an iPad.

The second thing was that he wasn't too enthusiastic about automating window blinds, mainly because of how expensive the products are on the market today. Is there really no cost effective method for this kind of automation? Lutron is definitely out of the budget, so is there anything I'm missing in this area that has a similar price/performance/quality combination as Control 4?

I've also yet to find a pro that could explain to me the pros and cons of an Elan g! system, as compared to C4. If the iPad experience is significantly better on g!, then I need to know!
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post #12 of 15 Old 07-10-2011, 08:31 AM
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If your integrator wasn't enthusiastic about window coverings it's probably because he has little experience with them. Bring in some companies that specialize in integration friendly motorized window coverings and see what they have to say about your project.

Let your integrator do what he does best and integrate the 3rd party shades of your choice.

Lutron may see expensive, but there is absolutely no comparison between them and everyone else in this venture. Lutron shades are also very integration friendly, allowing easy programming of presets, state tracking, and whole home scenes.

Also if you're doing Lutron lighting control, using the Lutron keypad on the front end for both lighting and shades is very intuitive for the whole family. If you're integrator isn't too friendly with window coverings he will thank you (hopefully in the form of a lower price) for ease of programming on his end.
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post #13 of 15 Old 07-10-2011, 08:08 PM
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The difference of iPad latency may be inconsequential between g and C4. All control systems will have some kind of latency. The home automation app has to start up... which is the iPad's issue.

The contractor set your expectations right in telling you there was latency and additional latency connecting over the internet. In just a few years, you may not need a proprietary UI with your automation system with the iPad being supplemental: but that's the way it is now. If you don't want to wait a few years, this is the proper way to design the system. If you only want iPads, you have to live with app start up latency (and depending on the automation system, a small latency from button press to action).

As for window treatments, Lutron Sivioa is the superior choice. There are many other good choices. But how many, size, blackout only of blackout + diffusing? You may need to figure out your window treatment solution first, then window treatment control system, then integration to an automation system. You need to figure this out now, do not 'prewire and figure out later.'
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post #14 of 15 Old 07-10-2011, 08:45 PM
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I have a dedicated iPad set up to control my audio system. The audio keypad is much quicker - single button press to control the volume, or shut down the zone, or shut off all the zones. With the iPad, it's unlock, swipe to app screen, select app, wait for 'connecting to server', and then button presses. I suggest a dedicated touchpanel in the location that is used most often, plus multiple iPads.

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post #15 of 15 Old 07-10-2011, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Relleum View Post

I've also yet to find a pro that could explain to me the pros and cons of an Elan g! system, as compared to C4. If the iPad experience is significantly better on g!, then I need to know!

One of the reasons is because Elan G! is relatively new compared to C4. Elan has been around for a while but Elan G! is only a few years old (if that). Its the love child of 2 companies merging.

I know that Control4 has a demo GUI for the iPad and im pretty sure Elan G! has one. Download the demos and test drive them.

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