14 Nov DIY or Hire a Contractor?
If you’re handy with tools, have the spare time, and possess a basic knowledge of electronics, consider the possibility of doing some or all the work necessary to create your media room. The internet is full of DIY sites like the DIY Network & HGTV that provide top to bottom instructions for the design, construction, and furnishing of home theaters and media rooms.
But most people prefer to use a specialty contractor to design and build their new spaces. A home conversion project can take weeks. Also connecting and coordinating the operation of multiple devices is complicated, especially if equipment is being added or upgraded. Many homeowners begin such projects only to find they’re in over their heads.
When you choose to use a contractor for some or all the work, you should:
Define Your Expectations & Budget
The cost of a media room varies significantly depending on its size, furnishings, and capabilities.
Call Multiple Contractors
Be sure you check references and, if possible, visit some of the homes where they’ve completed installations. If this isn’t possible, ask for photographs of some of their finished projects.
Get their estimates in writing and be sure you understand what tasks or equipment are included in the estimate and what would be considered add-ons.
Insist on a Site Survey
This survey should identify room measurements, the locations of electrical outlets, and any special conditions that might complicate the installation.
Make Sure Things are Documented in the Proposal
Documentation should include a full description of the electronic components, including manufacturer name, technical capabilities, and applicable warranties.
It should also include who will purchase the equipment (homeowner or contractor) and any additional markups.
Make a Payment Schedule
Don’t make a full payment for the project up front. While a deposit is likely to be required, insist on realistic milestones to be reached before making any additional payments.
Apart from equipment cost, a deposit or down payment should be no more than 20% of the total cost. Withhold 10% of the contract amount as the final payment until the work is completed as contracted.
Understand the Contract Before Signing
If you’re unsure of the language or your liabilities, have an attorney review it before you sign.
Learn How to Use Your Setup
There’s nothing worse than having a brand-new media room you don’t know to use. Before you make your final payment, make sure you’re familiar with how to operate your new equipment, including how to turn equipment on and off, change audio/video sources, and set sound levels.