10 out of 10 for Howdoi.com
Ten units, 10 clients, 10 proposals, one address – this beachside installation resulted in a perfect 10 for Howdoi.com.
Often, one large project is more than enough for a boutique integrator, what with the challenges of documentation, liaising with clients and adhering to their demands.
Recently, the team at Howdoi.com were contracted to tackle 10 units in an 11-unit beachside development, each with stand-alone systems.
The Victorian specialist has extensive experience in the design and integration of the various systems commonly incorporated into today’s modern homes. It has been widely acknowledged by the industry and has received numerous awards in the residential and commercial arenas.
The company has also won numerous CEDIA installation awards, including Best Media Room and Best Commercial Installation in 2006, and Best Integrated Home Installation in 2007.
“Although this is a single project made up of 11 apartments, of which we were involved in 10, we had to treat it like 10 separate projects,” business development manager Keith Saunders says.
“There was no single building consultant for all apartments, so we had to deal with each apartment owner independently. That also meant having to draft 10 separate proposals.”
Each apartment had similar cabling structure as far as the telephone, intercom and gate station were concerned. The problem, Keith says, was that Howdoi.com joined the project well after it started.
“The project was quite late into the construction phase when we came on board.
“As such, we had to sit down and discuss our options with the three or four different builders that were on site, then discuss with the owners their budgets and expectations.
“The scope of the projects varied widely. Some owners opted for lighting control, others didn’t; some wanted quite elaborate security systems; others wanted systems that were a lot simpler.”
The sales process instilled at Howdoi.com is something quite close to the heart of founder and managing director Simon Zettl, who formed the company after being frustrated when he bought a smart-wired house only to find it wasn’t very smart at all.
Keith says documentation, design and project management are largely responsible for allowing the team to manage 10 concurrent installations.
“We have had to adopt quite a staggered approach to this project. All of the properties are being finished in different stages – one is yet to be cabled, another is about to be fitted-off, and three have been completed.”
In one unit – the first to be completed – the client was quite particular about wanting a simple system. He had seen complicated, multiple control systems at friends’ homes and did not want any complexity.
“The brief for this particular property was clear: seamless, simple operation with most technology hidden so as not to detract from the design of the property,” Simon says.
“The interior design of the home did create design limitations in regard to control interfaces, but we didn’t want to detract from the clean lines and large blank walls, which have since become a gallery for the client’s extensive art collection.
“So the challenge was to retain the clean lines while concealing as much of the AV equipment as possible and ensuring the technology did not detract from the sensational outlook of the property.”
Simon says these requirements were met by using the invisible Stealth Acoustics speakers, by installing in-ceiling projector lifts and a motorised screen in a Hideaway enclosure, and mounting all hardware in a central equipment rack in a concealed, custom-designed cupboard.
“Stealth Acoustics were chosen because they are totally invisible when correctly installed in the walls and ceilings,” he says.
“The use of these speakers allowed us to deliver a multi-zone AV solution with no visible markings on the walls.
“Although the installation of the Stealth speakers takes more time and planning than flush ceiling and wall-mounted units, the result is a superb-sounding system – with the added fun of trying to determine where the sound is coming from.”
The installation is based on the new XP8 RTI central control system, which allows numerous custom design touch screen remotes to provide finger-tip control of the audio-visual environment.
Simon says the client was so happy with the result he is considering rolling out the control system to some of his other properties.
“On the integration front, interfacing the client’s electronic grand piano (pianola) so it can play through the house-wide audio system, and showing multimedia on the display panels, posed a challenge due to late inclusion in the requirements – well after plastering had been completed.
“The flexibility of the design let us do this, allowing audio and video sources from the pianola to be available in all audio zones and on all LCD and plasma screens throughout the home.”
Overall, Howdoi.com has lived up to its reputation by producing not one but 10 modern, user-friendly installation designs that far exceeded its client’s expectations, as well as its own.