Home Automation Cost....doesnt have to be 50K - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I have my HA up and running using CQC. still need to do Lighting and Security but I have A/V, Irrigation, Thermostats, Wireless Cameras all functioning. With touchscreens in each room.


I had a friend ask me about the cost and I can't mislead him with mine since I bought mostly everything off of ebay.

If I was to install for someone else the cost would be different and I will post that in a minute.


Mine was.....

CQC - $495
3 Viewsonic touchscreens $1200
2 PCs $600
1.5 TBs of external Disks $800
Autopatch Matrix switch (and backup) $1100
5 HT receivers $1500
Rain8 irrigation $200
3 Wireless Cameras $600
IP based Thermostats with 2 extra sensors $600
Component video/speakers in every room/speaker wire $3500

total cost $10595

Up for a month without problems...unless I reboot for my own needs.

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post #2 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Now, if I was to install for a friend who wasnt a techie, things go wrong he would be lost so reliability, warranty is very import. All products would be new and not purchased off of ebay.

Approx costs.....

1 CQC $895
4 Samsung Q1 touchscreens $3600
2 PCs $1500
1.5 TB $800
DVD changer $500
Lutron lighting system $3600
Rain8net $200
Thermostats $500
Run cat5e (or cat6) everywhere and use matrix switches that work over cat5e
A/V matrix switch $3000 ??
HT receivers in specific rooms $1000
Russound or Zantech amps in all other zones $1500
Security/wireless Cameras $1200


So I tell him ballpark $18200....where can he save money?

and what Did I miss?

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post #3 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 09:21 AM
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I'd just as soon guide higher in the beginning, let him go lower as desired. Tell him it's just $20K, if he reacts badly then he can save $$ by buying used. No good can come of guiding him at $12-$15K and then upselling.

Add
- $1000 or so for cables & tools (so you can get the nicer stuff)
- $500 more for PCs esp if one of them is doing HD video rendering. Give him room to get a Core2Duo with a higher end graphics card for the renderer.
- $300-$700 for PVR; SageTV plus either HD cards or that RD5000 HD thingey
- $(300?) more for the 1.5TB so you can get one of those RAID5 in a box thingeys, so he doesn't curse you out when a hard disk fails.

So that's somewhere bet $20K-$21K for all new stuff rounded out. BTW, I didn't include any security stuff like motion sensors/etc, which would be another $1K-$3K based on what you want to do.

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post #4 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 10:32 AM
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i have been reading many of these threads on home automation, and it looks like those autopatches are great for the prices off of ebay. Where can i get more info on them, the website doesnt go into enough detail for me. Do you need adapters to convert the component and digital audio from the autopatch? Can you guys shed some more light on this? I want 4 hd tvs in my house, and i would love one of those AVATRIX devices, but i think 3k is too much.

thanks
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post #5 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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IVB thanks! I will tell him $25K for a superb system because Im sure Im missing things and I didnt include speakers installed in every room. The PC upgrades for HD and Vista, etc are worth it long term. I tend to price PCs cheap because I always find refurbished ones that do a great job.

digitalready, Autopatch info can be found on the CQC forum. I dont want to get into details about that single device here. I will say this my Autopatch has currently 5 HD cards IN/5 HD cards OUT (thats 3 component BNC connections and 1 Digital Audio BNC connection per card). Simply plug in all your cables, control the device through a serial connection and you have simple/reliable full A/V switching matrix solution.

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post #6 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Approx costs.....

1 CQC $895
4 Samsung Q1 touchscreens $3600
2 PCs $2500
1.5 TB $1500 (Raid)
DVD changer $500
Lutron lighting system $3600
Rain8net $200
Thermostats $500
Run cat5e (or cat6) everywhere and use matrix switches that work over cat5e (structured wiring costs part of house, extra ethernet runs not much more)
A/V matrix switch $3000 ??
HT receivers in specific rooms $1000
Russound or Zantech amps in all other zones $1500
Speakers in all rooms (7 pairs x $250) $1750 HT room extra!!
Security/wireless Cameras $1200
PVR, HD Cable Box already owned and using...but will be able to share it in all rooms.

Cost around $21K.

lol, A local Russound dealer quoted him 15K for a Audio mulitzone solution with lighting.

