Is Your Contractor Doing You a Disservice?

Though 60% of new homes will have some sort of structured wiring, there are still many contractors who do not and will not embrace the benefits of providing structured wiring.

By Brian Lawrence

DIGITAL Home Solutions
Nov. 2005

In today's world, technology is everywhere. It seems like everyday there's a new gadget or TV format coming out. We enjoy these things and use them as part of our daily lives. But what happens when you have a new house built and you can't use these products? Structured wiring provides us with the ability to use current and future technology in our homes. Though 60% of new homes will have some sort of structured wiring, there are still many contractors who do not and will not embrace the benefits of providing structured wiring.

Structured wiring is the infrastructure we use to distribute telephone, data, audio, video, security, etc. throughout the home. You might say, 'Why do I need this?' Structured wiring offers many benefits, such as:

Distributed Audio/Video - watch or listen to your favorite music or shows in every room in the house. Watch the TV in the living room; listen to music in the kitchen, while the kids watch cartoons in the playroom. Just flip the channel and now you can watch them from the kitchen or anywhere in the house. There are many possibilities!
Home Networking - Ensure your computer and broadband internet access are readily available. Know you will get the fastest speeds and reliability for your home network. Wireless is available, but cannot compete with hard wired.
Video Monitoring - keep an eye on the baby or see who is at the door simply by turning on any TV in the home.
Security - Protect your family and home with a home security system. Not only will you get peace of mind, but you could receive up to 20% off your home insurance. New legislature may provide for tax breaks to homeowners who have a new security system installed.
Maximum signal flow - only with a structured wired system can you get consistent maximum signal flow. In other words the best picture, sound, etc.
Easy upgradeability for new technology - With having a central location for all of your cabling and having the right quantity and type of cables, you can be assured adding on or upgrading products will be a snap.
Increased Home Value - More homebuyers are demanding their new home has structured wiring. Reports indicate your home value could increase 5%. That means your investment could pay for itself and then some.

The connected home is coming to be a standard for new home construction. But let's not forget those of us who want these advantages in our current home. Fear not! There are many ways to install structured wiring into existing homes without ripping open the walls. There are many tools used to install cabling behind walls, ceilings, and floors. Retro -fitting a home does take a bit of a knack and can cost up to twice as much as new construction. This brings us back to our point. Contractors must soon realize the disservice they are doing to homebuyers. By not having structured wiring installed or offering it to the homebuyers, they are essentially taking away your technology freedom and putting you in a situation to pay twice as much to have it done later. Don't buy a house that isn't going to meet your needs. You wouldn't buy a house without a bathroom would you?

The CDA, Copper Development Association, developed a grading system for contractors. How does your contractor fair?
A = Excellent
This builder exceeds expectations. Category 5e structured wiring for telephone and data, combined with RG -6 coaxial cable for two -way video signals, is available at two locations in virtually every room in the home. A central distribution device (CDD) provides connectivity with the outside world and between rooms and simplifies network management. Wiring uses a star configuration, meaning that each outlet is wired directly back to the CDD. This home might also have a sophisticated home entertainment center. It may also be wired for whole -house audio with speaker wires to key listening areas in the home.
B = Good
Category 5e and RG -6 star wiring with at least one communications outlet in key rooms, including bedrooms. Additional wiring has been installed behind walls for future use, although outlets must be installed as needed by the homeowner.
C = Average
Category 5e and RG -6 wiring and communications outlets are provided in two or three key rooms, also using a star configuration. This wiring is fairly typical of what is promoted as structured wiring in new homes today. The homeowner may find it limited in terms of entertainment features or for sending broadband to children's bedrooms and adding home automation and security cameras
D = Minimal standard
Barely meets FCC requirements for wiring, mainly for telephone lines in the house. You may want to look elsewhere for your dream house.
F = Failure
Does not meet the minimum FCC standard. Even if the builder uses the right wires, check out the configuration. Daisy chaining, or wiring sequentially from outlet to outlet, does not get a passing grade. This home is a technological lemon! Don't buy it.

Along with the grading system for contractors, you may also want to check out the Tech Home Rating System. The Tech home rating was introduced by the CEA, Consumer Electronics Association. You can visit the CEA website to download a copy of the form here or go to for more information.

Technology is certainly becoming more prominent in our lives. We should not allow contractors to dictate what technology we use and where we use it. Demand your contractor install these benefits in your home. Call a local structured wiring installer today and ensure your continued enjoyment of technology for years to come.

For more information please visit DIGITAL Home Solutions

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