What Is an HTA Design Partner?

What Is an HTA Design Partner?

The Need for Early Technology Design

When planning a new construction or remodeling project, it is vital that the clients’ technology needs are considered and designed early. Without early design collaboration, technology-related performance, functional, and aesthetic compromises are almost guaranteed later in the build. When the home’s technology is decided late, there are often costly change orders and project delays. Nobody is happy. 

The logical solution to this reality is a qualified home technology integrator being a trusted design team member an architect, interior designer, or builder relies on for early technology consultation and design. It may suprise you to learn that only a small percentage of home technology integrators provide design & engineering documentation. An even smaller percentage offer a technology consultation phase of service. As such, the Home Technology Association, as a service to architects, interior designers, builders and their clients, created a professional designation and set of guidelines to identify design-centric home technology integrators.

The ‘HTA Design Partner’ Program for Collaboration Success

The Home Technology Association’s ‘HTA Design Partner’ program was created to recognize the home technology professionals that not only offer technology consultation and design, but they also collaborate with your design and build team to ensure that the technology is integrated into the home in the best way possible. 

This program is only available to technolgoy integrators that meet the stringent HTA Certification guidelines, as defined here. HTA Design Partner designated firms adhere to a set of guidelines, listed below, that serve as the basis for successful design collaboration and coordination with architects, builders, and interior designers. The guidelines were created with the input of architects, interior designers, general contractors, and design-centric home technology integration firms.

Helping Architects, Interior Designers & Builders with Technology Design

The HTA Design Partner designation makes it much easier for design and build professionals to find a trusted home technology pro that appreciates the nuance of beautiful design, communicates well, plays well with others, and is committed to providing excellent ongoing customer support. Architects, interior designers, and general contractors that handle their clients’ technology needs proactively can opt into the corresponding HTA Technology Partner program, described here.

HTA Design Partner Guidelines:

1 – Consultation & Design
The HTA Design Partner integrator must offer and be able to provide the following design and engineering documentation to the design and build team:

a. Device placement drawings 
This documentation provides a basis for coordination with other trades. This includes placement of visual items such as speaker locations, TV locations, wiring head-end, thermostats, remote temperature sensors, equipment racks, lighting & shading wiring panels, wall controls (keypads, touchscreens, etc.), surveillance / doorbell cameras, access controls, motorized shading locations, and lighting fixture locations (if supplied by the integrator), etc.

b. Rack drawings
Establishes how much space is needed for the technology systems so the design and build teams can allocate enough space.

c. Electrical requirements
To include all the integrator-supplied or integrator-managed system’s power requirements, location of AC outlets, the need for any dedicated circuits, grounding requirements if needed, etc. This typically includes lighting control systems, AV systems, motorized shades, TVs, screens, projectors, TV lifts, etc.

d. Cooling requirements
For both electronic equipment locations and specialty rooms such as a home cinema. Includes BTU calculations. Includes equipment head ends and any place electronics will be in confined spaces. For high-end theaters, requirements for air handling volume and noise will take special design that needs to be shared with other design and trade professionals. The integrator can take on these design requirements, if qualified, or engage/refer a theater design specialist to the design and build team. 

e. Prewire plan
For all systems installed and managed by the integrator and any wiring for communication to controlled systems that may not be installed by the integrator (alarm, climate, pool/spa, gate controls, battery backup, etc, including lighting and shading if not installed by the integrator). This will reveal if any conduits are required for “future proofing” or to exterior locations / outbuildings.

f. Framing requirements
For speaker locations, blocking for TV mounting, recesses for TV mounting, motorized screens, lifts, low-voltage backboxes, etc. 

g. Wi-Fi heat maps 
For determining how many wireless access points (WAPs) are needed for strong Wi-Fi coverage.

h. Shade pocket requirements

The HTA recommends using a document sharing platform to allow all affected parties to access the most up to date set of plans (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.). Notify all parties when an update is made. 

2 – Contract
HTA Design Partners only commence work with a signed contract that clearly defines payment terms and what products and services they are providing. The functionality of the technology systems will be defined.

3 – Project Management
HTA Design Partners will notify the architect, builder, and interior designer who the various project team staff are in their firm, and who to reach out to for what types of specific project information. This will be communicated in writing and shared with all necessary staff of the architect, interior designer, and builder.

HTA Design Partners commit to respond to any request for information (RFI) within 24 hours on business days. If the RFI includes a request that necessitates reaching out to others that may require more than a 24-hour turnaround, they will notify the requester to acknowledge their request, and will continue to follow up regularly until the RFI is satisfied.

4 – Design Collaboration
HTA Design Partners reach out to the project’s designers, such as the architect and/or interior designer, to share and discuss any visually-noticeable technologies, such as video displays, speakers, controls, cameras, etc. Beyond eliminating misunderstandings that could develop later, such coordination will help the integrator select appropriate speaker sizes / technologies that match architectural lighting, select shading that complements the interior design, figure out solutions for hiding video displays (if desired), allow a discussion for flush-mounting certain items luxury control interfaces, decide the most appropriate keypad finishes, and more.

5 – Proactive Communication
HTA Design Partners are proactive in communicating with all trades affected by the home technology systems being designed and installed. Beyond the architect, interior designer, and general contractor, this includes the electrician, HVAC contractor, framer, pool/spa contractor, lighting designer, custom furniture maker, landscape architect, etc. HTA Design Partners share any documentation that will affect them.

6 – Customer Service
HTA Design Partners share their customer service and warranty policies in writing. 

7 - Punch List Completion
HTA Design Partners make it a high priority to finish the project completely and in a timely manner. 

8 - Hand-Off Meeting
HTA Design Partners schedule a hand-off meeting with the homeowners and any others they may invite (staff, babysitter, etc.) to show them how to “run the home” and who to call if there is an issue.

9 - Communication & Respect
HTA Design Partners' interaction with the clients should portray the project’s architect, designers, builder, etc. in a positive light. If there are any design problems or disagreements, they commit to handling issues behind with scenes, not in front of the clients.

10 - No Sales Pitches
HTA Design Partners focus on education and informing the clients of their home technology options. They are committed to listening to the clients’ needs and not pushing product.

11 - Financial Relationship
HTA Certified integrators are worthy of hiring due to their proven excellence in technical ability, installation skills, and customer service. Architects, interior designers, and builders refer HTA Certified integrators based on their professionalism, not on any concealed financial relationship. Any monies paid to architects, interior designers, and builders by HTA Design Partners should be transparent to the end user.