We have heard from some people that “I don’t want anything to do with that home automation stuff. I had a system. It never worked and it was harder to figure out than the old system.” Unfortunately, this is a common complaint. Home owners have invested good money in automation technology, only to find that it is hard to operate, glitchy, unattractive or unreliable. How does this happen? There are several possible reasons, and they all have solutions. OneTouch Automation not only installs new systems, we also rescue homeowners who have systems that don’t do the job. Here are some of the problems:

They started the process wrong: Many homeowners think it is fairly simple to get a quote on a home system. In fact, in the real world every home system is to some degree a custom job. The process has to begin with a site inspection, meetings with all affected parties including the owner, designer and any other contractors. It requires choosing a contractor who will really understand the owners needs both now and in the future, who will respect their budget and come back to explain the proposal so there is never any miscommunication about exactly what the technology will do. The quote can only come after this process is complete.

They underestimated the cost: While integrated home technology is more affordable than ever, there is still a financial commitment to be made to a good system. On-line retailers will try to sell “home automation packages” for a few hundred dollars that are no better than toys. Unscrupulous contractors may try to sell less than you actually need in order to get the job. A smart home owner deals with a company that will be realistic about the cost of a quality system, uses the finest hardware, cable and finishes, and is completely up front about the investment involved. Even if a system costs a bit more, the homeowner will enjoy the quality and reliability long after they have forgotten the price.

They tried to use old equipment that was not suited to new technology: Every piece of equipment has a life expectancy. With technology changing at a faster and faster pace, an LCD screen that is six years old may not be as sophisticated as a new one. In some cases, using old parts is like building a weak link into the system. It can actually be less expensive in the long run to replace ageing gear rather than to try and save a small amount by reusing it. You need a contractor who can do a detailed evaluation of what you have and give you an honest answer about what stays and what goes. Even worse, some home owners may try to salvage old dimmers or old thermostats. That can be unreliable and also dangerous. The right contractor has access to licensed electricians who look after the safety of any installation.

They used an inexperienced contractor: Installing a whole home automation system is not simple or easy. No-one wants their money used to train someone on the job. When people are working inside your home, you need to know that they have the training, certification and references that will give you confidence. System programming is key, and you want to know that you have someone who can not only do the basics, but also do the really difficult de-bugging that can make all the difference to your experience. Ask the right questions: What industry recognized training and certification do they have? Is this the only thing they do, or is this a side line? How many jobs like yours have they worked on? And make sure you call their references. If they have done a good job in the past, their clients will be happy to talk to you about it.

They didn’t get the support they need: How the integrator treats you after the system is in can be one of the most important parts of the job. Get the warranty in writing. Get the contractors commitment on how they will deal with any deficiencies, equipment upgrades or changes. Find out if they are leaving diagrams that another contractor can understand. Find out if you actually own the software, program and passwords in case you need to have someone else service the system. Ask how much training you will get. A good contractor won’t leave the house until everything is done and the client is completely happy.

If you’ve had a bad experience with home automation, don’t give up. At OneTouch, we have found that some bad systems can be corrected with fairly small changes in wiring and programming, If more than that is needed, we’ll tell you honestly and make the changes required to produce the system you dreamed of having in the first place. If you are new to home automation, we ask you to make sure that any contractor you use doesn’t make the mistakes above. Start off right, invest the right amount, get the right contractor and the support you need, and you will have years of trouble free enjoyment of your automated home technology.