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How Automated Is Your Condo?

By May 19, 2008


Do your window coverings automatically adjust with the sun? Can you play the same song in every room at the same time? Does your plasma float on the wall?

For me, the answers to all those questions is sadly no. But that might change because recently I went for lunch with Rob Sinclair of HTI Technologies where he is director of multi dwelling unit sales.

Rob first gave me the pitch for HTI. They’re the ones doing the home automation packages for Lincoln Tower, 1521, the Vulcan projects, Olive 8, Brix, Equinox, Gallery and the list goes on. The number of folks that sign up at the more expensive projects apparently approaches close to 100% while the smaller projects understandably have fewer folks willing to shell out the extra money for something that most see as a top of the line luxury.

He then gave me the pitch for home automation. A pitch I’m familiar with because prior to Redfin I worked at Microsoft in the eHome division as a program manager on Windows Media Center; there I had access to lots of home technology and partied often at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.

Rob’s company will upsell you in five categories:

Home Theater: This is the most popular of the five packages and includes hanging a nice TV, surround sound and wiring for it all.

Shades: The second most popular option ranges from simple roller shades to a fully automated system where your window coverings rise and descend according to the sun’s position in the sky. Living in a south-west corner unit without air conditioning I so want this.

Distributed Audio: From a “simple” Sonos system to a top of the line Creston they can give you access to your music in any room of the house.

Lighting: One touch control of all your lights to creating scenes so that you can put your place in date mode with the touch of a button.

Security: The least popular option is a security system. Though apparently the better projects are installing security systems as a standard item for their first floor residents. Brix is one of those projects. Good for Brix. While I feel completely safe on Capitol Hill, if I was on the ground floor, I think this would be great peace of mind.

When I was buying at Trace I was un-impressed with the presentation from the home automation company they partnered with. Had I got the pitch from Rob it’s very likely I would have rolled some upgrades into my purchase. In fact I have been talking to him about an automated window covering solution though the price tag is an order of magnitude more than getting solar shades from The Shade Store. How much trouble is it to manually raise and lower 10 shades every day? :)

I’d be curious to know how many others have upgraded or considered upgrading their units with some sort of home automation solution. Was it worth it? One commentator is in the process of doing this at Brix and seemed happy:

We have some special media and technology needs and working with Home Technologies (subcontracted by Brix for media wiring etc.) has been a joy.

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