Tips for Hiring a Home Theater Professional
“Cameras, lights, action!” Building a state-of-the-art home theater is no longer a luxury reserved for Hollywood moguls. You can get a high-quality home theater system, professionally produced, that will enrich and enliven your nights for years to come for less than the price of an excellent used automobile – or the monthly payment of a new car lease.
The ten helpful suggestions shown in this article will assist you in creating a plan for your new home theater system, locating a competent installation at a reasonable cost, and enjoying years of trouble-free enjoyment from your investment.
1. Be Specific About Your Goals
It’s essential to take some time to plan out your home theater setup before getting started on any renovations. Spend time making a detailed list of the features and improvements you want in your home theater and the work you want a contractor to perform. Discuss use standards with your loved ones. A “fortress of solitude” could be anything like a private theater.
On the other hand, your loved ones could feel more at home in a media room that serves many purposes. You (and your loved ones) should consider the following before making a purchase:
o Will your “theater” area serve multiple entertainment functions, or will it be dedicated to one?
Do you plan on mainly watching dramas, comedies, sports, or other forms of entertainment?
o How impressed (or unimpressed) are you with high-quality sound systems?
o Do you host regular gatherings for “movie nights” or sporting events?
o Would you prefer the speakers to be visible or concealed?
o When it comes to interior design, how adaptable are you? If you wanted to improve the acoustics in a room, for instance, would you install dark-fabric walls and sound-deadening panels?
Is it more essential to repurpose items you already have or purchase new home theater furniture?
o Have you considered enhancing your project with luxuries like automated lighting, security alarms, landscape lighting, or a central vacuum system?
Finally, familiarize yourself with visual and aural technologies. You need not be an expert on acronyms like THX, Dolby HD, HDMI, DLP, etc., but you should know the basics, such as the differences between a front projector and a plasma or LCD flat panel display. You should explore your options by visiting resource websites like www.hometheatermag.com or www.electronichouse.com, but you shouldn’t get too attached to any one brand or piece of technology just yet. You will be better prepared for your meeting with an installation if you have a thorough understanding of the size and scope of the project as well as the costs associated with the necessary equipment.
If you take your time at the outset of a project to narrow your options, you are more likely to be pleased with the final product.
2. Determine the Location You Desire
Choosing a location for your home theater is an obvious first step. Some people, for instance, might like the idea of turning their cellar into a home theater. Some people have dedicated garages, while others have dens, spare bedrooms, or family rooms. In addition to hiring a home theater installer/integrator, you may also want to consult with a general contractor or electrician/plumber/tile setter about the house’s walls, flooring, and other infrastructure.
Third, limit your spending to a range rather than a fixed amount.
Establish a ballpark figure for your project’s budget, but don’t commit to it yet. Next, decide whether to use available funds or seek funding to complete the project. Most people who install a home theater do so with some form of financing, typically a home equity line of credit or financing plan, unless they purchase a very affordable system.
There is no “average” cost for a home theater, but the typical investment ranges from $10,000 to $35,000 for a front projection home theater room with high-end components and bespoke touches. These sums may sound excessive, but a monthly cinema trip may be had for as little as $10. It’s not uncommon for a night out to include supper, a movie, and a babysitter to cost $150, roughly the cost of a home cinema system when paid monthly.
It’s crucial to be adaptable with your spending plan to make room for one or two extra goods (or to make substitutions and cut costs). You need to know how much money you can spend now.
You Should Hire a Professional in Your Area
You may be an expert at setting up the remote, but you’re probably terrible at concealing the cables. Even if you’re handy with a hammer, you could be confused by all the home theater display technology options. Just chill out and get an expert.
“Integration,” the act of selecting and assembling components in advance, is essential for creating a first-rate home theater. The top installers have worked with many different systems and figured out how to make them function. Experts in home entertainment systems possess unique abilities, including those of a programmer, carpenter, audiovisual “geek,” and acoustic designer. The finest of them will add value by choosing in advance which systems will yield the best end result and the most satisfaction over time.
Consumers can use the dealer locators on manufacturer websites to identify an installer; however, these sites often only feature installers and resellers of that manufacturer’s products. www.allhometheaters.com is an online database listing nearly ALL home theater and home automation professionals in the United States and Canada, guaranteeing objectivity and options. You can use the site’s search function to look for projects in general and your specific area. The city and state of each number are also provided. Some upgraded ads include connections to relevant websites, discount coupons, and “samples” of completed projects. You may also use the site’s free CAD-style room layout software to make blueprints of your home theater that look as good as an expert-designed one.
5. The Job Interview
To make sure everyone is on the same page, it’s best to meet with several installers face-to-face (either at your location or theirs). Besides cost and competence, chemistry is also crucial.
You can learn a lot about the prospective employee from their responses to the following questions:
a. In what capacity have they been operating for so long?
Do you need a permit for your project? b.
c. Have they completed projects like this in your area before?
Is he or she available to carry out the specified duties? d.
What would they suggest changing the project’s “concept” if the money doubled? e. Halved?
What sort of assurances do they provide? f.
g. Do they fix malfunctioning devices?
h. What role do they play in warranty matters?
Inquire about whether the work can be completed in the allotted period and how long the company has been operating. Ensure you have copies of their licenses, bonds, and insurance policies for liability and workers’ comp.
