If only someone would tell the homeowners how long and winding the path will be to making their technology foundation come true. If someone would tell them that while it seems the perfect design and products have been brought together, there may be (will be) some project hiccups – some delays – an occasional migraine – perhaps one or two that might even merit opening a bottle of pain reliever. If the homeowners were to exam the integrator’s toolcase a bit closer – they might even find said bottle of pain reliever. They just might.


The pains associated with integrating the latest audio, video, lighting and automation technologies can be compared to the delights of building a home. Unexpected pauses in the project, cashflow crunches, multiple change orders and a few surprises along the way will make anyone wonder if their home or their home technology system will reach completion. And with a little luck, a bit of patience and some good project communication – they just might.

Homeowners and residential technology integrators should maintain open communication lines, sharing concerns, progress and hurdles during all phases of integration. Homeowners know that while integrators seem to possess super natural powers and a magical mystique, the fact is, integrators are indeed humans and therefore susceptible to errors/mistakes/screw-ups. No – really, it’s true.

As we are often called in to rescue “integration jobs gone bad”, we hear the same stories about poor communication, which pointed to poor results and an expensive outcome for the homeowner (after we were hired to make the system work). It is apparent in these projects that key topics were not addressed and re-addressed during the integration period, including:

* Project Budgets
* Project Additions
* Design Changes
* Project Delays
* Technical Difficulties
* System Expectations
* Personnel Issues
* Accounting

Homeowners, who also happen to be human, understand and can usually deal with “bad news”. Integrators typically hate sharing bad news or anything that might reflect negatively on them or the project. However, the successful ones understand the continual need for good communication with their customers and learn that sharing bad news actually strengthens their relationship of trust in the end.

Sooooo – as long as the humanly homeowners know upfront there will be issues and delays and all sorts of fun and bewilderment, and as long as the magical integrators continue to update everyone involved throughout the project, the residential system installed can reach completion and everyone can live happily and technologically ever after.

David Teel is Co-founder of Avenida Network, a top-notch and very magical consulting and design firm, who has worked on some of the largest and most bewildering residential integration projects in North America.