A Day in the Life of a Custom Installer

When someone says he's an accountant, a stockbroker, or a trash collector (excuse me, "Sanitation Engineer"), you know what he does for a living. But when I say I'm a custom electronics installer, I usually get a blank stare in return. Some people think I sit around watching movies all day (okay, some days I do), while others think I'm somehow associated with the phone or cable company.

For more than four years, Sound & Vision has let me write about different aspects of custom installation, including distributed audio and video systems, automation, and wiring. But a lot of people still don't know exactly what to expect when an installer shows up to do his job.

What's a typical day like? Photographer Jim Raycroft followed me and my crew - Andrew Petroski, Tom Ramirez, and Ken Watts - around to capture us in action. We don't necessarily do all these steps on any given day, and certainly not on the same job, but this will give you a good idea of what's involved. The phases covered here are related to all jobs, whether they're started during new construction or retrofitted into an existing home. These steps might take more than a year for new construction, or they might be compressed into a few days for a retrofit.

So, if you're thinking about hiring someone like me, this is what I do. Or if you're thinking about doing the install yourself, this will let you know what you're getting yourself into!