American Way: OK, I'm ready to go with my new house. But how do I find a contractor who's qualified to install these high-tech systems?
Hetherington: A systems integrator is key to a successful installation. As with any other contractor or consultant, it's best to ask for references. Find out from others if they are happy and whether their system works. Also, do some research into what equipment brands you want to use and go to the manufacturers for a list of local integrators who handle the products.
American Way: What if I'm not building a new house, but I'd like to add some technology to my existing home or apartment. Am I out of luck?
Hetherington: If possible, it's best to install the wiring that you need for the project behind the walls or in the attic. But this can be expensive and is always messy in an existing home. For computers, there are other solutions such as wireless, powerline [existing electric wires and outlets], and existing telephone wire networks. Home lighting and appliance control over the powerline is also an option that works well in most applications.
5 great wired resources
extensive online library and e-magazine devoted to home technology