I keep thinking I should go into business in my area once I get full expertise of all products involved. I can undercut all those guys by 50% for some reason and with the average house price above $400K it might be a viable business for a hobby.

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post #7 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 10:52 AM
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digitalready,

I'm doing an installation for my dad, and I went Extron instead of Autopatch. They're basically the same thing except Autopatch has some lower end stuff (stuff that uses RCA cables). The better stuff will use Phoenix connectors for analog audio and BNC for analog video (I know with Extron you can also get DVI switchers, however there are no digital video switchers that are HDCP compliant). I'm unsure about digital audio switching since I've never seen something that does that. I only assume it exists.

As far as pricing goes, I was shopping on eBay for the Extron switcher for my dad and lost a 16x16 Composite AV Matrix Switcher (that is 16 ins and 16 outs). I lost it at the last second for $330. I only cared about the audio portion, but the retail for that piece is some $7600. But even if I went with JUST want I need (an 8x8 Audio only Matrix Switch) the Extron unit is retail $2200. That's certainly too much, but the next day I did see an 8x8 Composite AV Matrix Switcher go on eBay for $235 ($300 after shipping) so I jumped on that.

Anyhow, enough of my story. For your HD video switching, that becomes a problem with HDCP. If the HD you have in your house only goes up to 720p, it shouldn't be a problem, but if you want 1080p then you're SOL. If you don't mind going to component (which isn't really a good practice... a digital signal is best if it's digital all the way to the TV unless it's a CRT HD, then it doesn't matter) then you can use any component or composite switch that you can find on eBay as long as it has enough ports. A composite switch will require 3 ports per component signal (unless you expand out to RGBHV, then you need 5). So with 4 HD tvs you want to switch to, that would require a minimum of 12 composite ports on the switch. If you can find a component switch, then one port per will work (because each port has 5 connectors).

If you want to go the eBay route, then the best bet is just to keep and eye out and be willing to change your plan around what you can find and/or what you're willing to spend. The 16x16 Matrix I tried to get was certainly far more than I needed, but the price was great. I spent the same amount for an 8x8 Matrix in the end and lost nothing.
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post #8 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


They're basically the same thing except Autopatch has some lower end stuff (stuff that uses RCA cables). The better stuff will use Phoenix connectors for analog audio and BNC for analog video

Lower end stuff and better stuff are subjective terms (kind of like reading about Monster stuff ). Autopatch new is very expensive and it is high end equipment that will switch component video.

I have a 1080P setup. I have quality video through Autopatch. Enough said about what each will offer. Im switching Digital Audio with my Autopatch.

One thing about buying matrix switches is that you shouldnt just by anything. Some wont switch more then a 1 to 1 (source to output), Some dont have Serial communication, Some dont have really high enough bandwidth. These things need to be double checked.


Now lets stick to pricing out home automation for my friend

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post #9 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardentfrost View Post


If you want to go the eBay route, then the best bet is just to keep and eye out and be willing to change your plan around what you can find and/or what you're willing to spend. The 16x16 Matrix I tried to get was certainly far more than I needed, but the price was great. I spent the same amount for an 8x8 Matrix in the end and lost nothing.

Good Advice. I snagged a 8x8 RGBHV + 8x8 stereo Audio Series 100 Extron Matrix Switcher for less than $300. The RGBHV does Component just fine with 400Mhz Boards, plus I have the stereo audio and RS232 control to boot. I just saw another 200 Series Extron go for around $250. These units were $10K+ in their prime.
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post #10 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 01:29 PM
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So Penngray, you will go into business and sell and install this system for a customer for 21k. So your business will have zero overhead, zero labor, zero profit.

What do you think your exact list sold and installed would really cost someone? You can't seriously think it could be done for 21k. As aDIY project, with an unlimited timeframe, maybe you could get it done for this price, but as a commercial sale, it is ridiculous. The system you describe is most assuredly a 50k system if it is professionally designed and installed. The premise of your original post, if it meant a complete DIY solution may be somewhat accurate, but if you are telling people that they can have the functionality you describe in a turnkey system for 21k, then you are completely delusional.
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post #11 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 02:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

I have a 1080P setup. I have quality video through Autopatch. Enough said about what each will offer. Im switching Digital Audio with my Autopatch.

