Builder Turns to Tech to Give Disabled Hero Freedom

United States Marine Corps Corporal Christian Brown led 163 combat missions as a squad leader in Afghanistan, the makings of an American hero.

In December 2011, while leading his squad on a foot patrol, Christian stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). Both his hands and arms were hurt and his legs had to be amputated. Once he woke from his drug-induced coma, a month later, he had to face another struggle; his home no longer accommodated his needs.

After hearing his heroic story, members of the Gary Sinise Foundation wanted to make his life just a little bit easier through the use of tech. Through the foundation’s R.I.S.E. Program, Brown was able to receive a fully-integrated smart home, customized to also be wheelchair accessible.

D&D Custom Homes built the home with mobility and convenience in mind. All of its hallways and main areas are designed to be a minimum of five feet wide, which helps the wheelchair maneuver around the home with ease.

Electronic Environments integrated the house with Elan and Core Brands tech in order to give the veteran full control over the shades, thermostats, TVs, smart lights and connected devices in the home.

“[It’s] probably one of the nicest systems we’ve ever installed just because of how much it helps him, and we really want to do another home for any soldier, because they really deserve it,” says Tim Bell of Electronic Environments.

Home Automation

Elan was used to connect and improve accommodation.
Elan was used to connect and improve accommodation.

The integration team used Elan Home Systems as the central platform to connect the home’s devices.

Through the Elan system, Brown is able to control every device in his home, including the home’s smart lighting systems, connected shades, and security cameras and everything in between.

For integrators, the most useful aspect of the home’s platform is the ability to remotely work on the platform in case of an issue. This allows the integrator to stay accountable and keep their clients’ tech working smoothly, without the need for a service visit.

Starting with a stable and flexible automation platform is the first and most important step when building for a client in a similar situation to Brown. Taking the time to understand your client’s expectations with their home control can help you install the best system for their needs.

Security Control

Nortek Security cameras keep an eye on Brown’s home.
Nortek Security cameras keep an eye on Brown’s home.

Cameras from Nortek Security & Control were installed throughout the home’s interior and exterior to give Brown the freedom to check in on his surroundings without going down the hall.

But seeing the home’s surroundings is only one aspect of security control the integration team has addressed. The front door can also teach builders about the benefits of a monitored and managed smart home.

A Holovision Doorstation was integrated with the Elan Intercom System to introduce control from the front door. Through the Elan app, Brown is able to check in on who is at the door. And depending on who it is, he can let them in without even going to the door, because of the smart door locks that were installed.

The ability to check in on the home and complete tasks remotely can be an invaluable marketing tool for all your clients, especially those dealing with disabilities.

Entertainment Control

A strong entertainment package amps up this project.
A strong entertainment package amps up this project.

In order to offer convenient and reliable lighting control, the team installed a range of smart lighting systems from PulseWorx lighting, a manufacturer of powerline systems for the home.

Brown is also able to control music in every room through a six-zone, multi-room audio controller. Niles and Sunfire speakers pipe music from the controller into the room of choice.

4K TVs came standard with this project, and when building for an entertainment-focused client, the introduction of high-definition entertainment can help you stand out.

The key lesson from Brown’s entertainment control is that luxury integrators need to be thinking about how they can make their clients’ homes as entertaining as they are accommodating.

Accommodating Tech

The integration team had to get creative to accommodate certain areas of the home.
The integration team had to get creative to accommodate certain areas of the home.

This project can rally help builders think about a project differently when building for a client with disabilities. When a client is in a wheelchair, their entire viewpoint and access to their surroundings is skewed.

“The switches and gear had to be lowered, so he can see and use everything. This is something I think we all take for granted and don’t often think about,” says Bell.

Power Saving Tech

Power management tech was installed on this project.
Power management tech was installed on this project.

When installing thousands of dollars of luxury home tech, it is crucial that builders and integrators also offer whole-house surge protection as standard.

A powerful power management system installed with the equipment rack can help your clients feel secure that their tech is protected. It also prevents costly service visits from the integrator.

For Brown’s system, a Panamax M4315-PRO system was chosen to safeguard the home’s devices. Power management makes sense on any luxury tech job, because when you are dedicating time and resources on a project, you don’t want your work going up in smoke in case of a surge.