Planning your smart home

The purpose of a smart home is to reduce your interaction with mundane activities and increase your enjoyment of exciting and leisure activities.

I often spend time with clients trying to understand their requirements, let’s take listening to music as an example, I ask a client, how do you listen to music? what’s your source? where do you listen to music in your home? How many people live in the house and what are their ages… I like to know if a customers interaction methods are out of compromise, convenience or choice.
The aim is to change compromise to choice and to ensure convenience is not a compromise.
People deciding to go ahead and have a smart home often fall into one of two broad categories :
Retrofit or New install

Let’s explore the retrofit scenario

I generally classify any intrusive installation done to an already finished property as a retrofit.
It’s great that even if you already have a home that you are settled in, you can retrofit components to make it smart but there are obvious disadvantages to retrofitting when compared to a new installation, obvious examples are the cost of redecorating and sometimes the inability to completely achieve some requirements due to inaccessibility.
In contrast to retrofitting, a new build provides a blank canvas full of opportunities making it a lot easier to run the necessary infrastructure.
Whichever way you go, new build or retrofit, your best bet is to plan to have your home built with current and future smart requirements in mind.

So how do you plan for a smart home?

It’s important to separate the thought of what you want from how you would achieve it.
So a table of requirements and locations is essential, creating a table with requirements eg smart lighting vs location eg living room is a good starter for 10.

Here’s a list of steps you can use to plan your smart home.

1. Clever Planning 
2. Whats cumbersome and unappealing
3. What things do you need to do but forget to do? 
4. What things will you like to do but the steps it takes to achieve them are too complicated
5. What are those things you love to experience?
6. Budget

1. Clever Planning 

What is required in each room? make a list to note if lighting, music, TV wifi network ports are required per room. This will later come in handy when you speak to your home automation professional.

2. The cumbersome and unappealing

Ask yourself and your family what activities in your current home you find cumbersome and unappealing, these are perfect candidates for automation as they can be set to run automatically. Like watering the lawn, this can be automated and linked to the weather forecast so it is not watered if there is a forecast of enough rain at some point in the day. 

3. Forgetful Jones 

What things do you need to do but forget to do? These could be as simple as closing the loft window when leaving the house or settings the home alarm on exit, ensuring all the lights are off when you go to bed ….. the list is endless but with the right automation in place, these examples can run without any user interaction.

4. Needs a degree in this …

What things will you like to do but the steps it takes to achieve them are too complicated. This may seem obvious but watching a movie in surround sound with the correct lighting in the room is at least a 5 step process without automation, using the projector in the cinema room playing music from your music collection etc are things that if they take too much effort only the very keen get to enjoy them.

5. Love at a single touch of a button 

What are those things you love to experience? these fall into two categories, those things you would love in your home that you don’t already have and those that you currently have or experience but want to make smart or smarter. Smart lighting, for instance, can give you control of several areas of independent lighting called zones grouped to react together at different levels to create what is referred to as a lighting scene at the touch of a button eg a movie scene, cleaning scene or security scene.

6. Is it in the Budget?

 It is surprising how many people go through the process of planning the building or renovation of their homes without a planned budget for the works allocated to their smart home requirements. Putting aside a nominal amount for home automation is a good idea, on average it could be up to 5% of your built budget depending on the quality and extent to which you want to follow through.


The best way to achieve your goals regarding a smart home is to discuss it with a smart home specialist, Smart home specialist are exposed to a lot of technology and have experience providing solutions to many varied customers, they also usually have specialist training and direct support from manufacturers of the equipment that you will eventually have installed and are best placed to help you with the planning of your dream smart home.

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