One thing about buying matrix switches is that you shouldnt just by anything. Some wont switch more then a 1 to 1 (source to output), Some dont have Serial communication, Some dont have really high enough bandwidth. These things need to be double checked.

Are you saying you have the ability to switch a 1080p signal to multiple sources? Unless something major changed in the last 6 months, that's not supposed to be allowed. You can switch DIGITAL signals, but you have to have HDCP compliant pieces of equipment for 1080p, and Intel will not certify anything that allows the splitting of the signal (that is, HDCP material going to multiple devices). The only reason I know that is because of a conversation I had with an Extron employee about why they don't have HDMI switchers last July.

And as for matrix switches, if it's really a MATRIX switch (the matrix being the keyword) it's supposed to, by definition, allow one input to multiple outputs. If it doesn't, it's just a plain old switcher. At work I deal exclusively with Extron, so I guess there could be misleading equipment out there I don't know about. If so, that really sucks
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post #12 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 02:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertmee View Post

Good Advice. I snagged a 8x8 RGBHV + 8x8 stereo Audio Series 100 Extron Matrix Switcher for less than $300. The RGBHV does Component just fine with 400Mhz Boards, plus I have the stereo audio and RS232 control to boot. I just saw another 200 Series Extron go for around $250. These units were $10K+ in their prime.

Very true. eBay is a great place to get equipment like this. The 16x16 I saw was surplus equipment from Univ. of Nebraska - Lincoln. The 8x8 I got was a sample unit someone got rid of. You see stuff like that all the time on there for sure. I see similar situations for Autopatch switchers as well.

However, if you were to do it professionally, it's not reasonable to rely on eBay when quoting your price. But for DIY or DIFAF (do it for a friend ) situations, it's great!
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post #13 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 02:35 PM
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penngray, for your price projection for your friend, how many zones is he going to have? If it's 6 or less, it seems you'd do better to push the audio using the Niles 1230. It's MSRP is 1k, but you can get it a couple hundred less than that new or even better on eBay. That seems to be about half the price of your quoted amps for zones.
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post #14 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardentfrost View Post

penngray, for your price projection for your friend, how many zones is he going to have? If it's 6 or less, it seems you'd do better to push the audio using the Niles 1230. It's MSRP is 1k, but you can get it a couple hundred less than that new or even better on eBay. That seems to be about half the price of your quoted amps for zones.

Ssssssh!

I've been trying to get one for the past 3 weeks, but keep getting sniped! I can get one for $610 new via a friend who's a dealer, but was hoping for less. Some shmuck got one for $400 3 weeks ago, i just missed out on that.

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post #15 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Are you saying you have the ability to switch a 1080p signal to multiple sources?

PS3 is 1080P, my JVC 61" is 1080P and I can see the HD stuff so I dont know. Maybe its 1080i?

You could be right but it switches any High Def video I need so that is all I care about.

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post #16 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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However, if you were to do it professionally, it's not reasonable to rely on eBay when quoting your price.

and Im not actually, Im going with pricing found online for new equipment. I will look up the Niles 1230, he only needs 6 zones.

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post #17 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
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The system you describe is most assuredly a 50k system if it is professionally designed and installed. The premise of your original post, if it meant a complete DIY solution may be somewhat accurate, but if you are telling people that they can have the functionality you describe in a turnkey system for 21k, then you are completely delusional.

never said the selling price is 21K but Im sure I can sell it easily for less then 50K. Yes, it would be as good as any professional custom install. Why do "professionals" think we cant do better. Heck I build software for a living, everything I do for money is professional so this would be just another piece of software.

The only question for me here is there really a market for me to branch my business into a new area. I know there isnt really any professionals in my area, definitely know one selling simple turnkey solutions locally.

yes mine is DIY but there is no reason I can not convert that into a turnkey product and purchase all new equipment. It would run as flawless as any other turnkey solution garunteed because that is what I do for a living already. I write software for companies that run 24/7 and have automated systems that run day and night. Do you think I want to be called at 4 am? No.....hey guess what.....instead of over priced $200K unix servers we run 15K PC servers.....um....I know where to save money and still perform!

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post #18 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I dont even know what CQC costs for a professional. I know its much higher so thats a question mark.

