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Random Thoughts (Blog)

Custom versus Production

Posted on May 27, 2014 at 10:45 AM

We so frequently work with custom builders on custom projects where things like, “I need that wall reframed for my center channel” or, “We’re gonna need to have the electrician do this for us” are just standard operating procedure that we may lose sight of the experience that non-custom purchasers typically experience when they buy a “mass built” home from a production builder and want it outfitted with some audio/video system.


In the past I worked with one client who wanted music around her new home. We sat down and went over her floorplan and came up with a system that met her needs and budget. She even gave us a deposit on the work and we were all set to proceed with our pre-wire, when the builder informed us in no uncertain terms that we were forbidden from setting foot on the jobsite. Despite the fact that the client had signed a contract on the home, that the house was in fact being built for her, it wasn’t actually her home until the final payment had been made and the closing papers signed, and no other trades were allowed to work on the jobsite. Thank you, and good day.


Even worse? This builder didn’t offer any kind of solution for the client. Instead of just, “No, you can’t have them do it, but we can do it for you,” they offered nothing in the way of an audio system. The only solution was to wait until the home was finished, and then they could go crazy installing whatever they wanted. But because this was a multi-story home, there would be no way to go in and run the wiring after the fact. Essentially, the client was screwed and forced to miss out on something that could have easily been built into her new house. (This was before wireless solutions like Sonos, so feel free to spare me the comments about that.)


Recently we worked with another client whose home was under construction and paid his builder to have his home “wired for surround sound.” When he came into our store and asked what kind of a system we could install for him, I started asking him what I thought were some pretty basic questions about the wiring. As in, what did “wired for surround sound” actually mean? He assumed I would know, after all, I was the expert, so I should tell him what it meant.


“Well, first off, what type of wire are they pulling?” I asked.


 “They said it was everything that I would need,” he answered.


“Umm, OK. And where are they pulling it to?” I queried.


“They said they are pulling it where it needs to go!” he said, getting agitated.


“O…K… So, what kind of front speakers do you need? In-wall? In-ceiling? On-wall? Bookshelf? Floorstanding? Where they pull the wire is going to determine that…”


I explained that “wired for surround sound” was about as vague as saying, “I bought a car.” What kind of car is it? How many seats does it have? Is it a compact or a convertible? Two door or four door? Is it a Toyota or a Tesla?


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Categories: May 2014, CTA, Rants

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