Not long ago it was pretty geeky just to have a computer connected to the Internet. I’m only talking 15 years ago! Pre-Millennial, pre-Facebook, pre-Google, and almost pre-history. Since then, we’ve seen the Internet advance at an incredible pace. The number of mobile and “internet of things” devices has exploded in barely half a decade. Wi-Fi is now as important as indoor plumbing, so every design-build pro needs to know some networking basics.

While the IT portion of the modern smart home is mostly the technology designer’s domain, every design-build team member can now expect to be impacted by the quality and performance of the network. To avoid running into trouble, I suggest you bring in a technology designer as early as possible – and on every project. They are able to help assess what the network infrastructure needs to be comprised of to meet the expectations of every design-team member.

Whether the homeowner is bringing in an IT specialist or not, let me recommend a few basics every design-build team member should know about so you are able to judge if your client’s network will be up to the task of supporting your own specialized design features.

sustainable networking infrastructure

Wired networks are still the standard for reliability and performance. Always. Insist on a robust wired network using high-quality hardware. The network isn’t a good place to save a few bucks.

For wireless, I recommend multiple wireless access points installed strategically throughout the property to provide superior overall coverage. With multiple wireless access points, you’re also better prepared for the future – we simply don’t know today what wireless devices will be added to a home later or in which rooms they’ll reside.


Always be mindful of security. Make sure every single device on the network has a strong password. That means always replacing default passwords with something rated “strong”. Oh, and be sure to keep devices updated with the latest firmware, too. A hacked smart home isn’t very smart once the hackers start to play games with critical systems.

remote monitoring

My final piece of advice is to suggest to the homeowner that they contract with a reputable technology design firm to monitor the home’s network 24/7/365. These services are very affordable and can save untold money and frustration in case of system failures. If an IoT device goes offline, someone is monitoring it and addressing it 24/7. For critical system controls like air, water, and security, monitoring is even more crucial.

final thoughts

As I mentioned, everything in the modern home touches the network and the Internet. A robust, secure, and monitored network is a must if you want your smart home to end up in graduate school!