Home technology - from Cat-5 wiring for offices to audio/video cabling for theater systems - adds a new layer of complexity to new home construction. And, increasingly, a huge knowledge gap is emerging.
Many builders are forced to rely solely on the expertise of their low-voltage trade partners without any backup of their own, says Helen Heneveld, a residential systems integrator based in Holland, Mich., who serves as a consultant to many home builders on technology and wiring matters. She is also a featured expert at many industry conferences, including CEDIA and tecHOMExpo.
"To builders, there is this realization that training is a necessary evil," says Heneveld. "They recognize the need to learn more about home systems, just to know if a job is being installed correctly."
They also recognize the need to know the right questions to ask when hiring tech-related contractors.
Heneveld recommends a full-day course on structured wiring as well as a full-day overview of integrated subsystems from one of several sources:
- tecHOMExpo is a trade show and conference run in conjunction with the International Builders' Show. Next year: Las Vegas. Visit www.techomexpo.com.
- CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association, offers frequent boot camps at its headquarters in Indianapolis throughout the year. Go to www.cedia.net for details.
- The Training Dept., a private firm, has specialized in residential technology installation training for more than a decade. It offers courses on six home-tech subjects in various locations around the country. For a 2003 schedule, go to