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How to properly start building a relationship with a contractor, simple rules

Choosing a Smart Home Contractor

Дмитрий Карагеур

What to look for when choosing a contractor or ten mistakes when choosing a smart home installer? This video prompted me to record a recently developing trend - more and more often new customers began to receive the same request - Help, Smart Home is not working. We begin to find out - and in each, really, in each such project, there are the same mistakes that the customer could have avoided by watching this video. And I decided to combine all this information into one instruction. This video will be useful to those who are planning to install a smart home system or are in the process of implementing a smart home and want this process to be more efficient and predictable. And finally, it will be useful to those who already have a negative experience of working with smart home contractors and they need to understand what the mistakes were, and possibly subsequently change an incompetent contractor. It should be noted that the list below is compiled by me based on real experience with smart home repairs performed by previous integrators. Bookmark, share with those who want a Smart Home and remember it yourself. This information will allow you to save your nerves, time and of course money. Write in the comments what errors you or your clients encountered.

So 10 mistakes when choosing a smart home contractor - let's go
1.    Working with a contractor with no portfolio, experience or references. Unfortunately, some customers looking for savings start building their projects with inexperienced installers. It also happens that the client says - I have my own people. Usually these people are their employees / assistants from the field of IT or electricians. I think it is unnecessary to say that in the end, for clients, such experiments with installers inexperienced in smart homes (regardless of where they got them from) turn into a significant increase in the budget in 100% of cases. Why is that? There are many reasons - starting with improper design, installation, lack of knowledge of the subject area and ending with negligence and overconfidence in an area where experience and knowledge are needed, because there are hundreds of nuances. Yes, you can say, but how will young companies start without experience? - of course, you can work with young and daring ones, but then all the risks fall on you and you must be sure that they will bring your project to the end.
2.    Work without a contract. Here, as they say, everything depends on the decency of the contractor - if it seems to him that he did everything even if the system does not work - you are unlikely to be able to prove the opposite, and this can happen both at the first stages of the project and at the last, when 95% of the budget has already been mastered by the contractor. There are also performers who intentionally begin to provoke conflicts at the facilities: setting additional conditions, “but we didn’t agree on this,” telling tales that they are busy at other facilities, in general, doing everything so that the customer himself offers to part with them - and why you ask? Because there are no competencies to put the project into operation + the main budget has already been mastered. In general, my recommendation is not to make a smart home without legal documents.
3.    Do not create terms of reference for the development of UD. For reference, the terms of reference or TOR is a document that indicates what functionality should be implemented, with which subsystems the smart home works, in which rooms certain devices are installed, how the Smart home should be controlled, what scenarios / algorithms (in simple verbal form of course) must be implemented. That is, it describes what you, as a client, want to get as a result. NOW IMAGINE this document does not exist - and how will you prove to the performer that you meant it differently? As they say, your expectations are your problems. By the way, the TK also protects the performer, because. removes any kind of uncertainty and fully describes the UD in terms of use and its future functionality.
4.    Working without project documentation is a logical continuation of the previous paragraph. You can't even imagine how many smart homes are made without documentation. It's like building a house without an architectural plan. In my opinion, this is one of the ways of an unscrupulous contractor to get all the ends on himself and then set you prices for work several times higher than the market price. But if you decide to hire a new contractor for revision, reconfiguration or repair / maintenance and you do not have documentation for a smart home, then the new contractor will have to do a technical audit to figure out exactly how the system works, to understand how all the components are connected, and you accordingly you will have to pay for the audit + eventually pay for the design documentation without which it will be impossible to maintain the system in the future. And now write down The minimum package of documentation consists of: technical specifications, single-line diagram, switchboard layout, layout with the location of equipment and the passage of cable routes, cable magazine, specification for materials. Ideally, if there are connection diagrams for complex equipment, as well as a block diagram of the entire system - they are rarely done, but they greatly facilitate the commissioning and maintenance of the system in the future. Recorded? Great let's move on
5.    Do not learn about how you will manage a smart home. Here it may seem that you have to understand the details of building a system, but this is not so. I will give an example - suppose you have a smart home project to control light, curtains and climate. Ask the integrator how they will solve the problems of managing these systems, what methods of interaction with the system the integrator will offer you, and from his answers you will understand, for example, yes - it will be convenient for me to control the climate through a thermostat or not - I want control only through an iPhone / android. Find out how they will connect to third-party systems, such as air conditioners - this will give you an understanding that your contractor understands the topic and will solve a problem specific to your project. There are pitfalls here, both in the form of the lack of experience of the specialists themselves and they may not know how to solve your problem. But there are also pitfalls in the form of limitations and the hardware itself, because there are hundreds of system manufacturers and almost all of them have limitations that the integrator should be aware of. Don't forget to watch the demo of the user interface, find out if you need to pay for licenses for mobile devices, how certain management functions work - in short, ask as many questions as possible to be sure that you and the contractor are in the same coordinate system and you understand what you will get in eventually
