Callicrates (callicrates) wrote,

House update: Prewire rant

Here is the letter I gave to Pam and Rick concerning Prewire. I wrote it two days before closing, one day before they miraculously sent someone out to finish the network wiring. Enjoy.

First, a bit of background. willowisp and I ordered the network wiring package for our house. This involves installing four wall jacks with Category 5e network cable running to them in addition to the regular phone and cable TV jacks. In the options list we used when we set up our contract, the network wiring lists the structured wiring package as a prerequisite. I should also mention that I have a fair amount of experience dealing with networks.

I made one change to the standard network package. Instead of Category 5e cable, I wanted to substitute Category 6, which will support a substantially faster network. (If you're interested in the gory details, Cat6 will easily support gigabit Ethernet, while Cat5e is currently limited to 100baseT.) Prewire said that they weren't able to find a supplier for Cat6 cable, so I bought my own spool and gave it to Pam with the understanding that she would have Prewire use it when they came to run the wires.

Meanwhile, I wanted to find out precisely what hardware they were going to install. I wanted to know vendors, model numbers, all the technical details that would tell me what I was working with and what I might need to replace. Susan (sales manager) said she'd call Prewire and find out. After a period of her calls not being returned, we finally got hold of someone (I don't remember her name) who said that she didn't know but she would have one of her installers call me. That happened eventually, and while I didn't get all the information I needed, I got enough to work with... as well as the sense that it would not be worth the time required to get the rest of the details. It was nearly impossible for either Susan or me to get a timely response from Prewire when I had questions.

The wiring for the phones, network, and cable TV was strung around the first of March. It was totally wrong. The structured wiring package involves a cabinet in the master closet. All of the wires (in our case network, cable, phone, and alarm) run to that cabinet, and from there a single wire for each of those systems goes to the demarcation point in the garage next to the breaker box. Instead, the people who laid the cable ran all of the wires to the garage and out the wall. I really don't know what they were thinking: this makes no sense to me at all. I discovered the error and brought it to Pam's and Susan's attention.

I want to take a moment to say that I'm not upset that Pam didn't find this error. She's said several times that this is not a product she's familiar with and that she's been learning it as she goes along. I am upset that Prewire themselves didn't catch it. If I hadn't been paying close attention, it wouldn't have been discovered until after drywall at best, after close at worst. I doubt it would have been pleasant for anyone involved to have to cut through the drywall and re-run all the wiring.

Back to the story. Pam got Prewire on the phone one afternoon while we were both standing in the house. They were under the impression that I had ordered the network package but not structured wiring. Again, I fail to understand this: this is their own product we're talking about, and when willowisp and I were picking out options it was very clear that structured wiring was required in order to purchase the network option.

Prewire did eventually come back, pull the cables out, and re-run them to the master closet where they belong. Although it's a minor issue, I'm displeased with the amount of cat6 cable they wasted: it's peanuts compared to the price of the house, but that wire is not cheap.

After that, things went reasonably well. The wiring cabinet arrived and was installed in the master closet. There's one question left: who is responsible for terminating the network cables on both ends? The ends in the cabinet should have RJ-45 connectors on them, but instead (when last I checked, a week or two ago) are just loose cable. The ends in the walls are hidden behind blank faceplates. Right after the cabinet went in I found a pile of RJ-45 connectors on the floor, but when I went back it was gone. I really don't know what's going on here. Prewire did put connectors on the cable TV wiring when it came into that box. Why would they do that but ignore the network wiring?

A few phone calls to Pam, the phone company, and the cable company sorted out most of the jacks: our phone jacks are installed already, the faceplates for the cable TV will be put in when Comcast comes to do our installation... but no word on the network wiring. Pam left a message for Sharon at Prewire to call me to discuss it. I have not received that call. I think there's been more than one message left for Sharon to get in touch with me.

I'm prepared to put connectors and faceplates on the network wiring myself if necessary. That isn't a problem. My complaint is that through this whole process, Prewire has been difficult to contact in anything resembling a timely fashion. They made a major mistake in the installation that would have been messy and expensive to fix had I not found it quickly. I am displeased with the service I've received from them to date.


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