Building a new house affords the owners complete control over everything from the architectural design to the contractors to the materials used. When Sarah and Mark Huff cleared a decrepit caretakers hut off their 3-acre property in California, they had all the tools they needed to build a fantastic new 5,000 square foot home. The Huff family had operated a sawmill in the area for six generations over a span of more than 100 years, so they knew a lot of contractors and architects in the area. The one aspect they needed help with was the home’s automation system, which led them to meet Justin Brees of AM House.
Sarah and Mark Huff outfitted their new home with top-of-the-line tech to make daily life simpler, and were blown away at the power and simplicity of modern control technology.
“I worked in the electronics industry building motherboards for major manufacturers,” Sarah Huff said, “so I was well aware of home automation and real time control and I always wanted to have an automated home. We knew what we wanted to automate, but we didn’t know who to call, what to buy or how to go about installing a system. We probably interviewed more electronics integrators than any other type of contractor until we met Justin from AM House. He was the most knowledgeable person we spoke with, and he was the only one that really understood what we wanted and had the skills and means to make it happen. Once he showed us the ELAN g! system we were done interviewing.”
After meeting with Brees, the Huffs started to see just how big of a difference a modern home automation system could make in their daily lives. With the ELAN g! system they learned that they could control lighting, audio, video, window shades, security, surveillance and more, all from their smartphones and tablets. Mobile control was a big selling point for the Huffs because they travel a lot and have multiple buildings on their property, including horse stables where Sarah raises rescue horses that are brought in from as far away as Texas. Brees positioned one of the surveillance cameras outside the home to point directly at the stables so they could see if any horses were causing a commotion and then take appropriate action.
“Justin was amazing when it came to showing us what we could do, and it sort of made us couch potatoes!” Huff joked. “The system is so intuitive and easy to use that even my technophobe husband was able to just pick up the iPad and play around the day after installation was finished. After a day he was fully immersed and loved the system, and that was amazing for me. Beyond the simplicity, the system is more powerful than we imagined. The best example is that when we want to have a party, we can hit a simple ‘entertainment’ button that Justin created, and it automatically puts the lights and shades to exactly where we want them, turns on the stereo, turns on the porch TV, and then when someone comes to the door our front door camera view pops up and shows us who’s there. It couldn’t be easier.”
Proving that the right integrator makes all the difference, Brees spent time with the Huffs talking about how they go about their day in the home and used their real experiences and schedules to create scenes for lighting and window shades to make their home living ads comfortable and effortless as possible. The house utilizes a lot of distressed timber and glass, so there is a lot of light and therefore a lot of shades to control the light. Brees programmed individual shades to specific settings based on time of day, so in the living room for instance, at dusk certain shades go up while two others stay down to eliminate any glare on the TV.
“You can put the best technology in the world in a home, but if it’s not easy to use and the person installing it doesn’t know what they are doing 100 percent, it won’t be useful,” Huff added. “For us, there is so much glass in the house that the motorized window shades are a godsend. Justin even helped us with things outside of his wheelhouse, like speaking with DirecTV about signal issues we had and helping AT&T install the modem. He also set up the entire home with these amazing speakers from Niles, which we didn’t even know about, and we’re so thankful he did. It’s a pleasure to have such high quality sound for all of our music and TV, especially outside.”
Other special features include a special “Mark” button that Mark can press while still in bed in the morning to turn on certain hallway lights, but not bedroom lights, so he can walk down to the home’s gym without waking Sarah. On the expansive back porch that includes two separate seating areas, multiple Niles speakers and a TV, even the water and fire centerpiece is controlled through the ELAN g! app.
What’s more, the Huff’s daughter and son-in-law live in a connected guest house that runs on it’s own ELAN g! system. They have more family that lives nearby as well, so the house is a regular destination for family gatherings, and having quick and easy control of all their home’s subsystems makes hosting such parties a breeze. Nobody ever has to get up from the table to change the lighting or music, so the whole family can enjoy the night without missing a beat.
“Something that might not get enough attention is the remote access to the security system, and I love it,” Huff continued. “If the alarm goes off, we can log in no matter where we are and see what is going on in real time. Between the security system and the cameras, we’re never more than a few taps away from our home. The ELAN g! system helps us stay connected and worry free.”