6.    Do not learn about the limitations of a smart home to realize your wishes in the future. For most manufacturers of smart systems, any changes - adding global scenarios, light scenes or moods, changing the schedule - is almost always for you to contact the integrator and their programmer. Moreover, there is a high probability that the programmer will have to write such code by hand and from scratch, and this is time-consuming, debugging on the object, and for you additional. expenses. If possible, choose systems that already have built-in functions to tune the system yourself. You don’t go to a service center to set up an alarm clock, calendar, wallpaper or ringtone on your phone - and in a smart home you can also set up frequent system functions yourself, but only if you initially use certain equipment manufacturers. Therefore, again, ask questions to your performers - aware - means armed.
7.    Work without deadlines or work schedule plans. This is especially true at the rough installation stage - where there is a clear sequence of construction work, because in addition to Umnodomnovtsy there are ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, finishing, builders, and if this sequence does not include the installation of cables and mortgages for a smart home, then there is a risk of losing time, shifting all the deadlines for completing the work, and possibly have the consequences of the failure of the work of good teams (which, as a rule, have everything scheduled by the day), and it is possible even to get paid a penalty.
8.    Work with non-professional electricians / guest workers at the stage of rough installation. For some reason, it is believed that laying cables, installing socket boxes is a job that even an unskilled worker can handle. And this is surprising - because even in editing there are a lot of nuances that you need to know! My experience says that customers who save an average of 20-30% of the installation cost by choosing a less professional, but cheaper team end up overpaying because repairs for someone are always more expensive than doing an installation from scratch, plus you need to find more who has the competence to understand the errors and correct them! And I saw a lot of errors in installation: these are unfinished or incorrectly laid cables (should be on the ceiling, coming out of the floor, although the heights are clearly indicated in the project), crooked sockets not in level or with incorrect indents, forgotten routes, short cables, laying the wrong sections and even types of cables. In general, my recommendation is not to save on installation because, as you know, the stingy pays twice.
9.    Lack of acceptance of hidden works - cable laying, installation of mortgages and other hidden things. Standard practice is to check, even for experienced electricians, the result of a rough installation: a mistake can cost - opening a flooded screed, dismantling a tile or other topcoat. Control should be at all stages, and even more so before continuing construction work. If you don’t understand how to make such acceptance of work from your contractor, contact third-party Smart Home consultants, this will save you a lot of money, give you an understanding that everything is fine or something needs to be fixed, and then you can safely proceed to the next stage of finishing, e.g. for flooring or plastering walls.
10.    Do the final acceptance of the work yourself when everything is ready. A big mistake if you do not understand smart homes. My recommendation is to do this together with a professional - who understands how the system should work, what nuances should be taken into account, what should be the result. Because you need to check literally every button, both physical on switches / thermostats / panels and drawn in the interface. It will be extremely difficult to deceive a professional acting as technical supervision - that this is now in the process of being finalized or this is not our responsibility. A simple example from a related industry is the acceptance of finishing work. Suppose you do not understand anything in construction, you hire a specialist (builder - technical supervision) who will check all the nuances: the quality of work, finishing materials, communications outlets, doors, joints, painting / wallpaper, up to the quality of concrete and many other parameters. Seems logical? Yes! In smart homes, everything is the same: it’s better to hire a specialist and be sure that everything is done at the level and your Smart Home is really done with high quality and in accordance with those tasks, or send it for revision than you will immediately recoup the cost of acceptance support, save time, nerves and of course same money.

So let's recap.

Smart Home Contractor Checklist:
1) request a portfolio of work, testimonials from previous clients, ideally chat with them
2) work under a contract
3) do technical task
4) do smart home design
5) find out what equipment the contractor offers, ideally take a demo application and try it yourself
6) learn about all the features of the system so that later you can do some simple tweaks yourself
7) make a work schedule and have prescribed deadlines in the contract
8) work from the very beginning with professional electricians for laying communications and subsequently in the assembly of switchboards and equipment connection - how to understand that they are professional? ask for photos, ask for videos from objects, ask questions and listen to how they are answered
9) accepting hidden work is the key to success that all the necessary cables are laid according to the approved project
10) do the final acceptance of work, accompanied by a Smart Home specialist Choose the right contractor with whom your Smart Home will work, work stably and bring comfort, resource savings and enjoyment to your home!

Article author: Dmitry Karageur

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#DmitryKarageur, #IntellectumHomes, #ThemeSmarthouse

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