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Monday, January 21, 2013

Demand lacking for prewiring in new houses

DALLAS - Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Home builders are facing that type of situation with prewiring for home automation and other high-technology applications such as home offices and home theaters. Do builders prewire houses before there is enough consumer demand for such features?

A survey of 275 builders by Parks Associates of Dallas indicates that builders are waiting for more consumer demand:

* A total of 17% of the builders believe they need at least a 25% level of consumer demand to provide prewiring.

* Another 12% look for up to 50% of all consumers to request the feature.

* Some 11% want as much as 75% and 3% need up to 100% of consumers asking for prewiring in their homes.

The majority of builders does not believe the necessary wire for the prewiring task should cost more than $1000. Some builders say they are willing to go as high as $2000 for a 3000-square-foot home.

Parks made the survey available at the Forum 96 meeting, a two- to three-day session in San Diego during October.

Most builders simply do not know what is acceptable, primarily because of their lack of detailed knowledge about prewiring issues as well as their subcontracting options, according to Tricia Parks.

What Do Builders Prewire Houses For?

Intercom 13.49%
Whole-House Automation System 4.11%
Multiroom Video 7.48%
Multiroom Audio 11.58%
NADK 13.64%
Standard Cable Service 20.97%
Security 19.79%
Other 8.94%

Source: Parks Associates
Of builders "in the know," most believe a makers' financial incentive (or discount, depending on how it is offered) of up to $500 would convince builders who are not prewiring to do so.

The biggest inhibitors to installing prewire include the perceptions of 31% of builders who fear it is too expensive; 18% who are concerned that not enough consumer demand exists; 14% who think consumers are not educated enough to understand the need for the prewiring; and 9% who say it is an installation headache.

Prewiring costs range from 60 cents to $1 per square foot to provide a home with "future-proof," coaxial, twisted pair and fiber optic cabling. This estimate represents total prewire, which may run $1500 to $3000.

The cost to wire to current wiring standards is 30 to 60 cents per square foot. Thus, the incremental costs total 30 to 40 cents a square foot, placing standard wiring costs at $750 to $1500 for a 2500-square-foot home.

Though some argue the incremental costs to add these newer types of wiring are high, Parks says, the costs to retrofit that type of wiring after the construction phase will be much higher.

While the fear that low consumer demand is the strongest reason given by builders for not prewiring, the reverse also is true. The main reason builders have prewired to date is attributable mostly to consumer demand.

Abstract: A survey of 275 house construction companies revealed that builders are reluctant to prewire new homes due to the lack of consumer demand. About 17% of those surveyed stress that a 25% level of demand will prompt them to offer prewiring services while 12% of the builders require up to 50% demand and 11% want 75% demand. The reluctance is attributed to builders' false perception that prewiring is too expensive, unpopular and hard to install.

Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)
McLeister, Dan. "Demand lacking for prewiring in new houses." Professional Builder [1993] Jan. 1997: 60. Home Improvement Collection. Web. 21 Jan. 2013.
Document URL

Gale Document Number: GALE|A19561720

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