I also dont know what CQC professional installs are running Im just going over the hardware list and breaking the costs down to find out what things really costs because the quotes from installers in my area doesnt work out with the true costs of equipment.

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post #19 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 05:23 PM
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The MSRP pro costs are on the web site, under the Try/Buy tab. If you don't need the media system, it's $1595. But there's no yearly maintenance, and it includes priority support. That would include any optional components except the media system.

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post #20 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 05:29 PM
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Component video can carry 1080p signal. Some devices can and do output 1080p over component and a very few displays accept and display 1080p over component video. Most pro level component video matrix switches have plenty of bandwidth to switch 1080p over component. This is not a very common thing now, or even later, but it is possible.

There will likely be HDMI matrixes available sometime, but the cost will be high and the reliability low unless the quirkiness of HDMI is addressed.

Penn, nothing I wrote said that you couldn't sell a system that was as good or even better than any other professional company. But if you think that many CI firms are making a huge margin and just raping their customers, then you are sorely mistaken. The labor costs to build a system such as you describe would be very high. the cost of your equipment would be very high and there isn't as much margin as you might think. I'll ask you again, if your cost for equipment for the aforementioned system was 21k, what do you think you should sell it to a non-freind customer for? Fully installed, programmed, warranted, etc., and still make a profit that could sustain a business.
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post #21 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 06:03 PM
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You can send 1080p over component cables? HDCP is a digital signal, so how does that work? I'm certainly no HDMI or HDCP expert, I can only tell you what the guy from Extron told me, and that is that 1080p requires HDCP authentication at source and display, otherwise the signal is down converted. He said that to use HDCP, you have to register with Intel and they will not let you use it unless you follow very specific rules. But regardless of that, did they loosen the rules on HDCP with 1080p signals? I mean, I know component could carry the bandwidth of the 1080p signal, I'm talking about a weakness with sources and displays needing HDCP.
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post #22 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 07:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Fletch, great points.

I listed the hardware above and I wonder what Im missing.

Full home automation defined as.

-Audio/video distribution
-lighting (only important areas, we dont need expensive switches everywhere. I use sensor switches from Home Depot in all hallways, bathrooms, etc. They are awesome.)
- Security (3 or 4 cameras, web based and PC based recording).
- IP Thermostats
- irrigation

What else does a house need? Im sure there are some things.

All the hardware listed above is still under 25K....so software development and installation would not be another 25K or even 10K. I would take 5K, heck its a side job (do it on the weekend ). I cant install 20+ a year anyways not enough volume to do that.

I guess the margin is there because of the limited installs.


Quote:


But if you think that many CI firms are making a huge margin and just raping their customers

I 100% do believe they take advantage of customers. In terms of the fact the customers are buying something they have no clue about. Sellers can always put a premium on something a customer cant comparison shop. I saw that when I was quoted systems but I know touchscreens dont cost 3K

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post #23 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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and that is that 1080p requires HDCP authentication

I thought 1080p is simply a resolution?

My setup.

PS3 is 1080P
JVC 61" is 1080P

Autopatch Switch sends the video signal from PS3 to JVC. It works, Why is there still debate over that?

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post #24 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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I know component could carry the bandwidth of the 1080p signal, I'm talking about a weakness with sources and displays needing HDCP.

HDCP is for someone else to worry about, I dont care about it nor do I need to know anything about it.


Lets just conclude that Autopatch has no problem sending the 1080p signal. The HD video cards have high enough bandwidths and the guy at extron is blow smoke up your butt.

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post #25 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by penngray View Post

I 100% do believe they take advantage of customers. In terms of the fact the customers are buying something they have no clue about. Sellers can always put a premium on something a customer cant comparison shop. I saw that when I was quoted systems but I know touchscreens dont cost 3K

Sigh. That's just silly and such comments can be thrown at any profession including yours in spades. The last sentence is also inaccurate as touchscreens most certainly can and do cost 3K and much more. The fact that you don't think they are worth 3K is a different issue.

Otherwise nice thread.
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post #26 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 08:11 PM
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Ok, forget the HDCP stuff... it currently doesn't matter because no company wants to encode their content with it yet. HDCP compliance won't matter til they do, which might be never.

All I knew about it was from before there was really any content yet, and everyone was freaking out about the limits of HDCP.
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post #27 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 08:17 PM
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The last sentence is also inaccurate as touchscreens most certainly can and do cost 3K and much more.

