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10 Things To Ask Your Home Theater Installer

by Marc Howley
(Rochester, Michigan)

Home Theater Installation Issues

Any contractor you hire - matter how large or small the job - should be insured and certified. If they are not, and their installation crew is injured on your property during construction, you could be held liable. Getting the legal issues cleared before inviting a home theater company into your home is critical.

As you embark on the process of evaluating the right company for your new home theater, consider asking the following questions during your evaluation process:

1. Are you bonded and insured? Ask to see copies or proof of insurance and bonding. Check the dates; call the insurance or bonding company to verify their coverage is in effect. A bond is very useful to the homeowner in two ways, first it protects the homeowner against theft by the contractor and their employees, and second, it covers the homeowner in the event the contractor does not finish the job.

A bond will cover any loss due to theft and any cost associated with an incomplete project, most reputable home theater companies will be bonded. Ask the home theater company for a copy of their liability insurance policy to cover you and the installer if something should go wrong. A minimum $1,000,000 policy is typically best for everyone involved.

2. Sometimes we hear horror stories about installers who go AWOL and leave jobs unfinished, systems that never work, and equipment that doesn't perform as expected. If you hire the wrong person and become the subject of one of these stories, it will be too late to start from scratch. This is why you need to drill down and find out more about each installer you interview.

Take the time to make the best hiring decision you can. It will pay off. How long have they been in business in your area? Any complaints with the Better Business Bureau? Although it shouldn't be a final determining factor, websites are so inexpensive and so prevalent, that the lack of one may be an indication of the company's level of commitment. It doesn't take a lot to keep a nice website that tells the company's story.

3. Presuming you've found one or several custom home theater installers, the next challenge you will face is how to know if they can fulfill your particular requirements. The answer is to examine the evidence. Ask for examples that demonstrate areas of specialization that are particular to your project. How would they handle pulling wire through a wall that has a pricey finish, rare wood paneling, or a frescoed mural?

Correct answer: We have a lot of experience in heritage environments and respect the architecture and design. In fact, here's a photo of a complex installation we just completed. Here are some examples of finished home theater systems.

4. How long will it take and what access will you need? Big installations can take days or weeks. That might mean access to attics, basements, other areas of the house, or the entire house. Find out if someone needs to be there during the installation and for how long.

5. What will the installer need from you? This could be a deposit, a house key, or access to your interior designer and trim carpenter if you are using your own. Find out what they need and why.

6. Find out how an installer works. If you have a several room installation and your home theater installer is an early bird and is at your home by 7am and you typically wake up at 9am, it's going to be a tough couple of mornings.

7. Ask for a link to the home theater company's website or for some images of recently completed projects. Occasionally, home theater companies will keep a showroom to provide you with living examples of their workmanship. A home theater showroom can sometimes result in increased overhead and charges to you, which is why it is always good to get a price range upfront. Today, most professional home theater installers are collecting images of completed projects anyway.

8. Ask for references on finished projects which are similar to what you have in mind for your home theater project. This is a great data point and should be used in connection with speaking to with at least one customer with a similar installation project.

9. Before beginning the work that both of you agreed upon, the home theater company should provide you with a complete signed contract that details pricing, equipment specifications, including connecting cables, deliverable dates if your project runs in phases and a payment structure. Final payment should always occur upon completion of the project.

Get it all in writing, especially any specials, free offers or other non-standard deals. If the project runs long are they coming to you for more money? Is there a return policy?

10. We've all been in situations where we were grateful for or knew we should pay attention to our gut reaction. Selecting a custom installer is no different. Impulse reaction is no guarantee that you're making the right decision. But your comfort level is important.

If you feel you can communicate effectively and your installer is eagerly listening and responding, this may trump a boatload of credibility. If you get a weird feeling because your interviewee is too fabulous, run away. If you don't get direct answers to direct questions, run away fast.

Article date: September 7, 2010

Article submitted by Marc Howley from Michigan Home Theater is based out of Oakland County, MI and is the area's most popular audio/video specialty retailer.

The company is a family owned and operated business offering top quality name proven products and a six month full labor guarantee on all custom home theater installation services. They offer home theater design services, professional sales, and custom installation and have been in business since 2001.

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