WHAT SEPARATES THE MEN FROM THE BOYS in the world of custom audio-video installation is more than just a top-notch audio-video system and sublime integration. It’s the little details on which the trades must collaborate in order to take the project to that next level. HomeWaves in Cumming, Ga., takes a unique approach, combining parts of the four trades into its business model, but remaining flexible enough to handle any project, from that fiercely principled architect to the most tenacious interior designer.

Building Mutually Beneficial Relationships

Because HomeWaves focuses on “the art of electronic architecture” as Adam Weart, manager of design and engineering, calls it, the company does a good portion of the design work on its projects—oftentimes obviating the need for an interior designer, as was the case on the project shown here.

HomeWaves also handles multiple aspects of the building process, including both high and low voltage. A lighting department handles lighting design, lighting contol, dimming systems, decorative lighting and even architectural lighting.

“From the beginning of the process, we focus on design, entering into a design contract, just like an architect would do with plans,” says Weart. “We focus on how the client is going to use the space, what time they come home, and so on . . . During this phase we have a lot of interaction with architects, builders and, sometimes, interior designers.”

Occasionally, however, these other trades aren’t all grins when HomeWaves enters into the picture. “Some builders are adverse to what we do,” says Weart. “They want to use their own electricians to run Cat 5, etc. Of course, electricians that are not well-versed in the audio-video discipline may not have the foresight to put in touchpanels. These builders are accustomed to habit and can be set in their ways. Many of them have never seen the type of intricate drawings of lighting or prewiring that we produce. In fact, in some cases, after they see our level of detail, they ask us to participate in future projects.”

In collaborative cases like these, all the trades’ bottom line is enhanced in some way, depending on the relationship. For example, if a builder brings in HomeWaves, they give the builder a percentage of the profits or HomeWaves builds in the builder’s profit and cuts its own share back. If a builder refers HomeWaves, the company saves money and time because they have been in on the design from the beginning and don’t have to participate in costly and time-consuming retrofits.

Likewise, when interior designers are involved, they often benefit from their relationship with Homewaves. After HomeWaves works with interior designers and approves of their level of execution, they’ll refer those interior designers on future projects, and vice versa. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” says Weart.

Excellence in Execution

Corroborating the homes’—and HomeWaves’—technical chops, CEDIA has given the company the 2007 Electronic Lifestyles Level IV Bronze Award for Technical Design for this project.

The goal was to achieve a completely integrated space including audio and video switching in multiple rooms, HVAC control, security, lighting control, electrical and distributed audio, not to mention a high-end, high-style home theater.

Attaining this goal was an exercise in collaboration between HomeWaves and the builder. HomeWaves presented several three-dimensional renderings detailing different themes to the client. The theme that stuck out and appealed to the client called for a star field in the ceiling. HomeWaves did the full design of the theater and stage, ceiling, screen wall and proscenium.

“We had to work hand in hand with the builder to pull that off,” says Weart. “We constructed it and installed the fiber-optic ceiling, but the builder had to do the framing work. We made sure he had everything he needed to get the job done right.” Weart supplied the builder with an extensive, detailed set of CAD drawings for the fiber optic ceiling.

“We had to shorten the length on the fiber optics so we had illuminators directly above the starfield, and they also had to be accessible, this meant dropping the entire ceiling down, which put the builder’s skills to the test.” HomeWaves integrated the star field into the Vantage lighting control system so the client can control the star field through AMX touch screens. Also with the help of the builder, a projector is installed in a soffit built into the back of the room, which is trimmed out with high-end wood to blend in with the décor.

The domed ceiling in the theater is mimicked elsewhere in the home. “There are a lot of elliptical dome ceilings in the home,” says Weart. “To illuminate them for a dramatic effect, we used Xenon uplighting, and you need a good inch and a half behind the crown to pull that off, which requires help, again, from the builder.” On the far side of the theater, a mechanical closet was drawn into the plans that was simply not needed. Weart and his team instead designed a bottom cabinet in the room for shelving and used the wall space for movie posters. HomeWaves handled the interior design of the theater, working directly with the builder to install acoustic paneling in the walls, lay out the room and install the Berkline chairs.

In the bar and pool table area on the terrace level, the plasma was to be recessed into the wall. To fabricate this custom install, proper dimensions of the plasma and the mount had to be carefully integrated into the design process.

“Typically in a home of this magnitude, we like to recess the plasma into the wall so the mount and wiring are hidden in wall,” says Weart. To accomplish this, again, HomeWaves needed the help of the builder. Weart gave the builder the dimensions he needed, which is really important due to the sheetrock construction. “We needed an extra 3-4 inches of space to account for sheetrock on all sides,” says Weart. HomeWaves used a Peerless SF640P super-thin mount, which required less intrusion into the wall cavity to mount the plasmas. In the living room, the plasma is mounted above the fireplace. In this case, the plasma would have been mounted too high to get the proper viewing angle when seated in the room, so HomeWaves used a Peerless ST660P universal tilt wall mount, which provides the proper viewing angle for optimal picture quality.

HomeWaves had minimal contact with the architect on the particular project. “The interior designer and builder are the main players we see,” says Weart. And the collaboration between builder and AV installer paid off in this home, not just in a superb whole-home integration and home theater, but with industry recognition, as well as happy clients—the most important factor of all. CR