Get a Grip: CEDIA Award winning Integrated Home

Another, multiple award winning and commended project at the technically judged 2021 CEDIA Awards – this project took home the following accolades:

  • Winner – Best Integrated Home Level 1 EMEA
  • Highly Commended – Best Documentation
  • Highly Commended – Best Dressed Rack

Working with SONA was a very easy and enjoyable experience. Their technical vision was apparent from the very first meeting we had with Simon and they have certainly delivered a very user friendly and reliable system for us.

The team were an absolute pleasure to have in the house and their commitment to delivering a solution and tenacity in overcoming the challenges our particular project entailed was incredible.

Equally importantly, the follow-up service and ongoing responsiveness and support that the team give to ensure that the system continues to deliver for us is second to none.

SONA are definitely one of the best teams that we have ever worked with and we would not hesitate to recommend them wholeheartedly.

Mr & Mrs Langley, Cheshire

The Challenge

We were introduced to this client through a builder we were working with on another project.  The client had a system that whilst on paper met their requirements, was a constant source of frustration for the family.  The system was unreliable and cumbersome to use, so the family felt stressed by it on a daily basis.  When technology is designed well, it is seamless and enhances life at home. When it’s designed or installed badly, it creates additional stress. This is something we often come across, sadly.

The system was being supported by a number of companies, none of which had overall management of the system (and therefore little accountability if something went wrong!)  There were different companies responsible for the network, network management, security and CCTV, audio video system and telephony.  So when there was a problem, it was a job to try and even figure out who was responsible to come out and take a look at it!  Let alone fix it.


The System

A data network originally installed to support the CCTV system had become responsible for providing connectivity across the site with all devices on a single subnet with no segregation or security protocols in place.

No documentation of the system was in place, with equipment spread across multiple buildings and no-one actually knew what equipment was present on site and how everything was connected together as an overview.  Whilst clients may not consider this to be important when designing the technology in a home, and selecting a company to work with, documentation is a huge way to empower yourself as a client.  You then have records of your home should you ever need to get anyone else involved.  We pride ourselves at SONA on providing all clients with a handover pack at the end of each project, containing all documentation they should ever need, if for any reason, they wanted to use another company.  So far, that hasn’t happened!

The Brief

The brief was simple – update and refresh the system where possible, ensuring it met the clients immediate needs, and gain a full and complete understanding of the cabling and systems in place with a view to documenting the entire installation and providing ongoing support moving forward.  Essentially we were retained by the client to get a grip on the system and renew their confidence in it.

An unusual project for us to enter the CEDIA awards 2021 with, but one we felt demonstrated how we were not only able to design and install brand new award winning systems in new properties, but also assist clients who had been disappointed by a previous experience in an existing house.

As this was an existing, decorated and completed property, there was no opportunity to run new cabling, and the client wanted to retain each rooms aesthetic.  The challenge was therefore to completely update the underlying systems and equipment to provide the day to day functionality required, with reliable and intuitive operation.

The SONA Process

We achieved this by taking control of the fundamental infrastructure – providing a fully managed, high performance network to support all devices, and then systemically looking at the audio video elements of the existing system, and developing a solution where we essentially left all in room equipment that was on show in place, but upgrading televisions to equivalent sized up-to-date models, upgrading local surround receivers to the latest technology, using a de-centralised video approach, and replacing the dated audio system.

This entire process was made particularly challenging as plans to carry out the works whilst the family were away were ultimately not possible due to lockdown restrictions.  The whole installation, from start to finish was therefore carried out with the family living in the home, with the client extremely busy on video calls every day and for most of the day, and mock examinations being taken by the client’s children requiring internet connections.

The SONA Team are used to working with conditions such as this, so took it in their stride, always keeping the client up to date, and liaising with them regularly to set and manage expectations to minimise disruption and frustration.  The result is now a fully integrated home that meets the client brief, but also has accounted for the family that live there.  Their likes and dislikes, sensory preferences, daily routines and rhythm of their week.  The client now feels the enhanced luxury that a SONA system brings to the home, and feels reassured that the system is being remotely monitored 24-7.  The confidence that is given knowing that you call one reliable and supportive company, should you ever have a problem, who can offer practical support is now an added benefit, that the client perhaps hadn’t appreciated they were missing before.