Better Planning Can Improve Tech Installation on Builds

Rich Williams and Jeff Adams of Alliance Green Builders hope TecHomeX California can help improve collaboration between trades and create a better experience for clients.

Alliance Green Builders co-founders Jeff Adams and Rich Williams want to make it a priority to offer top tech options to their clients. They attended last year’s inaugural TecHomeX California, in addition to two TecHome Builder Summits, to learn how to best make that happen.

When initially embarking on their tech quest, they thought being able to include some interesting devices would be a nice feature. However, over the last two years their mindset has evolved, and they now are understanding just how vital it is not only to offer tech, but to do so in a way that it organically becomes a part of the building process.

Rich Williams (second from left) says he would love to see architects bring in integrators to talk tech with clients before designs are finalized.
Rich Williams (second from left) says he would love to see architects bring in integrators to talk tech with clients before designs are finalized.

However, that’s not a reality Adams and Williams get to experience. Instead of a seamless process that incorporates a buyer’s tech choices into a design, the builders too often find themselves retroactively making these decisions. It further complicates an already complex process.

“I think too often the current problem is we get the job to build a house that’s been designed by the architect, but how much smart tech to build into the house falls on us as the general instead of just having an integrator come in and explain things to the client and offer suggestions,” explains Adams.

“The more of us that are thinking about this, the better,” Williams adds. “If we had a plan page dedicated to technology in the home and describing the technology in the home in detail because the architect brought in an integrator and worked with the client to develop that scope of work, that would be absolutely fantastic.”

Adams describes a recent project he was finishing up and wanted to add an automatic sliding door. At that point of the build, though, he would have had to retrofit it in, but it wouldn’t work for that wall and there was no room to put the motor. So, the idea had to be scrapped.

With a plan in place for the door in the design stage, that problem could have been avoided. The pair hopes this year’s TecHomeX California will help them begin making strides in developing better collaboration with architects, designers, integrators and other contractors when it comes to tech.

“It’s great to work with clients on specifications,” Williams says. “If they want to change their tile, or change their kitchen countertops, that’s a wonderful part of what we do. But, if we’re getting into this deeply sophisticated aspect of integrating technology in the home, then having to educate the client during the building process is not the best way to do it. The best way to do it is to develop a plan and execute that plan, not generating that plan while executing that plan.”

Jeff Adams (second from left) and Williams (center) network during the 2017 TecHomeX California.
Jeff Adams (second from left) and Williams (center) network during the 2017 TecHomeX California.

Adams and Williams believe a good way to make sure clients are aware of and getting all the tech they want is to have them complete an interactive questionnaire early on that would clearly identify their needs and wants of tech in their home.

That also would give the clients a better understanding of the technology in their homes and allow them to take more ownership of that tech post-occupancy, which would help eliminate calls to electricians and integrators because they don’t understand how to use the devices.

The builders believe TecHomeX California can help play a role in that process, too. Adams and Williams say this event, as well as the TecHome Builder Summit, provides them with more information about the tech that is available to their clients. That knowledge can make the homebuilding and owning experience a better one for the buyer.

“What’s valuable about these events that we’ve gone to is it exposes us to things of what’s available,” says Adams. “It’s really important when building an expensive custom home that we don’t finish the home, then the homeowner sees their friends have something in their new home that we never told them about. I’m not trying to sell them on it, but let them what’s available. They may want to do it, but they may not know about it. So, it’s important to know what’s out there because the homeowners don’t necessarily know and we wouldn’t if we weren’t trying to learn about it.”