Be sure to request and follow up on references from happy customers. For larger projects, it’s a good idea to interview happy clients to ensure they’re satisfied with the work. Make sure the prospective contractors are financially stable by checking their references with local banks, suppliers, and subcontractors, if possible.
Talk to the BBB and the state’s consumer protection agency to see if any complaints have been lodged against the contractor or their business.
Learn About “After-Sale” Support #6
Who will foot the bill if something goes wrong during professional installation is a question that often gets forgotten. This is a situation where the adage “the service doesn’t stop after the sale” rings true, but neither the buyer nor the seller wants to bring it up.
If your problems stem from improper installation, most technicians will make at least two free service calls. After that point, most installers will not visit your home unless you pay a service call fee. Although there may be an exception or two, questions should be raised before the work order is signed.
Discuss the most common issues with the home theater systems you are considering purchasing with the installer. While most solid-state electronics and speakers should perform without issue, occasionally, software problems can be found in custom-programmed control systems. The cables get jumbled up. Batteries eventually run out of juice. Images on plasmas can sometimes look scorched or have poor pixels. After a few thousand hours, the lamp in a projector will eventually burn out.
Before you commit to something, it’s essential to ask yourself the following questions:
o “Who will fix my system if it fails?” Who, exactly, is going to see me at my house?
Who will remove it from your home, pack it up, and send it back to the repair facility or manufacturer if you are unable to fix it?” What about shipping costs if that occurs?
o “Who returns to my home to reinstall the system after it has been fixed?”
Is there a written warranty for all of these services?
The main reason to ask these tough but essential questions at the outset is so you can gauge the installer’s character. Do they brush off your worries (a red flag), describe their hourly labor rate and warranty options (not as red flag-worthy), or bring up real-world problems and how they’ve dealt with them (a green flag)? (this is indeed encouraging news). Will they enthusiastically mention their written service guarantee (a fantastic indicator) or only offer you a 10% discount if you sign up right now (a red flag)?
No. 7: Document Everything
Get formal estimates from the installer based on the exact drawings and specifications after you have a clear image of what you want.
Once you’ve decided on an installer, get a contract drawn up. It’s essential to give careful consideration to your plans. The costs associated with add-ons and change orders might soon balloon. The final payment should not be issued until the job has been thoroughly inspected. The following are some essentials for the contract:
a) Your respective names, mailing addresses, and a detailed description of the tasks.
b) Specifics on the materials, such as brand, model, size, and color.
b) When do you anticipate starting and finishing?
d) The schedule and method of payment.
Don’t feel obligated to sign anything immediately. Don’t rush into anything; think things out carefully and consult with others. Any legitimately good offer will still be available the following day.
Do your homework before making any purchases online.
This is probably the most divisive recommendation. The internet is a fantastic tool for learning about available technological solutions. However, creating a quality home theater is not a “do-it-yourself” activity. If you don’t know that your installer will take responsibility for the installation, it’s best not to purchase online. Take caution. Most technicians won’t put in something they didn’t sell.
The estimates you get online should be pretty close to the real thing. You can use that data to bargain with an installation for a fair price BEFORE a contract is signed. But don’t ask your dealer to “price match” a lower offer after you’ve already settled on a price. When you want a pleasant, professional relationship with your installer so that you may get a great home entertainment system, this is the surest way to make enemies.
9 Taking the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) as a “Fair” Price
You will probably pay “retail” for the electronic equipment, speakers, and displays you purchase when working with a professional installer. Contrast this with the meager costs you see online. You are not stupid for paying “retail,” which is not bad. And here’s why.
As a first point, many premium manufacturers refuse to work with inexpensive or online retailers. If it’s available “online,” the maker probably cares more about volume than quality.
Second, the Internet prices you may find are usually entirely made up because most respected brands aren’t supplied via online sites. Your preferred brand is temporarily out of stock, but the store has a “great” deal on an alternative. This is a classic bait-and-switch, so don’t take the bait.
Third, suppose a manufacturer offers deep discounts and widespread distribution (especially for brands that can only be found online). In that case, it may indicate that they are more concerned with moving units than making a profit, which could mean they have fewer resources for after-sale support. Find a “great” deal on the internet. You may be disappointed to learn that replacement parts are expensive, customer support is difficult to obtain, and warranty conditions are unfavorable.
Finally, home theater systems are relatively complex to install, just like other large “appliances” in your home. About half of a project’s cost is accounted for by the price of the equipment; the other half comprises the cost of integration/installation and maintenance. Think about the cost of these add-ons while comparing offers. You can save money in the long run by purchasing from a full-service dealer rather than buying something online because they typically include all these extras in the price.
10 – Financing Options:
First, you should never pay in total upfront for installation services unless you are familiar with the contractor. It’s reasonable for some shops to request a 50% down payment before beginning construction or design. Don’t rush into making a large down payment.
Second, it is normal for an installation to request partial payment up front and the remaining balance to be paid over the month if the work is lengthy.
As a third step, you must wait to release the remaining balance until the project is deemed “complete.” Carefully analyze what you mean by “complete.” If the installer’s work conforms to the original quote and the project is finished, he or she should be compensated in full.
Finding the best home theater installer may seem like an overwhelming endeavor; however, with some investigation. With enough research and common judgment, you can build the theater of your dreams without breaking the bank.
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