Hiring a consultant to automate my house

That sounds fun!

Almost no one needs any of this stuff. It is, for the majority of us, just a fun toy. So all of you like toys, and I like toys, too, and I was hoping to find someone to help me setup a toy that I can play with. And I’m willing to exchange money for fun.

That’s all :-).

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Maybe I can be of assistance. PM me

If you are looking mostly for control and you are using Apple devices you might want to just integrate your devices directly (as much as possible) with HomeKit. The Home app is pretty good for general control of devices. All the Lutron stuff has native integration. Some of your other devices might. For those that don’t they may be able to be integrated via a Homebridge instance (like Nest thermostats for example).

Also note that Caséta lighting is pretty well supported by Home Assistant. RadioRA 2 and Homeworks have some HA functionality but if you need support there are not many responses to threads here. You might check out Hubitat, which has very good Lutron support, but not very easy to get right dashboards. Some Hubitat users link to Home Assistant to get the best of both worlds.

My wife and I bought our current house in June, and did some pretty major remodeling. The entire top floor was leveled down to the exterior studs, and there were many interior walls and ceilings on the main floor and the basement that were both open to some degree.

At that time, home automation was not on my radar, but whole home audio was. I started by putting in-ceiling speakers in many rooms throughout the house, and pulling a ton of wire to the basement, where the receivers would be going.

Shortly after moving in, I realized my WiFi gear from the previous house was woefully not up to the task (last house was a 2400sf ranch, current house is a 4000sf colonial). A Ubiquiti Dream Machine Pro and 4 wifi 6 APs filled out the connectivity quite nicely.

After living in the house for a few months, it began becoming readily apparent that the location of some of the lightswitches (not to mention the appearance and even “do these work?”) and the wall outlets meant that they were ALL in need of replacement. Every last one of them. Over 100 lightswitches, and over 150 duplex receptacles.

Two coworkers were both “HA nerds”, as I called them, and were constantly bombarding me with whatever their most recent thing was.

In late October, I ordered an HA blue and a handful of lightswitches, just to see. Then came the task of rewiring some of the circuits (where possible) because there were no neutrals. Some I was able to do, some I was not (because doing them to code would involve ancillary efforts I was not willing to invest, and/or because I didn’t have the required equipment), so I’m still waiting for an electrician to make those changes for me.

I implemented those lightswitches, and I also figured out how to add the stereo receivers to HA since they were both WiFi (we had been previously controlling them using the manufacturer’s app on our phones).

Now, it’s mid-January, and I have over 50 smart lightswitches, the garage door opener is attached to HA, both stereo receivers, a plex server, a dedicated wall-mount management interface running on a tablet, some motion sensors, a couple smart lightbulbs, some smart outlets, and some door open/close sensors.

How is any of this relevant to your question?

We bought this place a pretty good bit below market value, because it needed a LOT of work. The previous owners had done nothing more than live in it (for 20 years!) - literally every single light fixture in the house that had more than one bulb in it - only 1 bulb worked. Dining room chandelier with 8 bulbs? Yep, 7 were burned out. Bedroom fixtures/ceiling fans with 2-5 bulbs? Yep, only 1 bulb worked in each. Same for the exterior lights, and the track lights in the sunroom, and on and on. Point is, they didn’t maintain the place - but where other potential buyers saw “Ugh, work!”, we saw the potential to grow equity - a lot of it, and quickly.

I didn’t go into the smart home thing for the ROI, or the increase in resale value, or anything of the sort. I did it because I’m a nerd, and it sounded interesting - and more importantly, it sounded economical. I mean, I already had to replace lightswitches anyway, so why not? The cost of the smart switches I used, on average, was $10 each more than the cost of the regular switches I used for the places I couldn’t put a smart one or didn’t need a smart switch (like the dumb end of a 3-way circuit, for example). All told, not including the home audio stuff or the Ubiquiti stuff, I probably have somewhere around $1000 into my HA setup at this point. So even if it’s not worth a thing, I don’t really care. We plan to live here for the next 5-6 years, then sell and buy our dream house in our dream location.

