One of the questions I hear the most is, “What makes your products different from what I can buy online and install myself?”
Mass-market products for do-it-yourselfers offer features that draw even discerning customers in. A few years ago, if a customer wanted a TV that looked like a painting, they had to spend over $10,000 for a convincing solution. Today, a similar effect can be had for around $1,000 for a modestly sized screen. This type of innovation is great for customers, and I’m all for it as long as it works well and is right for the application.
For other categories of home technology—things that can’t be swapped out easily when new options emerge on the market—careful consideration must be taken when choosing between DIY options and custom-installed solutions. Things like smart lighting controls, automated water shutoff valves, whole-home audio systems and burglar alarms should not be designed using DIY products without thoroughly understanding all aspects of the home, the homeowner’s preferences, and the products’ limitations.
Here’s the rub: people who can afford large or custom homes are typically busy and have a low tolerance for researching and maintaining their own home technology. They want solutions that are genuinely useful over a long lifespan, rather than something that will produce a toy-like initial sense of fascination but reveal frustrating limitations over time. Many “smart home” products require a hobby-like level of attention if the homeowner wants these things to integrate together into a cohesive system.
Earlier this year, one popular DIY smart lighting company suddenly went out of business and shut down their servers. This forced customers to replace every affected light switch with a different product or live without crucial features. While that company was eventually rescued by a group of customer-investors, it was too late for many who bought a new system because they couldn’t wait to see what would happen.
Qualified home technology professionals can help builders and homeowners avoid common issues that come with mass-market products that aren’t right for the application. We can help homeowners and builders assess which features are actually needed, rather than throwing a proverbial kitchen sink full of apps and devices at the home. We can make home technology simple and efficient to use as a tool that makes homes feel more comfortable and look more beautiful.