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Case Study – James Teasal

Case Study: June 2016

Client: James Teasal

Location: Wickham Bishops

From the start…..

James Teasal was the proud new owner of a very substantial new residence in Wickham Bishops at the end of 2015. He had bought the premises during the building stage as his primary family dwelling looking to create the best home he had ever owned. With a well negotiated purchase price James had significant budget left to add his personal touches to the house and took possession in December 2015.

In January 2016 I was invited to consider providing a full package of AV, lighting control, automated blinds, CCTV, access control and security all to be fitted into this newly painted and decorated home without too much disruption to the family life whilst they were now resident in their new home.

As they say in the world of AV, “Everything is impossible!” however this project presented it’s first problem on day one, which was, how to connect everything without making multiple cable routes around the house with cutting channels and routes into the new plasterwork to hide cables and then having to re-plaster and finish the wall.

The next problem was how to integrate new equipment and the customer’s existing equipment into their new home as if it were designed into the build from the outset and add the customer’s personal touches into what we installed.

There were several compromises within the design of this house too in that the designers had not given consideration to the visual lines of rooms and the flow of the house. For example the kitchen and TV lounge open plan area could be approached from the huge and impressive main hallway, through double opening doors leading into the very large kitchen and breakfast bar area which was an impressive start but then allowing to you to look straight down the side of a partition wall where the TV mounting had be provided by the builder giving your grand entrance a view of the side of the TV, its bracket and cabling. So all that impressive start, spoilt by poor forethought about the TV position relative to the flow of the house and then the design of mounting too. There were no allocation for additional speakers in this vast kitchen and lounge space either, leaving the customer to run speakers on wires along the porcelain tiled floor or use the TV manufacturer audio solutions available to conquer sound in a space large enough to challenge a small village hall on size! This room also forced position of the seating around the TV position and adjacent to a very wide set of south facing bi-fold doors so summer time the seating area is over heated passively and too bright and winter time the sun’s angle will obscure the TV viewing completely. The quick answer is to fit blinds of course but this spoils the point of having the Bifold windows if the only time you’re using the space you need the doors closed and blinds down on sunny days!

The same sort of story applied to the main lounge, again the Fireplace was enormous with a TV connection point set into the corner of the room completely off alignment with possible seating arrangements which in a small room you might get away with but with the physical size of the room it just didn’t work for TV use at all. So this primary family room would have to be a reading room or a drawing room for quiet reflection or conversation. This can be a lovely idea for a room in such a grand house but with 5 children ranging from 12 to 1 yrs old our customer’s needs were multiple TV spaces for children and parents viewing.

Many rooms in this house seemed to be poorly planned, doorways out of alignment with corridors, poor window levels breaking up the flow of the eye as you walk around, grand entrance hall with lacklustre stairwell leading off.

Technically the house had no CCTV considerations, a very basic alarm system, a basic handset gate entry intercom and confusing multiple light switches for basic switching and a few rotary dimmers gathered together onto various wall plates along with switches for a 2 minute confusion of pressing and twisting to operate the lights in one room, forget the open plan spaces and multi-level height spaces, these switch plates needed a map or National Trust volunteer by each control point!

The lighting in the open plan spaces which should encompass different family activities as required, like eating, cooking and resting should use a mix of downlights, task lighting and effect lighting like chandeliers/pendant lights, wall lights and accent lighting, for example LED linear pelmets and recess lighting to balance the moods and needs as they change throughout the day. This house has lighting placed on a 1.2 metre x 1.2 metre grid throughout the ceilings with a few pendant and wall lights evenly dispersed plus a linear LED strip adhered to the underside of cabinet kick boards in the kitchen over a dark grey polished porcelain tile flooring which provides wanted reflective lighting and unwanted reflective lighting in the form of rows of light hot spots reflection in the flooring.

So did we fix it?

There were many new connections made around the house using Cat6a for high bandwidth connection for TV and CCTV to all TV points for 4K TV distribution. This allowed for the 7 family members to share a 4 box Sky TV install, DVD player, Apple TV’s and CCTV viewing. Some new cable routes were needed by cutting into plastered walls but with careful investigation we were surprised how few were needed.

New CCTV perches along the roof soffits were provided to give 360 degree CCTV coverage connecting all the CCTV footage to the main house TV distribution in HD quality. We also fitted a very high quality IP gate entry intercom system with an integrated very high quality HD camera, firstly to achieve high quality imaging of callers to the gate for access control but also for recording HD video of anyone loitering and calling at their gate entrance night and day. Both the CCTV footage and the gate entry camera footage are stored on a 30 day schedule recording hard drive which is viewed for playback on any TV and smart phone plus remotely via internet connected computer and smart phone. One key advantage of using a high quality camera integrated into a gate entry system is that in this instance and many other projects designed in the past is, we did not need to fit an ugly CCTV camera on the gate entrance and it also makes a saving on the camera cost and installation too.

New Cat6 cabling via the loft and through floors via carefully made risers allowed us to design and install a multiple point broadcast WiFi network throughout the house for seamless internet access.

All lighting circuits were upgraded using Rako wireless dimmers which allowed us to completely retro fit lighting control in each room without having to cut or modify a single wall or ceiling to accept our install. All light switches were swapped for high quality metal faced lighting control plates, simple On/Off button plates were fitted for simple control in place of the complex and confusing hallways, corridor and landing switches and 7 button lighting control plates were fitted for rooms needing mood scenes.

Speaker cables were retrofitted into most of the proprietary rooms via our carefully routed risers and temporarily removing light fittings to allow the cables to be routed to central areas of the ceilings. This allowed for a full entertainment package to be installed including internet radio, Spotify and playback of multiple family members iTunes account.

As for the room spaces, we designed two new cabinet in the kitchen TV lounge space and the main TV lounge to incorporate flush fitting of TV’s and incorporate proper audio for the size’s of the rooms. Alignment of doorways to corridor is planned for phase 2.

Customer’s result

The customer’s request to MODO was to integrate music in most rooms, Sky HD TV in most rooms without Sky boxes on show, unclutter the lighting and make it more user friendly. Add complete house WiFi connectivity, enhance the gate entry system by getting rid of the low tech wall mounted caller handsets and integrate all this into some touch screens in principle rooms and add simple to use remote controls where TV’s were being used.

We achieved all of the above for the customer but we also helped them through the process of re-evaluating their lighting in many rooms and removing the unwanted reflections in the kitchen floor. Adding greater use to the touch screen controls by programming adjust and store lighting presets for simple and fast lighting scene adjustment.

Concept design of extra cabinets that changed the layout focus of the rooms allowing the customer to commission cabinet makers to produce appropriate and enhancing furniture.

Assisted in the selection, design layout and specification of motorised roller blinds to many of the bi-fold doors. These blinds were advised by MODO to enhance summer and winter use of the rooms that would be exposed to high levels of sunlight and unwanted passive heating. These blinds were then automated into preset blind positions so that variable blind conditions could be quickly adjusted to the sunlight condition accordingly.

During the completion of the work detailed here the customer decided to change a room completely from connected to the system status to disconnected and for a new room to be made in a loft space which would now become the connected room. All this was done with little cost and issue as the system installed was flexible and dynamic enough to cope with significant changes and grow and change with differing family demands. In fact the customer has made a further additions of outside audio with phone App control of the audio and outside lighting since this install. Plans to also make a further big addition of a new cinema/children’s entertainment space where MODO will be providing cost and design concept, the construction details along with sound proofing advice, the AV and lighting too and to oversee the project install and ensure cost price is closely met.

Please refer to James Teasel’s testimonial in relation to this case study’s body of work.