BUT - somewhere along the way, I read an article about the home market that was written by a realtor, and it said that “millenials, in particular, are very interested in home efficiency (re: reducing energy costs, like expensive windows, good insulation, etc), and smart home features.” In fact, this particular realtor said that before she would list a house, if the house didn’t have a smart thermostat, she would BUY ONE and have it installed, out of pocket - because smart thermostats gave the appearance of a smart, energy-efficient home. Now… Is that shady? Perhaps. I don’t know, that’s not what I’m here to discuss. The point I’m making (albeit somewhat long-windedly) is that got me to thinking "what is the value of a “smart home”, or “home automations”?

I started Googling. The answer to this question varies wildly. It depends on the age of the article you read, it depends on the part of the country (or the world) you live in, it depends on the neighborhood you live in, and it depends on what the houses in that neighborhood have.

So… If you are the ONLY house on the block that has a smart home, you have an advantage. If every house on the block BUT yours has smart-home tech? You’re at a disadvantage. You have to consider the neighbors and neighborhood, as real estate is very much a game of “keeping up with the Jonses” (or ideally, keeping ahead of them!). An extreme example: If you live in a trailer park, installing a $30k home theater isn’t going to make your trailer worth double the original value, but putting that same $30k home theater into a $500,000 house might make it worth $515,000.

Since we’re talking about the value of HAVING this stuff, we’ll focus on the first part of that, the part where you have the advantage. How big IS that advantage, really?

According to everything I’ve found online, the worst case scenario is that it doesn’t directly add any value, but it makes your house easier to sell, which means in a softer market (not today’s market, obviously), it will sell faster - and faster is better. Nobody wants to be stuck in limbo, waiting while their listing languishes on realtor.com for 6 months or more. Consider: A buyer has narrowed their selection to two houses in your neighborhood. Yours has smart home tech, the other does not.

So, that’s worst-case. What’s the best case scenario? Again, depending on articles, the absolute BEST case that I’ve seen claimed as much as a 35% increase in value. NOW - to be fair - not all of that is DIRECTLY a result of the “smart home tech” - but rather, it’s the fact that some of that tech is the high-end appliances you installed in the kitchen that just happen to have WiFi and HA integrations. You know the ones, that entire suite of wall ovens, fridge, freezer, rangetop, and dishwasher… That set that cost you $28,000. So… Yeah, a big part of that 35% is going to come from the value of the appliance itself, rather than being a DIRECT result of the fact that now they are “smart” - but how we got there isn’t necessarily the important part, just that we did, right? ROI is about the destination, not the journey since the buyers are the ones who dictate ROI and they are buying the house, not the story of how it came to be in the configuration it is when they but it.

Real world? I’ll let you know. My house remains a work in progress, and I’ve been getting it appraised at fairly regular intervals to gauge our progress as projects are completed, and also to pick the appraisers brain about which projects we should do next, and what he thinks the place might be worth after the next project. It’s AMAZING the information you can get from a professional appraiser when you’re just paying him directly, and there’s no bank involved. (when there’s a bank involved, even talking to the appraisers is a challenge, since you cannot be seen as trying to influence the appraisers opinions). But, my last appraisal was JUST before I began this smart home stuff, and I’ll be getting another one within the next 30-45 days. My smart home stuff won’t be completed by then (still need doorbells and cameras), but it is still a significant enough part of the house now - and especially with the control panel prominently displayed right next to the thermostat, it’s difficult to miss, that the next appraisal will certainly notice it and take it into consideration.

For a “fully functional, complete home-automation system”, the running average I’ve seen across everything I’ve read seems to be somewhere in the 11-15% increase in home value. Time will tell, I suppose - but I’m sure a LOT of that value has to do with how nice you can make your dashboards look. :wink:

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For professional installer systems (Creston, Savant, Loxone, all those) or even for mass consumer devices like Nest, Ring, Hue, etc that may be true. For DIY systems based on Home Assistant, realistically, it’s probably a 15% decrease in home value, unless you remove everything before selling. Because the first thing the new owners are going to do as soon as they see a Raspberry Pi or NUC or whatever is hiring an electrician to ‘remove all that weird nerd stuff’. And that’s going to cost money. Anything that doesn’t come with a professional service contract or that isn’t from a well known brand they can call up in case of problems is going to be a liability.

