We're delighted to have contributed to the Sunday Times Home supplement on home automation and smart homes where Charlotte Vowden reports on how home owners are potentially being outsmarted by their house.

The article tells us how a young man aged 23 bought a £15.95m home which was kitted out with over £350,000 worth of smart home solutions and yet he decided to replace them with switches for the lights and a remote for his TV. This is particularly interesting as it shows a young home owner wanting to simplify his regular every day actions over automated technology. But you know what? You can guarantee that another 23 year old would have loved using all of the gadgets.

The point is, everyone’s needs and lifestyles are different and the key as I reported, is that your lighting, AV and home automation solution should match your needs and desires, and improve your particular and very personal lifestyle. And not just be put in because you’re persuaded you need it.

We know that a lot of home owners feel pressurised by installers, estate agents, friends and others that home automation systems should be installed to control everything – your lights, heating, TV, curtains and even taps. Primarily because they can be. And worse, it often happens because of scaremongering along the lines of you must if you ever want to sell your house in the future.

I firmly believe that the key motivations for someone buying a property are location, accommodation, potential, and the magnetic force of design and sizzle factor, i.e. the décor, fittings, fixtures and styling can turn a maybe house purchase into “I’ve got to have this house whatever it takes” purchase. Never have I heard anyone saying they bought a house because of the home automation system.

So here is some constructive advice that we give our clients wanting to achieve an intelligent smart home.

Focus on infrastructure – this is the crucial part that will or won’t deliver your apps and services

  • Cabling for 4k and on demand content to ensure access and fast download.
  • Robust fixed line and WiFi networks – so that your connectivity is always on, no matter where you are in your home. So you can surf, get email and download content without disruption.
  • Wire for speakers in key rooms and surround sound in TV areas. You don’t have to put in speakers now but it gives you flexibility to put them in anytime in the future.
  • Lighting automation is going wireless so it’s no longer reliant on expensive cable runs. So consider WiFi alternatives.
  • Think about external security cameras and internal room sensors linked to alarms for improved security.
  • Prepare for smart fire, heat, flood & CO solutions – you’ll feel much better protected.

Next, think carefully about your personal lifestyle and which applications you would like to enhance it, e.g.:

  • Music in every room
  • TV and digital content in multiple rooms
  • Cinema room
  • Surround sound
  • Video door entry and how many internal points
  • Digital taps to always turn on at the perfect temperature
  • Security cameras
  • Electric blinds (highly beneficial and in some instances crucial in hard to reach places like roof lights)
  • And more…

Then you should explore what level of automation is right for you

Being able to turn your heating on across the whole house before you get home to a freezing cold house might be a top priority for those out at work all day or travelling a lot.

Turning on music in every room from a smart device will appeal to those who thrive on having music everywhere.

Being able to answer a door entry system on your phone in the garden is extremely helpful for those that do a lot of outdoor living.

Controlling your technology and smart features

Some smart home installations follow the route of controlling everything through a central automation system’s single remote. But we believe that specialist apps on your smart devices are a better way to go.

That way you aren’t reliant on one item for your entire home automation (in case it breaks!) and you have the flexibility to access all of your various apps on any smart device. It also means that you are using each specialist manufacturer’s control for each specialist application so you get the best control features for each one at your fingertips.

Understanding & using your smart home

The set up of your various apps and controls should be customised as much as possible to how you would like to use and control them. And ask if there are shortcuts for frequent use commands wherever possible. It’s imperative that you have an effective handover AND well presented manuals and training documentation so that you can do easy look ups if you forget any of your instructions. So make sure part of your installers quote includes this. When you feel confident, ensure that the entire household feels confident and get them trained – either by your installer or yourself if you’re comfortable.

We hope you enjoy reading the article in the Sunday Times.

And please check back soon for the latest updates on home technology including HiFi Audio reviews like this one.