The Block NZ 2012 winner Ben Crawford and his fiancé Kylie are building their dream home. Share their proud moments and pitfalls here every week.

It's pretty easy to think that wiring your home stops when you've decided where to put your lights, plugs, switches and phone jacks. And I guess a few years ago it did but, as the technology around us changes faster than we can keep up, the scope of what can be done in a home from an electrical point of view is greater than switches and plugs.

Connecting your house and the appliances within it to the internet to create a "smart home" tailored to your lifestyle is now common. In fact, it's almost expected.

Kylie and I have been brought up in the digital age yet we still found the sheer variety and range of solutions daunting and confusing. We also felt a lot of pressure to get it right as retrospective additions are a costly reality for any mistakes or short cuts we might make. Luckily, we've been working with smart home experts, EAV Limited, from the beginning of our dream home journey.

EAV has made everything incredibly simple, from our basic electrical needs to our automation and audiovisual requirements. We've enjoyed getting to know owner Matt Slater and his team and their input has been invaluable in helping us with our decisions and improving our home's liveability.


They're also just genuinely good blokes. For example, last week they came in to pre-wire our living pod and worked until after midnight to keep our build on schedule.

As a token of thanks, Kylie and I bought pizzas and beer for dinner so, unexpectedly, we had our first dinner party, right where our dining table will be.

When we came back the next day, we were excited to see all of our smart home and electrical features in place - well the wires, anyway, as the final fit-out won't happen for a few more weeks.

Home security has always been mandatory for us, so we called on the expertise of the EAV team to devise a solution.

Through an app on our phones we'll be able to control the AV in our house, with the ability to play different audio in different zones of the home. Photo / Ben Crawford
Through an app on our phones we'll be able to control the AV in our house, with the ability to play different audio in different zones of the home. Photo / Ben Crawford

First, the guys recommended hardwired smoke sensors, ensuring we are always protected, as there are no batteries to go flat or be forgotten about. Then they designed an alarm system with motion sensors throughout the house and keyless front door access.

This keyless feature is brilliant. We'll never have to worry about losing our keys.

Instead, we will control our front door remotely through our econnecx home automation app or via an access keypad.

It also solved an aesthetic problem we'd been battling for months - creating the illusion of a hidden front door by seamlessly integrating it within the cedar cladding.


The sticking point was always the bulky lock system that had to be placed on the door. However the keyless solution provided by EAV has meant our vision can now become a reality.

I'll be the first to admit I initially thought an integrated AV system was an unnecessary extra when Matt asked us if we wanted to wire the house for audio.

But as we talked about it and he presented us with a number of options, we eventually decided it would be silly not to make use of the opportunity.

We haven't gone nuts with it, but working with Matt we've designed a multi-zone solution that suits our needs and home.

A key requirement was the speakers and hardware had to be hidden to be in keeping with our seamless aesthetic.

EAV solved this by sourcing high performance, slim line speakers to fit in our narrow ceiling cavity, neatly hiding the cabling within the walls and concealing the hardware inside our entertainment unit.

In the living room, our television, music and Blu-ray player will be connected to the AV system and the recessed ceiling speakers will create an at-home, cinematic experience.

Meanwhile, we're running two speakers to our rooftop deck, making maximum use of the multi-zone functionality of our Sony AV Receiver.

That means I could be upstairs listening to the cricket commentary on Sky Sport, while Kylie is downstairs listening to music streaming from the internet, both of us able to independently control the sound coming from our respective speakers by using an app on our phones. Now that's smart, huh.

• Find out more about Ben and Kylie's dream home at

For more information on the Kiwibank First Home Buyer's Guide visit: and search for "first home".