I can certainly understand that point of view, and there may or may not be a certain amount of truth to that. But the fact of the matter is that if you build your system with a bunch of rag-tag nonsense that looks like someone assembled it in their garage (RPis with no case, wires zip tied to plubmbing/hvac, ugly devices), then that’s the appearance that’s going to be presented, and the result is going to be as you described. The same could easily be said for a home network. However, if you have a proper relay rack, with patch panels, and cat6 pulls that are properly terminated with keystone jacks and wallplates, and a nice system that both provides and controls access that is installed so that it looks nice - it gives the appearance of a higher-end solution.

Is there some segment of the population that is educated enough to ask “what brand is all this smart home stuff?” Undoubtedly. The bigger portion of the population is simply more likely to be starry-eyed when they click the buttons and “stuff happens”.

That aside, the most important thing you said in your post is “the first thing the new owners are going to do”… THAT is the important part. The new owners - meaning they bought it, and it’s not my problem. I’m only worried what buyers think, NOT what “the new owners” think. As long as they were impressed when they were buyers, what happens when they transition from buyers to new owners is their responsibility, not mine.

Is that disingenuous or unethical of me? I don’t think so. I’m putting this stuff in my house because I like it, and it’s making my life easier and better. If the buyer thinks that makes the house worth more to them because I’ve made easy-to-use dashboards with useful automations, who am I to argue with them? If the buyer says “none of that is worth a nickel to me”, well I got my years of enjoyment from it, and for what little it cost me, I’m certainly not going to complain one bit about it.

I don’t have a plan for what happens when the time comes that I sell, but it will undoubtedly involve disabling ALL updates to HA and other assorted items that automatically update - that way at least it removes the possibility of updates breaking things. There will also be a three-ring binder full of documentation about the system, how it is assembled and what components were used where, as well as a box of replacement lightswitches, outlets, and anything else that matches the existing installed components in the house. I’ve already thought far enough ahead that I have extras of a lot of the stuff, for no other reason than if something breaks while I still own it, I don’t have some mismatched nonsense somewhere. Same reason I bought more tile than I needed for the new master bath, or more hardwood than I needed when that was installed, etc etc. The 7 Ps…

Until nothing happens, because HA just updated and broke everything. Who are they going to call then ? The realtor who sold them stuff that doesn’t work. Or worse, their lawyer. Who is he going to call ? You.

Be careful about possible legal caveats. Because you specifically sold them a ‘smart’ house and suddenly it won’t work anymore. They might be able to push liabilities down to you, because you are the ‘manufacturer’ of the smart system. Depends on local legislation.

Keep in mind that you can’t disable all updates on a stock HAOS install, unless you really go bare metal with HA core or container and that makes it even more unmanageable to maintain for Joe Average.

And that’s where the electrician and the ‘rip it all out’ order will engage :wink:

I mean I don’t want to discourage you from doing all this, by no means ! Just don’t count on it as a way to increase resale price. Expect problems when you sell it with that stuff included. Best course of action, if you want to resell on a relatively short timeframe, keep the option to remove everything and just keep the well known brand stuff. Put in a Ring cam, Nest thermostat, maybe some Hue lights with Hue bridge and call it smart.

You might want to double-check that with your realtor.

My understanding is that whatever you state is included in the home’s sale, it is expected to be functional unless stated otherwise. So if the purchaser is told the home is “automated” and then given examples of what it can do (i.e. various hard-wired light switches are remotely controllable and operate according to a schedule) that functionality is now an expected part of the sale. If they need new accounts to maintain functionality then that information should be included as a courtesy in order to ensure it operates as described.

