Recently, the Today Show ran a story about smart home technology. The piece focused on options such as having the ability to enable your alarm system from anywhere, monitor in-home security cameras from your phone, turn lights on and off when you’re away, and more. Predictably, the reporter seemed to ooh and aah over the simple fact that this was possible. Not predictably, however, the family that got the system decided that it was really more than they needed, and had it disabled.
That got us thinking about how we wire our homes for technology. While we can install any of the above options in a home for you, there aren’t many people who ask for them. What we do understand, however, is the importance of wiring all of our homes in a way that makes them user-friendly the day you move in, and keeps them that way for as long as you live there.
That’s where Kenny Bowman comes in.
Kenny’s company Quality Communications of VA, Inc has been installing the low-voltage wiring in StyleCraft Homes for close to 6 years. But here’s the thing – his company has been working with IT departments of major companies in Richmond, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg to install networks and phone systems since 1991. They are a full service telecommunications company with manufacturer certified technicians.
You may ask why that’s so special, and that’s a fair question. The answer is that other homebuilders use wiring contractors who don’t have the same level of expertise. We could give you a simple bulleted list of what separates Quality Communications of VA from their competition, but to really understand why they help make StyleCraft Homes superior, we’re going to break out each item and let Kenny describe why it makes a difference.
Quality cable, quality jacks
“At some point, either at home or at work, you’ve probably seen a box of blue cable that IT networks run on. That’s called Cat 5 (Category 5) cable. There’s an enhanced version of Cat 5 called Cat 5e that allows for faster Ethernet speeds. StyleCraft Homes are all wired with Cat 5e. The jacks we install for access to that speed are built to run business networks, as well.”
“Unbelievably, there are no universal standards for contractors to adhere to when installing data networks in your home. But there is a standards organization called BICSI for technicians who work with information transport systems. Since our technicians work on businesses, as well as homes, we make sure their work adheres to the standards of this professional association.”
“When we actually install the wire in your home, we make sure that all of our cables are tied off in bundles so they’re not at risk of getting in the way of any contractors who may come along behind us. We also nail plate all of our wires, which is something no other low voltage wiring company does. So if you’re hanging pictures or shelves or something, you can’t put a nail or a screw through a wire because we’ve put that nail plate up.”
“If your data cable is too close to electrical lines, plumbing or heating elements inside the walls, then they could cause interference on your network. There are recommendations for how much distance should be between network wiring and all of these other things, and we always follow those guidelines.”
Testing and troubleshooting
“The day you move into your home should be a happy one. It shouldn’t be ruined when you go to set up your network. We test every cable we pull and we label each one where it starts at the junction box and where it ends at a jack in your wall. So you can trust that it all works the way it’s supposed to. Most home installers will just show up with a box of that Cat 5 and pull it through your house without even testing it. Actually, most of them don’t even know how to test it to begin with.”
“If your house has a crawlspace rather than a slab, we also install an inch and a half pipe that runs all the way up through a wall, into the attic. This allows us to come back at any point and add more wiring very easily. We can update systems without interrupting anything inside your home. Along these same lines, we pay attention to where major equipment like HVAC units will be installed after we’re gone so that those contractors won’t come into contact with your network.”
The StyleCraft difference
“Because we take the time to test our cables and make sure that everything works the way you expect it to, StyleCraft does something that no other builder we know of does; They pay us to come back out if a problem arises during construction. From stories we’ve heard around the industry, any other builder would just let a situation like that ride. But I’ve never gone back into a home after a StyleCraft buyer has moved in and heard them say one bad thing about the experience of working with them. I certainly don’t have anything bad to say after 6 years of working with them either.”
The service that Quality Communications of VA provides is only going to become more important within our homes. We’re proud of our relationship with Kenny and we know that it makes a difference in the quality of the homes we build. If you have any thoughts or questions, we’d love to start a conversation in the comments section about this topic.