In a new series of blogs from Customised, we are spending time with self builders to learn more about their experiences with home technology and where it may figure in their incredible projects. First up is Chris Vick and his oak framed new build in Surrey with high eco credentials.
Kris Gamble (KG) - Can you tell us what type of build you are undertaking? I’ve enjoyed following the progress on Instagram.
Chris Vick (CV) - a near passive, SIP's and oak framed selfbuild and I definitely mean “self” build, it’ll be ninety percent built by me and my wife. The project is also being filmed by Channel 4 "Building the Dream" and we are documenting the build on Instagram @chrisvick01.
KG - What were the main reasons for your decision to install cabling in the home to distribute and control home technology services?
CV - Having worked in IT for thirty years, I have always been interested in technology. My previous house renovation in 2002 was flood wired with Cat5e and Coaxial cabling for light, sound and video so it was always going to follow in a similar direction on this build. However, the amount of foil backed insulation in today's homes and especially a passive house means we are creating a equivalent of a huge faraday cage which does not help for wireless signal transmission. We have therefore flood wired the house with over 7km of Cat6 for control of all main, activity and mood lighting, heating, blinds, video, audio, CCTV, environmental systems and even the baths and showers can be activated with voice control. This approach not only covers us for today but also for connected home solutions as we moved forward. Did you know that you can even get a baby's mobile that keeps them entertained above their cot with movement, light and a camera all powered by just a single Cat6 cable?!
KG - Which systems are you installing for services such as lighting and heating, home security and internet distribution?
CV - Lights, blinds, audio and irrigation uses a control and automation system called Legrand Vantage. The CCTV and access control uses Hikvision products. Our multi-Room audio speakers are Monitor Audio throughout. Crosswater controls are being used for all connected showers and baths. Voice control using Alexa and Siri plus the addition of the Apple Home app will give easy management of Philips Hue coloured lights. Our internet, wi-fi and network switches are from Ubiquiti. One unique technology feature are the Smart mirrors which are my own design utilising the adaptable Raspberry Pi.
KG - You have a VERY hands on approach with your self build, which resources have you found useful in researching and choosing the right home technology for your home?
CV - After using X10 in my previous home I have always been looking at what is next. Lots of research is crucial and by that I mean research other people using it and the professionals installing it, not the manufacturers of it. All manufacturers say their products are amazing but it’s the ease of integration and the outcome they provide that will define the experience you have. Social media can play a big part in your research as people are honest when something is great and especially honest when it is bad. I would consult with home technology companies who are willing to pass on advice or demonstrate home solutions for you that they have already successfully integrated in a home already.
KG - What would be one Self Build Home Tech Tip for anyone about to begin a new build project?
CV - Start thinking early about how you will consume technology not just the components that create it. You don't need a TV in every room. Create a space in the home for wellbeing, where you get lots of natural light. Think about the type of lighting you want not just the number of downlights. Choose LED bulbs which have good dimming performance. Cable, cable, cable if you can as it will make your home much more flexible to changes in technology. Then finally sit back and enjoy it all with some nice music, warm glow lighting, a book and a nice glass of something....
You can follow the progress of Chris’s self build at instagram.com/chrisvick01 and look out for the project on TV show Building the Dream.