A safer approach is to mention the home is automated but with no promise of functionality (in other words, it’s sold ‘as-is’ and left to the new homeowner to explore).

@HeyImAlex Who are they going to call? Literally, I do not care. Consider: You bought a house. 6 months later the furnace failed. You’re going to call the previous owner and throw a fit? LOL no, you’re going to replace the furnace.

Homes require maintenance. This fact should come as a shock to no one (well, apparently no one except the people I bought this place from). EVERYTHING needs maintenance. Paint the outside, mow the lawn, replace the roof every so many years, replace the windows every so many years, replace the furnace filter monthly, keep the AC condenser (or evaporator? The part on the outside of the house, I’m not an HVAC guy LOL) clean, pressurewash the deck (it’s composite), keep the water softener full of salt, have the chimney cleaned once a year, etc etc. My stance is simply that the “smart house” portion of the house requires maintenance as well. It’s not rocket surgery.

And yes, it’s pretty easy to disable updates. Especially when everything is on a segmented IoT VLAN that you can just firewall off from the internet. No internet, no updates. Pretty simple. New owner changed something and it broke? That’s not my problem - it worked when they bought it.

As for the rest of your legal concerns, I’m not sure where you live, but homes don’t come with warranties from the seller in the US. Sure, there are legal remedies for things like “failure to disclose”, and structural deficiencies, etc. But the argument you make about “being the manufacturer”, etc - there’s simply no standing, nor precedent, for it.

The way that your argument begins to make sense is if you hung out a shingle as a “smart home installer”, and started putting HA and various equipment into people’s houses, and charged them to do so - in fact, selling them a “smart house” solution. Absolutely you’d have some liability for systems you installed.

The fact that the buyers of a house chose to buy a house that has pre-existing smart-home tech in it? Yeah, no.

@123 Of course it will be functional when it’s sold. OMG, I would be CRAZY pissed if stuff worked when I looked at the house and then didn’t work at closing - not to mention that in THAT case, there may be legal problems. I agree, there are different approaches to wording the sale, and for that, a realtor would definitely be involved. But to be clear (I know some of my previous posts have been lengthy, so they may have fallen into the category of tl;dr), my house is not presently for sale, I have no interest in selling, and barring an offer for twice (or greater) what I paid for it last year, I won’t be selling it any time soon. LOL The discussion is purely academic, and my initial reply was in response to what the actual value of a smart home is. Nothing more.

When the time comes that I do sell, rest assured, this will all be accounted for - including transfer of management accounts and how to change passwords on said accounts. Or, if the realtor recommends instead leaving instructions on how to create their own new accounts and link them to the gear that has then been factory-reset and the smart home features are “included but require configuration”, then that will be that. If they recommend taking it all out and taking it with me to the next house - then that’s what’ll happen.

I suspect that by the time comes when I do sell the house, there will have been a sufficient number of smart homes sold nationwide that there exists better, more professional (and legal?) advice on how to transfer that ownership. But again - for now, I have no interest in transferring or selling anything, and I honestly don’t care if it adds one wooden nickel to my current valuation. I like it, I own it, I live here - so I’m doing it. If along the way it happens that “the realtors on the internet” were right, and it added 15% to the value of my house, then great. If they were wrong? Small investment for many years of enjoyment, and one I certainly will not regret.

Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not how it works with HA. If you cut HAOS or HA supervisor off the internet, it will cease to work after a while. Actually it will fail in a catastrophic way due to a DNS avalanche. See here. Long read. And if you keep it connected, then the supervisor will update without asking and without being able to stop it. The only way to avoid this is using a bare metal install.

Uhh, if I bought a smart home and paid a premium for it being smart and suddenly the smarts fail and I realize they’re all DIY without anyone I can contact for maintenance, sure as hell I’m going to press charges.

Uhm OK. :man_shrugging: Thankfully it’s rather unlikely I’ll ever buy a house from you :wink:

What I meant when I suggested you ‘check with your realtor’ was to get their insight into your opinion:

I agree that a furnace that fails a half year after the sale is bad luck for the new owner and not your responsibility (especially if the home inspection noted that the furnace was antiquated or appeared to be on its last legs). However, anything that was demonstrated prior to the sale and is inoperative the moment the new owners enter the home isn’t quite so cut and dried.

