One of the questions that always comes up when we meet with a potential smart home client is: How much does a fully integrated smart home cost, for everything?
Although this is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many factors to consider, we will try our best to explain some general pricing and best practice guidelines here.
An easy way to understand the way pricing works in smart home projects is to use the analogy of building a house. This is a convenient analogy because you are probably in the process of building your house right now so you will find it quite easy to relate to the procedure and the way pricing can change drastically depending on your ultimate goals.
As you know, if you are building an architecturally designed 4-bedroom+ house the build price can start at around 3 million, but then quickly jump up to 5 million+ when you start upgrading permanent features such as designer kitchens, specialty roofing, flooring, and luxury tiles etc. On top of this initial jump, you can easily spend another $500k on finishings and fixtures such as feature chandeliers, high-end faucets, and general décor. These jumps in pricing based on preferences also apply to smart homes systems. When you look at a basic system, the start price is around 30-50k, but this can quickly jump up to $100-$200k+ when you start adding lighting control, motorized blinds and climate control to all the rooms. On top of that, you can easily spend an extra $50-250k + on a cinema. Consider your landscaping and joinery costs, these are similar costs to what you can expect to spend on a professionally designed smart home.
When allocating budget in a smart home project we give the same advice to our clients that good architects, builders, and interior designers give theirs. Focus your budget on the more ‘permanent’ fixtures and aspects first because they are the most difficult and expensive to change later down the road. The last thing you want is to rip up that wooden floor in the kitchen because you always wanted polished concrete or to realize that you really needed underfloor heating in lounge. Likewise, if you think you need a bigger 4K TV or a better set of speakers all you have to do is buy new ones but when you get the permanent infrastructure wrong, i.e. The wiring, switcher or controller can’t support the highest current, resolution or speeds required; it can be costly to try upgrade that key component. Unaware of this, some people focus on finding the “cheapest” permanent infrastructure then try to layer expensive finished products such as 4K TV’s and high-end stereo equipment on top of it. This approach is penny wise but pound foolish, and sacrifices low-maintenance, quality, warranty, and aesthetics.
Cheaper systems almost always compromise on quality components and wiring and will inevitably lead to regret. This is what differentiates the DIY, Common Cowboy and ‘Done by the Electrician’ installations from Professionally Designed and Installed smart home systems. Professional companies will charge you for the time it takes, and level of design and engineering documentation that is required to get the more ‘permanent’ aspects of your system right, the first time. I cannot tell you the number of phone calls we get from homeowners who installed ‘cheaper’ permanent infrastructure or went with ‘cheaper’ installers who now urgently require us to fix their system. The bad news for them is, unfortunately, in most of those cases, we cannot easily fix the problem and the only option is to completely rip out the wiring in the walls and re-do the whole system. Remember, your system should be designed to achieve what you want today, but also what you may need in the future.
Insist on Detailed Design Documentation:
The company you decide on should provide you with full Architectural and Construction Specification with schematics and all relevant information pertaining to interiors, lighting, electrical, cabling, flooring and mechanical services. This is the only way to ensure there are no mistakes and allow for future serviceability. To do this properly will take time and expertise and therefore you should expect to pay between 3-10% of the total value of the smart home system for this service. To give you the most accurate Design Documentation the company you decide on should go through a lengthy discovery with you in person to identify what you are looking to achieve with your system. Do you want motorized blinds? lighting control? music throughout the home?
It is good to start with your dream design and worst-case budget and then scale back from there. Because every single client we work with has a different home and wants different levels of functionality it’s extremely difficult to estimate what each system will cost you. That being said, below is a rough estimate we have calculated based on the average dollar value our clients spend on the various subsystems.
Note: these estimates are based on architecturally designed houses that average 300sqm-1300sqm+. Click the headings below to learn more about these subsystems.
- For lighting control you will be looking at 10-100k+ depending on the size of the home and the number of rooms and areas you would like to control.
- This budget would include the control of any ceiling fans as they are controlled by the same modules.
- Due to the high-cost component of this subsystem clients often opt to wire for lighting control around the house but only have the functionality of lighting control in the main living areas and master bedroom.
- For motorized curtains and blinds around the house, you are looking at approximately 5-50k + depending on the size of the windows and doors and the number of shades you require to be controlled in the home.
- For air conditioning, underfloor heating and fireplace integration budget around 3-10k+. We would encourage that this form part of an energy management system.
- For 4 rooms with music, you are looking at around 5k all in.
- For every 6-8 rooms you add after this you are looking at 10-20k+ depending on speaker types, sizes, quality etc.
- For a small system distributed out to 4 TV locations, you are looking at 5-10k for each additional location budget 2k.
- Alarm: A small system 3-5k, medium system 5-15k, large system 15-25k+. This includes the alarm system, siren, reed switches and sensors. This cost changes according to the number of rooms,
doors and windows to be protected.
- CCTV: A small system 3-5k, medium system 5-15k, large system 15-25k+. This incudes cameras and a network video recorder. Depending on the number, type and quality of cameras.
- For keyless entry and digital locks on all main doors, you are looking at between $2-3k. Front door keyless entry: 1k-5k+ depending on intercom, camera, keypad, biometrics types, and quality.
Gate access control:
- budget 1-10k+ depending on intercom, camera, keypad, biometric, gate actuator arms types, and quality.
- Whole home central locking: 5-30k+ depending on the number of doors.
- This is probably one of the areas where the price can fluctuate the most and is often seen as its own project altogether. Our larger cinema projects have their own design team based in Auckland
and Sydney. Depending on the design you are looking for and level of sound isolation of the theater in question you can budget between 10-100k+. The sky is really the limit here…
- This is a core feature of any modern smart home. A mid-level monitoring and management system would be between 3-10k. Some of our clients require more comprehensive energy management.
Once you have decided on your design, the next step is to finalize who will be managing the communication between the smart home company + other parties (Architect, Lighting company, Builder, Painter, Electrician etc). Professional Integrators understand that you are busy and need someone to ‘take care of it’ so you can get back doing what you do best. This communication is essential to ensuring your project delivers on time and in budget with no mistakes.
The only way to achieve proper communication and streamlines processes is by paying for project management. Project management fees for the average size job are between 5-10% of the value of the smart home project (depending on the size and complexity of the job).
So, how much does a smart home really cost, for everything? The short answer is, it depends.
If you are serious about turning your smart home dreams into a reality and want to start working out costs, your next best step is to book a visit and coffee with our smart home team at our Auckland
Book your session here.
Only looking at your plans and discussing what you are wanting to achieve will give you a true reflection of what’s possible and the costs involved.
We look forward to meeting with you.
Real IT Smart Home Design Team