Retrofit v New Build Smart Home

What is the difference?

When installing a home automation system, there are some challenges that your client could face depending on whether they are retrofitting their property or if their property is a new build.  Inspired Dwellings would like to point out these differences in order to provide you with some useful information to guide your client.

New Build/Refurb

With a new build or full refurbishment of an existing home, Inspired Dwellings are able to advise on the correct cabling and ideal locations for all of your client’s hardware.  This allows for all the home technology required, and enables future provisions should your client request it.  As with all services, it is a much simpler process to map out and install the wiring for the technology at the beginning of the project as there is easy access to connect the Data, TV points, and more.  Your client will even be able to request for the infrastructure to be built around certain features that they will want to include in their newly built or refurbished home.   

As a custom installation company, Inspired Dwellings collaborate with the architect from an early stage so that the space is built with technical knowledge in mind.  For example, we will make sure that speakers are ideally placed in the room, that unsightly equipment is hidden, and when ventilation for hardware is needed we communicate to the appropriate parties involved.  We will even advise on the best design features for that essential home cinema.

If your client has a limited budget to spend or doesn’t know the final specification they are looking for, Inspired Dwellings would usually recommend allowing for a great infrastructure.  That way, they will be future ready to create a smart home when they are ready.

Wiring for a retrofit or new build should begin in the location where the audio visual rack will be located.  Cables should be distributed throughout the home, within walls and floors to maintain the aesthetics of the property.


Inspired Dwellings have worked on many successful retrofit projects, and thus we know it is still an option for those who wish to transform their home into a modern smart home.  The main issue is wiring, which can be required to run through walls and ceilings, and can be costly due to the labour intensity required.  For example, your client could want a multi-room audio system with in-ceiling speakers installed.

The good news is that your walls do not necessarily need to be torn down.  Old buildings with solid brick walls can use wireless lighting switches, wireless speakers for the likes of Sonos, or power line solutions for home network systems.

The bad news is although wireless speakers and lighting switches may at first seem like the easier choice, wired products are more reliable as wireless performance can be interfered with, impacting operation.  While cabling isn’t completely immune to this, potential downtime is reduced.    

Further, if your client wants a multi-room HDTV system installed, retrofitting without cabling is almost impossible.  This is because HD distribution requires CAT6 and Coax cable; it begins in the central hub within the property, and runs through to the HDMI switch or Multi-Switch and in turn enables the television, DVD player, Sky box etc. to operate.  Wired cabling required for other uses such as the telephone line will also come into the central hub, as will the external cabling which is essential for cable TV and phone networks to function.


Wiring Tips from supplier Control4

- Relevant to retrofit as well as new build projects.

1. Consider a 10 year plan.

Inspired Dwellings try to educate our clients about the possibilities of future technological devices to help them think of any devices that they may want to install down the line.

2. Start with a floor plan & mark your wiring and outlets.

Inspired Dwellings collaborate with the client’s architect to gain access to floor plans which our design team use to produce design plans.  Our design team can work with the client to take into account their preferences for where certain devices should be installed/located and then mark wirings etc based on this.

3. Even if it isn’t needed today, run wires to any location where you think you might need it.

To avoid tearing down your walls at a later stage in order to re-run cabling, your client should re-think their 10 year plan.  Inspired Dwelling’s advise building a great infrastructure so your client is ready for what the future has in store.  Our design team can incorporate this into their design drawings.

With green standards tightening, the final point to consider is the outcome of the economic and carbon impact between a retrofit and new build, which should be evaluated at the beginning of any project.  Inspired Dwelling’s design and project management team have the expertise to offer the best guidance and deliver the perfect outcome to suit your client’s needs.

If your client is interested in creating a smart home please get in touch on 020 7736 6007.

Found this post useful? Share it with others

RSS Feed Atom Feed

« Previous Article Next Article »