#SmartHome's...what do I need and how much is it? #GDLive opening weekend review


The first two days of Grand Designs Live 2015 have been an amazing experience for Customised, working on the HDL UK stand, L289 in GRAND Technology, has given us a rare insight into the Smart Home views of hundreds of homeowners each day.

Their response to HDL has been terrific, they love the keypads, the new app, the motorised curtains and blinds and the special offers available during the show. This year I have noticed that visitors have an even greater awareness of Smart Home products and solutions. This must the effect of brands like Nest or LightwaveRF appearing in edge of town DIY stores.

Below is a summary of some of the FAQ's which came up on the opening weekend on the HDL stand.

Do I need to run cables or is it all wireless?

Cables are vitally important to creating a Smart Home. Cat 6 cable delivers content to your Smart TV, provides a strong wi-fi signal wherever you need it and connects your HD CCTV for mobile device viewing.

Loudspeaker cable connects your speakers to your amplifiers for multi-room music or home cinema. Coax cable is still necessary for services like Sky, Freeview or Cable TV.

KNX Bus cable is a brand agnostic cable for controlling services like heating, lighting and home monitoring sensors. Confirm with your installer/electrician exactly what cables are required for your chosen home control system, some use Cat6, Cat7 or traditional twin & earth.

Ensure you provide power cable and control cable at windows where you want motorised blinds or curtains.

Take note as well that you will need space for the Smart Home equipment and a wiring distribution point. A storage cupboard reserved for electrics and technology would be advisable, this could be anywhere in the house.

When should I start planning the Smart Home system?

As early as possible. Work with your architect and chosen Smart Home installer to integrate your home control system into your plans before going out and getting quotes from trades who will come into contact with the Smart Home system. Your plumber, electrician, underfloor heating supplier and interior designer will benefit from knowing your going Smart from the outset. This will avoid quotes changing later in the project because they may see this as change from the "norm". Having a Smart Home should not drastically effect your budget if all parties communicate effectively.

What should I budget for some of the Smart Home functions available?

You're going to need cables. 1000m of Cat6 at £300 should cover a large 3 bedroom home, 150m of KNX bus cable at £150, speaker cabling for multi-room audio in a couple of rooms should be around £100 and coaxial cabling to all TV locations and your satellite dish should be around £150  again.

If you are planning a multi-room audio system like Sonos or Denon Heos, budget at around £5-600 per room/zone for a stereo pair of speakers and a zone amplifier.

A high definition CCTV camera starts from £150 for one which is viewable on mobile devices and may record to the cloud and have motion detection.

Network equipment like routers, wireless access points and switches should have a budget of around £300 for secure, reliable hardware which serves your internet connected devices. You'll also need an enclosure for all your Smart Home wiring

A lighting control system for the aforementioned 3 bedroom example house with dimmable lighting throughout with multi-functional keypads offering lighting and heating control built-in would be around £3-4000.

A zonal underfloor heating control system with intelligent thermostats provided as part of your multi-functional keypad like the HDL DLP will come in under £1000 including additional sensors for floor/outdoor/ceiling temperatures.

For the design and planning of the Smart Home system, £750 is a realistic fee for easy to follow wiring diagrams and consultation time.

Your electrician will quote for the 1st fix wiring and may even undertake the 2nd fix installation of the heating and lighting system. Budget for wiring accessories like faceplates and inserts, wiring panels and enclosures for the equipment, pencil in £4-600 for this.

Installing a multi-room audio system like Sonos or Heos, with wiring ready to go may be less that £100 per room.

 An HD CCTV camera is quite a simple install with the cables all ready, so again £100 per camera is a good guide price for installation and setup of one camera.

Programming the lighting and heating system with setup of the multi-functional keypads will be the bulk of the labour costs from your Smart Home installer. Look for estimates around £1500 for the programming and be respectful that some of this work is done offsite to keep time on site to a minimum to get you into your home on schedule.

Other tasks to consider will be the installation of your aerial/satellite dish and wall mounting of TV's.

If I add these numbers up I get a figure under £11,000 assuming you have a couple of audio zones and CCTV cameras. A figure like this brings it in line with other major spends that are part of your renovation or self build budget planning.

4kW Solar PV £6,000

Roofing £12,000

Air Source Heat Pump and Underfloor Heating £8,000

Kitchen £10,000

Smart Home control system, future ready wiring, CCTV and Audio/Visual £11,000

Bathrooms £6,000

Windows £12,000

A Smart Home should be incorporated into your budget at the early stages of your project, build a home that is built for the future and make it a home that is under complete control providing energy savings and a huge WOW factor.

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