smart home systems

Smart Home Systems – Retrofit Solutions

Retrofit Solutions | 02-11-2022

Approximately 50% of our smart home systems projects are retrofit solutions …. 

And when we’re talking about smart home systems, we don’t just mean Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or an Apple HomeKit!

A retrofit solution is an upgrade to the smart home systems within an existing property, where there is minimal or even no planned building works. These projects rely upon the existing infrastructure and are often fraught with complexity and challenge.

We thrive on these projects and accept the challenges they bring.

We use our ‘solutions driven’ ethos to find ways to bring the technology back to life, even when we have little cabling available to us.

We tackle these projects in a comparable way to our new build projects. It always starts with the end goal: what does the client wish to achieve room by room, or system by system?

We always offer on-site consultations for these projects.

  • We meet with the client and discuss the current technological possibilities. Then we listen to their pain points and the way in which the house is not working for them at present.
  • We often visit each room and capture the required functionality along with an initial survey as to what cables are in place within the room. Often they can be tucked behind TV’s or in cupboards.
  • At this stage, we discuss exactly how you want to control your smart home – maybe you want smart locks or to use voice commands or even to control the garage door from the kitchen. We review everything from home security systems, smart speakers to smart plugs and other smart home gadgets.
  • We then visit each of the central locations within the property, documenting them with photographs and notes. There is often a central data location where there might be an equipment rack already in place or a lighting control panel location.
  • We are regularly faced with properties that have absolutely no cables in them – or just the internet router in the study or hallway. We have ways in which we can overcome this by decentralising the installation, creating small local equipment locations in each room. We can even supply the furniture needed to house the equipment thanks to our great partnership with Clic in Denmark!

Working with your existing smart home installation

We are also aware that aspects of an existing installation or a more recent purchase might still be fully working.

We always work with our clients to evaluate the pros and cons of retaining this equipment.  If it is right for the project and in working order, we will do everything we can to retain it in order to avoid additional costs.

Back in the office, the team discusses the requirements compared to the infrastructure that we found in place. We review the photographs, make notes on any floor plans and then we start to solve the puzzle and find a way forward.

We then put together a detailed, line itemised proposal split into systems and then rooms. This is often accompanied by a presentation and images. We send this to the client and then welcome a follow up debrief meeting online, at the property or in our Showroom. We highlight any areas of concern in terms of cabling, and we outline the scope for the detailed survey which takes place upon appointment.

During the detailed survey we ensure we have space for the equipment – we check TV dimensions, wall construction, rack space for example. We also test the data cables which are to be used for the new system to ensure that they pass and our plan is viable. Sometimes we agree to install 2-3 new cables so during the survey we agree the routes for these with the client.

The engineers in charge of the survey then feedback the results to us.  We can then make any minor amendments to the proposal before sending the equipment stage invoice to the client. The project then follows a normal rollout in that everything is prepared off site. The new equipment rack is built offsite at our HQ (if there is a rack), the network is preconfigured, and the control system pre-programmed.

Once everything has been tested, we arrange a date with the client to install the system.  At this point, we discuss how this can be done in a concise way to minimise downtime in the property.

This diligent process has been refined over many years and it ensures that we do not fail when deploying these complex upgrade solutions. Each time we have come across a challenge or an issue in the past, we have amended our process to avoid the issue in future.

We are aware some companies steer away from these types of projects due to the unknowns and the elevated levels of risk. We see them as a massive opportunity.  We’ve carried out some of our most exciting projects for some incredible clients as upgrade projects. It gives the opportunity to breathe new life into ageing installations – the impact on the family is huge and immediate.

Over the years we have seen some ‘horrors’ as you can imagine.

I’ve gathered a selection of the world’s most dated technology, alongside some of the worst cable management ever seen!  Watch this space as I’ll try to follow this up with before and afters in a future blog!


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