How to select an AV contractor

Step 1

You have decided to build your new home with all the latest technological advancements and with future proofing in mind

Step 2

You choose your design team. You are already working with a well known Architect, Interior Designer, Builder, HVAC supplier. What about making sure all the lights, music, heating and cooling are being controlled by a single touch? Not only for the comfort and luxury, but also to maximize savings, to help save our precious planet by conserving the energy and to help the environment by using green technology. Have you selected your Audio Video or Home Automation solutions provider?

Step 3

You choose your buidling contractors. Architects, Civil Engineers, Interior Designers, Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers – all the trades have professional certification which is governed by their professional associations and guarantees a professional quality solution. For you protection, you’ll chose certified contractors. But what about the AV guys?

Step 4

You choose your Home Automation provider. There are certifications for the audio visual trade. But they are not governed by any association and there is no official authority to review and certify their works. For an electrician, he must obtain an occupancy permit from ESA. What about the AV contractor? Do they need any certification to prove what they have done meets minimum standards? How would you know about an AV company before you select them? How do you protect yourself from inexperienced suppliers or bad workmanship?

Here are few hints:

  1. Check to make sure they have on-staff Designer and Programmer. Ask them for a sample design of one or two of their past projects
  2. Ask them about the AV certifications their employees have
  3. Ask them if they will have a dedicated Project Manager for your project
  4. Ask them about the post install service and guarantee
  5. Ask them about the installation and delivery schedule
  6. Ask for at least two recently completed clients reference. Call those reference and if possible visit one of the project to see their quality standard for yourself.
  7. Ask them if they would provide consultancy services and if they would meet with your Architect or Interior Designer. One meeting with Architect and Interior design can open up exciting new possibilities. A simple half an hour meeting will bring up most of the items required. You will know if immediately that company has actually done similar projects or not.
  8. Finally, let them know you would like to review the project with three different company for competitive fairness. They should have no problem with this.
  9. If you are satisfied with all of the above criteria, most likely you have selected a good AV contractor.
  10. Please make sure you ask the contractor to keep you updated on a daily or weekly basis.

Step 5

You review the Home Automation proposal.

Most company will ask you for a deposit before proceeding with the order, which is normal in any industry. Before you provide a deposit cheque, make sure you have a detailed

  1. Proposal with scope of work
  2. Preliminary Systems design along with the proposal
  3. A contract or agreement of services

Step 6

You provide the deposit and sign the contact. What should happen now?

  1. Ask them to submit their design along with proposal. Ask them to work with your Architect and Interior Designer and all other trades to avoid any delays or compatibility problems between trades.
  2. Ask for a schematic diagram of Control, Audio, Video, Power and Ethernet
  3. Review the proposal along with the design and make sure the information being provided to you accurately reflects your meetings with the company.

Note:

After handing over a deposit, you should not make any payment to the contractor until you receive the delivery of the products. It would be a good practice to pay for only the products you have received.

Step 7

The Home Automation contractor provides you with documentation.

Once the project is complete, everything is working and you are prepared to pay the final invoice, this will provide additional security:

  1. Ask for As Built Drawings.
  2. Ask for the copy of the programs.

Until you receive the above two items, it would be in your best interest not to clear the final invoice or to withhold the retainer until you receive them.

Step 8

You Enjoy the comfort and security provided by your home automation system!