I recall receiving a hand-written page from the previous owner explaining the basics of arming/disarming the security system, who to call to re-establish alarm monitoring, and the rudiments of operating the irrigation system plus who to contact for servicing/winterizing/etc. Why? Because these systems were mentioned as integral features of the home. They wanted to ensure that I could use them on day one (and probably because they didn’t want to become “customer service” for these systems).


FWIW, I’ve chosen the ‘fail-safe’ approach to structuring my home automation system by employing the principle of “interconnected but autonomous” systems. If I turn off Home Assistant, each system can continue to function nominally (meaning they maintain their basic expected functionality):

  • lighting can still be operated manually via wall-switches (and all interior lights can be activated via a dedicated button without reliance on hubs,etc)
  • security system works normally
  • HVAC is driven by the thermostat according to its schedule

So if the HA system is disabled, the house isn’t crippled and only the “niceties” of home automation are lost; the basics continue to function.

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL Good luck with that.

Thanks for the info about the problem, though - I will give that a read.

Oh you know, luck wouldn’t be a factor in that equation, but thanks anyway :wink: Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with this, but it sounds like you have it all figured out, so best of luck to you too :wink:

This is exactly the way to do it.

Indeed - and my own system has thus-far been designed the same way. To reiterate, none of the decisions I am making are for the benefit of anyone other than me - but yeah, if the system blows up and it takes me a few days to put it back together, you’re absolutely right I still want to be able to turn my lights on and off manually, and open my garage door, et al.

Not sure where you’re located, but… The handwritten note about those items? A nicety, to be sure - but certainly not required - legally or otherwise (where I live) - regardless what that other guy seems to think he knows about real estate law. :wink:

The bit about “anything demonstrated prior to the sale and is inoperative the moment the new owners enter the home”… I do feel as though you and I have already covered that point, have we not?

Ok, lets discuss this differently: Provide information that supports your position. Some random guy on the internet screaming “I’m gonna sue! I’m gonna have you arrested”… Well, that’s, like… What… At LEAST 50% of all social media posts? LOL I have learned - the hard way - that what you THINK you should have legal recourse for, and what you actually DO have legal recourse for, are far more divergent than the average human thinks - and I’d bet you $1000USD that is, in point of fact, the case here.

:roll_eyes:

Dude, you do whatever you wanna do. Sell whatever smart home tech you wanna sell in your home. It’s really not my problem. Have a nice day.

I see. How very grown-up of you to shirk away from an actual discussion of the topic, you know, where you’d have to do more than rant and rave and threaten legal remedies that aren’t even available to you. Well done!

LOL

Thanks again for the reference to the DNS issue. Still reading about that - you’re right, it wasn’t a short thread.

Why people are so skeptical about this, if this will make him happy, then why not? You can install in your house, whatever you want, I would do the same if I liked it or felt that I needed it for security matters or something else. Now that the prices are so high, for me personally would be unreasonable to install such a system, but if we follow the signs of a potential market crash on timthomas. co, then it would be an option, because I would be able to afford it.

What an effing pointless discussion. The standard form contract that most realtors will inveigle people to sign is the starting point, and that will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction - note I said jurisdiction, not country. So in the US that’s 50 already. Several in Canada, several in Australia.

Here in NZ the standard contract says something like

  • the chattels and all plant and equipment included in the contract will be in reasonable working order but otherwise in the condition at the date of the contract, (fair wear and tear excepted) as at the possession date.

Work that out, it has made us lawyers a lot of money over the years.

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I have the same thing, but it’s for my wife. Because when she sells the house and I am gone, she will have something to give to the electrician to “rip it all out”.

We have something similar in most of the U.S. states where I have lived. Which is precisely why the IOT stuff will be removed before the sale. I doubt that one in 100 buyers have the technical expertise and desire to maintain a smart home.