Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Guardian Selection Appointment: talking in code

We had our Guardian appointment last week. When you build with Ryan homes, you have 2 weeks to make your structural change requests and another 2 weeks to make your color/design selections. The goal is to have everything decided in 30 days to prevent delays and apply for permits. Ryan Homes uses Guardian for security and home audio, so you need to make a separate appointment for those selections. They were pretty backed up, so we actually couldn't make our appointment until 1 day after our 30 day window. No big deal, we made it work. But we definitely felt the pressure to decide what we needed and take care of business. 

Since we were on a tight schedule, we checked out Guardian's website in advance. Their website is pretty good at showing you the various options (security, audio, central vac) but they don't show you any pricing. Except, pricing is kind of important to me. I mean, whole house audio speakers are super fun but if they're $50,000 I'll just use my iPod. So it's hard to decide what you want until you know how much things cost. For example, we know we wanted granite counters. But granite counters come in various levels of costs. So before we picked a color, we asked about the levels. No reason to pick out something way over your budget. Same for hardwood floors, carpet, cabinets, even paint. 

Because of the timeline, we requested info from Guardian in advance. We asked for pricing options, packages they had, etc. so we could start budgeting out what we'd like to add. Instead we were given a pretty generic email with things already on their website, no pricing. We were told that the typical range is about $3,500-$4,500 per home but they can't price without knowing our specific needs. Hmmm.... okay. Liar, liar, pants on fire to that. We gave up and decided to just wait for our appointment to come.

Fast forward to our appointment. You sit down and give the Guardian rep your floor plans and talk about what you'd like to add. He gives a little presentation with his suggestions. We quickly said no to the intercom system and central vac so we could spend most of our time on home audio and security. We opted to go for a surround sound built into our family room (hubby's dream). Then here's where it started to get frustrating. You still aren't told pricing on anything. Even when you ask.

For example, they can put audio speakers in the ceiling and you buy them in sets. You can do 2 rooms, 4 rooms, etc. We had talked about putting ceiling speakers in our master bathroom because I keep an iPod in there and it would be convenient to just have a system in the wall. Same for my office where I spend a lot of time.  The rep mentioned that we could put a speaker on our back patio as one of the options, which was great because we plan to spend a lot of time outside. When we're entertaining, we can have stuff playing in the family room/kitchen and then right out on the patio too. But what does this cost? Because if it's pricey, we'll just go with 2 rooms (or none at all if it's that much). I flat out asked, "What does this cost per room? It's hard to decide how much we want without knowing what it costs." I was told to just wait until the end when he added it all up and we could always take stuff off if we were over budget. Fine, let's just stick with 2 rooms for now.

Seriously? Do you just go to the grocery store and fill your cart up with everything you want and then guess how much it will cost? It feels sketchy. The same thing happened with the security system. You buy motion detectors and glass break sensors one by one. He makes suggestions for where to put them, and some of the overlap. Do we need both? No. That's personal preference for how locked down I want our house to be. I'm a big scaredy cat so I tend to overkill it here, but again, how much does this cost? Oh wait, that's a secret. I forgot.

So we begrudgingly pick out what we think we want and he spends a few minutes putting it into his computer. He asks us how much we think it's all going to cost. Hubby says $2,000 (hahaha) and I guessed $5,000. Because that's exactly what it was, a guess. I had no idea what we had spent.

And then guess what?! He turns around and shows us an itemized spreadsheet. And everything has a price. It's magical. Except it's on the computer screen spread out over several pages instead of printed out. That's nice. But guess what, prices DO exist. Of course they do. That's the way the world works. We had spent almost $7,000

Remember that fancy in room audio? It's $1,000 per room (bought in sets of $2,000). That was an easy decision to make. Do I want 4 of those? Nope! We did go with the outdoor speaker and one in my master bath. For $1,000 per room, I'll use my iPod elsewhere. It just wasn't worth it. We also took off their smart wiring system (which I truly didn't understand anyway).

We marked the locations of our outlets and speakers on the floor plans and signed off on them. Our final contract just has the total cost, without anything itemized on it. So I'm still not sure exactly how much we spent where, because I could only see it on the computer screen for a few minutes. I should have started taking pictures. ;)

Bottom line-- if I wanted to play games, I'd go to the playground. Our final cost was $5,800. The final contract shows $2,100 under security and $3,700 under other upgrades. It makes me uncomfortable not to have a breakdown of the equipment we wanted, so we've asked for an itemized list. We also were given upgraded speakers that have been discontinued, so I want that in writing too. So far, it hasn't been given to us. We're not signing off on the change order until the equipment is listed somewhere though.

Not pleased with their selling tactics, but have heard good things about their service once installed so that's why we went ahead and moved forward. Hoping we don't regret that decision.


  1. Thanks for posting this. I was searching for Guardian protection services and stumbled upon this. We are going with KB home and they have partnership with Guardian as well. We have an appointment with them this friday to go over what you have described. I even sent a mail to Guardian asking for what we need to come prepared with and asking for some approximate costs. Ofcourse, the answer was of no use. They asked us to refer to their website where there is no pricing information at all. I did find that they have some monthly plans for home security which looks to be reasonable. How did your cable and wiring with Guardian turn out?

    1. When we build another house, we will not be using Guardian. It just was one problem after another, and who has time for that in the middle of moving anyway? :)

      -The wall speakers were installed in the wrong place. We caught it during drywall, so Guardian came out and moved them.

      -After closing, my husband popped the front panel off the speakers to check them out. They were the basic model, even though we paid for an upgrade. Got the run around from Guardian, but they finally said they'd swap them during our set up appointment. When they came, they put in ANOTHER cheaper set of speakers. Took a third trip out for us to get the correct ones installed and that was only because WE had kept the paper work to prove it; they claimed they had no record of it.

      -Also took 2 appointments to get everything wired. The cable jack and the internet jacks were installed on opposite sides of the room, which meant a wire was going to have to run across the floor (or we'd have to do our own drywall work to get it in the wall) to connect everything. The tech who came to install suggested we purchase another piece of equipment and run everything in the basement instead to avoid this. So we had to go buy the equipment and then set up a second appointment. This would have all been avoiding if the jacks were placed correctly in our initial appointment (written about above), but the guy who marked the outlet locations messed it up. No idea why they were separated.

      So... get everything in writing. Don't trust their experience/word for it. Double check it all yourself. Or pick a different company. Hopefully your experience is better than ours. Good luck!