One of the key issues facing home technology professionals? Working with architects, builders, designers and the like on the jobsite – and ensuring that your needs on the jobsite are accounted for (hopefully at the earliest stages of a project).

On a recent ride-along with one of the Midwest’s biggest integration firms – TriPhase – CEDIA learned that when everyone gets involved in project management, trouble can start quickly. Don Wolfe, GM of TriPhase, became concerned after visiting an outdoor installation last summer.

David Siroty

A pool’s going into a nearby backyard, and the yet-to-be built pergola off the rear of an existing home will need audio and video. Wolfe’s a bit perplexed: it seems that both electrical lines and downspout construction might interfere with the lines he’s got to pull. That’s when I realize that even the GM will need to be hands-on. “I check these jobsites regularly — that way we can be proactive, not reactive. If I show up and something needs to be done and my guys are all elsewhere, we can do it.”

The Problem

In a perfect world, that’s the solution: stop by the jobsite, offer advice, and everything’s rainbows and unicorns. But architect Luis Jauregui, writing for in June 2014, noted that more often than not, everyone wants to be the projects’ lead. Given his profession, Jauregui’s solution is unsurprising:

Don Wolfe

“As an architect, I can unequivocally say that the right answer to this conundrum is for the architect to be the first hired by the client, orchestrate the team, and control the project. Unfortunately, the custom residential architectural industry has largely been displaced from its former leadership role and relegated to providing builders sets of construction drawings.”

Jauregui’s a realist, though:

“The residential building industry, on the other hand, is well equipped to orchestrate the entire custom residential team, yet even builders often leave essential components such as home technology, landscaping, and pool work to others. It’s often the interior designer who steps into more of a leadership role and represents the clients. The worst-case scenario is when the clients become the project manager, and it’s every man for himself in the battle to finish the house.”

The Solutions

One way to help get an integrator in on the “ground floor” – or more accurately, while designing the ground floor? CEDIA’s Outreach Instructor program, which enables trained members to teach courses on a variety of topics specific to the home technology field. This builds a great bank of referrals over time, but also educates other disciplines about the need for pre-planning home tech. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if one’s got a background in another related field. As recently noted:

For David Devanna (who’s with iTEC Consultants based in New Jersey) teaching the course that focuses on sound isolation is a fave: “My background is in architecture. Many years ago, I had a friend who was a drummer. One of my first challenges: soundproofing his basement.

“I have people come up to me after a session and say, ‘Wow, you really speak the language.’ I’ll do a lunch-and-learn and I’ll see all the heads in the room nodding.”

But there’s yet another industry that integrators should think about partnering with: realtors. In a story CEDIA posted this past September, David Siroty, a VP with Coldwell Banker, gave us the numbers:

“Our latest research indicates that 71 percent of Americans want a move-in ready home — what was shocking was that of those, 44 percent believe ‘smart home ready’ is part of that equation.” In short, the tech doesn’t just make the home more livable – it makes it more sellable.

Siroty and several other folks in a variety of disciplines took part in a panel discussion at CEDIA 23016 in Dallas to expand on these topics, and the YouTube video’s worth an hour of your time – it’s on CEDIA’s channel, titled “Building for the Future.”

But when it comes down to truly working and playing well with others, we’ll let architect Luis Jauregui have the last word:

“It is in all of our best interests to learn to work as a cohesive team. Working with custom residential architects, I’m striving to elevate the practice to where architects once again orchestrate the team. This requires us to become knowledgeable of all the disciplines and requirements, including that of home technology.” l