Lol, very true. My favorite touchscreen is the AMX MVP-8400i... MSRP of $5800. And I know you can get ELO to make screens of any size... I'd bet a 70" touch screen would be pretty expensive.
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post #28 of 86 Old 02-08-2007, 08:46 PM - Thread Starter
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lol, QQQ yes I mean they are not worth 3K. I know they can cost even more then that.

so I still have my hardware costs around 25K.....

1 CQC $895
4 Samsung Q1 touchscreens $3600
2 PCs $2500
1.5 TB $1500 (Raid)
DVD changer $500
Lutron lighting system $3600
Rain8net $200
Thermostats $500
Run cat5e (or cat6) everywhere and use matrix switches that work over cat5e (structured wiring costs part of house, extra ethernet runs not much more)
A/V matrix switch $3000 ??
HT receivers in specific rooms $1000
Russound or Zantech amps in all other zones $1500
Speakers in all rooms (7 pairs x $250) $1750 HT room extra!!
Security/wireless Cameras $1200
PVR, HD Cable Box already owned and using...but will be able to share it in all rooms.


Quote:


I'll ask you again, if your cost for equipment for the aforementioned system was 21k, what do you think you should sell it to a non-freind customer for? Fully installed, programmed, warranted, etc., and still make a profit that could sustain a business.

To sustain a business, I would have to first find out how many installs per year exist. I have no idea because Im just still finding out the cost stage.What I do know is that all local companies doing any sort of H/A rely on other core business first so I suspect the volume isnt good enough to create a viable business on its own.

This business case is hypothetical at best anyways, I have a cash cow of a job so Im not really thinking that hard.

I do think that price point for H/A has to come down so that people buying 200K and up can put in systems. Like 10-15K for a complete robust A/V distribution system is reasonable in my delusional mind (I did it for less). Sell it to the builders and then they can add it as an upgrade, just like 10K more in Granite countertops.

Builders I know build whole communities, 20-30 houses at a time. add 15K systems to 20 houses, take 4K of it and thats 80K...its a small start. I just think the reason houses dont have these systems is because of the price point and the industry seems to not care.

I would rather put it in 20 houses at 15K then 2 houses at 40K. If hypothetically thats the price point.

Who knows what the price point is to make it as common as air conditioning buts not its current price point.

It is not "open-minded" to reject knowledge - Bob Lee
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post #29 of 86 Old 02-09-2007, 04:23 AM
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You've touched on something I've often wondered about.....

In speaking with many professionals, the higher costs (perceived or real) often come from the labor of tweaking in a system to fit a client's needs. That's where margins get eaten up, constantly having to revisit a job site, to add some piece of functionality that was omitted or that the customer felt they needed (whether it was defined or not in the specs). And, each time some variation to a pre-defined system occurs, you are introducing additional possibilities of warranty calls, since they are done on the fly without being vetted and proven over several systems.

So......That leads me to my question for professional installers. It would seem that the real cash cow of this business is the turn-key pre-install for new construction. Develop a pre-defined system, install it as an optional upgrade to a home and walk away. It avoids having to tweak a system to a customer's desire, because the customer doesn't exist yet. And, it opens up the potential for continued revenue when the customer does appear and wants some modifications. Almost like ADT who often pre-wires homes for security in the hopes you'll see their sticker and join their cult.

I know how construction contractors beat up on subs for pricing, so maybe that's the hurdle, but I'm just surprised I don't hear this more as an option in new home construction.
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post #30 of 86 Old 02-09-2007, 05:18 AM
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Penngray, I think you said you were a software developer. What kind of hourly rate do you charge your customers? Do you think you are the only person/company that can do what you do? Do you think someone could do what you do "on the side" and charge less?

Just because you don't put a value on something, doesn't mean that others don't.

You could address EVERY business that exists this same way. Someone can do it cheaper. That doesn't mean that everyone who is more expensive is ripping off their clients. On this forum, it seems that the only business that isn't allowed to make a profit is a Custom Install business.

If you fix your own plumbing buying parts at home depot, do you think it should have cost the same if you hired a plumber?

And what other "core" business do CI firms rely on to allow them to do home automation? I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding about the custom install business.
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