Retro-fitting smart technology

Quintessential kiwi bungalow

Ray White talks to Automation Associates about seamlessly retrofitting the latest smart technology into older-style homes.


RW: What’s happening in the land of technology for people renovating their bungalow or villa?

AA:  A lot is going on at the moment, we are asked to price an automation or AV system about once a week by people renovating bungalows and villas.  The great news for owners of these types of buildings is that they are usually easy to work on as they commonly have some space under the floor, an attic to crawl around in or, in some cases, timber lined walls with no nogs that make cabling a breeze.  If the time has come to knock out the back wall, or pop the top then it’s a fantastic time to incorporate modern technology into your home.

RW: What exactly is a smart home?

AA: A smart home, depending on your budget, encompasses a combination of multi-room audio and visual, lighting control via apps, keypads or touch screens.  Structured cabling for phone and computer network flexibility, security (including alarms and cameras) and access control for remote vehicle and pedestrian gate release. For more details read this blog

RW: So a lot of people are retrofitting new tech into villas and bungalows?

AA: Yes, aside from when you’re building new, renovating is the next best time to carry out a retrofit as the cost is far lower.  For people renovating who may not be quite ready to complete their technology install we offer ‘prewire only’ options.  This means they can take advantage of getting the wiring into the wall while the gib is off, saving money and a lot of hassle and mess in the future.  Wireless technologies are readily available but are best used when wires are not possible as from experience systems like wireless audio and wireless security are just not as reliable as wired ones.

RW: How easy is it to do?

AA: If you have a space under the floor or in the ceiling it’s super easy, however all retrofits do have an element of the unknown.  We have carried out retro’s in 100 year old villas finding old clothes and newspapers stuffed into the walls – old school insulation!  Running into things like this can slow us down a little but they are breeze compared to modern buildings on concrete slabs, with a flat roof and no ceiling cavity.

RW: How much does it cost?

AA: The cost to retrofit home technology depends on how extensive your renovation is. The more gib that’s off, the faster we can work.  As a rule of thumb, people are spending 6-9% of the renovation budget on technology for the home.  A popular option with people on a tight budget is to prewire today, and add the hardware as your budget allows.  Call the friendly experts at Automation Associates for a ballpark estimate ph 09 377 3778 or visit for an instant online estimate.

RW: What are the most popular systems people are installing in their villas and bungalows?

AA: Music is number one, with security and front door release a close second.  After that comes HDTV / Netflix / Apple TV upgrades and surround sound is peaking again with the new Dolby Atmos surround system making a lot of waves for our movie watching clients.

RW: Why are people putting new technology into their homes?

AA: The reasons are as widely varied as the clients we look after.  People who travel a lot love the one button lock and leave which also triggers lights and blinds at appropriate times so the house appears to be occupied.  Families with teenagers like to keep them at home (and out of trouble) with high performance home theatre and gaming rooms.  For those who entertain a lot it is all about app control of music and lighting.  One of our client’s systems is programmed so that if the outside temperature drops below 12 degrees on any given evening the electric blankets will be turned on for an hour before bedtime.  What can be done is only limited by the client’s imagination. Read about more examples at

RW: Do people speak to you about concerns around aesthetics?

AA: We go to a lot of trouble to ensure the system looks as good as it works.  When a system is done right you just don’t see it.  Equipment is installed out of sight, and speakers are frameless and can be colour matched to your interior.  Touchscreens are all low profile, slim bezel these days and of course you can do it all from your smartphone or tablet as well leaving little or nothing to be seen on the walls.

RW: Any tips for people considering technology for their home?

AA: If you want it but can’t afford it right now, prewire for it.

Don’t rely solely on Wi-Fi to control everything.

Relying on the apps that come with the TV, home theatre receiver and Apple TV to provide control can be frustrating.  We strongly suggest either a single handheld remote or single app to control everything from one place rather than app juggling.

Choose a company that has the resources and the capacity to ensure your job runs smoothly.

Beware of the phrase “this is the latest…” – don’t be a test site for unproven technology.

Your AV Integrator Company should be a member of a professional trade association such as CEDIA or BICSI.  Ask for references and call those people!

Engage a “do it right the first time” company – It may not be the cheapest quote at the beginning but will likely save you a headache, and “unforeseen” costs in the end.

Relax and enjoy the process, a great home automation company will make the experience enjoyable from first meeting to a beer at the end when it’s all up and running.

Read more tips here


If you are thinking about renovating your bungalow or villa call our friendly experts on 3773778 and we’ll get you sorted.