Wish Lists and Budgets: Bridging the Gap

Whenever we make a site visit for a new project, the first thing we do is talk with the prospective client in order to put together a “wish list.” Simply put, the wish list is a compilation of all the features the client is interested in. For example:

Family Room Media System with:

  • Flat-panel TV mounted on the wall, on an articulating arm allowing the TV to pull out and swivel;
  • Surround sound system with in-ceiling speakers for minimal visual impact;
  • Sources include Cable TV, AM/FM radio, Blu-ray Disc player, CD player, iTunes music and streaming Netflix movies;
  • Single remote control, making the system easy to use while allowing control through walls and doors;
  • Equipment located out of view in remote location.

Whole-House Music System with speakers in these areas:

  • Kitchen
  • Living Room
  • Dining Room
  • Back Patio
  • Master Bedroom
  • Master Bathroom

Motorized Window Shades in:

  • Family room — glare/UV protection
  • Living room — privacy
  • Dining room — privacy
  • Master bedroom — blackout

Once we get an understanding of the wish list, our goal is to review options and various performancelevels for each system, so the client can determine what solutions are best for them.  As we nail down the scope of the project, we begin to consider which products are best suited for the application. We also estimate how much time it will take to wire and install the systems.  In this initial meeting we can narrow down the scope of the potential project and determine the budgets required to deliver the desired systems.In many cases we end up with a gap between what a client wants, and what they have budgeted for. In these cases, it’s always important to keep in mind the four factors that drive budgets, including:

  1. Features
  2. Performance level
  3. Aesthetics
  4. Control/ease of use

Any increase or decrease in budget can always be associated with increasing or decreasing one of these factors.

  1. Examples of eliminating Features to reduce costs:
  • Eliminate the mount that allows the TV to pull out and swivel.
  • Eliminate surround sound and do stereo sound (2 speakers instead of 5).
  • Eliminate CD player and play CDs in DVD player.
  • Eliminate outdoor speakers.
  • Use manual shades instead of motorized shades.
  1. Examples of lowering Performance to reduce costs:
  • Use lower quality TV
  • Use lower quality speakers and electronics.
  • Use lower quality shades with louder motors.
  1. Examples of sacrificing Aesthetics to reduce costs:
  • Remove the TV wall mount and set the TV on a cabinet.
  • Locate equipment in cabinet below TV.
  • Leave components in view so they can be controlled by traditional remote controls.
  • Reduce installation time by leaving wires exposed.
  • Install speakers in locations that are easy to wire vs. locations that are aesthetically pleasing.
  • Use paper type honeycomb window shades instead of fabric roller shades.
  1. Examples of sacrificing Control (ease of use) to reduce costs:
  • Use multiple remote controls instead of single universal remote control.
  • Use manual shades instead of motorized shades.
  • Control house music at central location instead of in each room.

While the above examples will be effective in reducing costs, they will also be effective in diminishing the desirability of the finished systems. Whether a client chooses to adjust the budget, or modify the wish list, our job is to make sure they understand the repercussions of the decisions they are making.  It is up to us to make sure that when the project is complete they do not find themselves saying “I wish I had…” or “If knew that, I would have…,” but are enthusiastically satisfied with their new system.

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