We left off of our DIY alarm system purchase, install, and configuration with a functional alarm system not yet connected to a central monitoring station, mission half accomplished. But selecting a good central monitoring station is one of the most critical, variable, and potentially valuable aspects of a home security system. But before we started researching our various options, I really didn't have a true grasp on what this component of our security system did, let alone how it all works. Here I thought the most difficult aspect of the overall purchase would be the selection of the system. As it turns out, finding the right central monitoring company can ultimately make or break both your overall cost savings, as well as your general customer experience when you have an alarm event.

Before I go any further, I want to let you know that none of this post, or any of our security system posts were in any way sponsored. We didn't get free equipment or any free services. The whole purpose of these posts is simply to let you all know our process, experience, and the vendors we decided to use. 

Before I started shopping for our monitoring service, I had a lot of assumptions led by misconception, misleading marketing, and incorrect word of mouth. I had heard everything from "You don't need monitoring if you can just have your alarm system call your cell phone," to "there are some full service places online that only cost $8 per month." If there's one thing I did already know, the rate we were already paying to ADT, $54 per month, seemed exorbitant, especially for the service level, and we no longer wanted any part of it.

However, the search for a replacement was not an easy one. The Internet is absolutely full of "security review" websites that are no more than affiliate sponsored storefront marketing campaigns, setup for Search Engine Optimization purposes to further prop up the well known brands. You can rarely see actual costs without a phone call, and when you can it's typically just the starter package without any of the additional features we are interested in. Once I added in all of the things I thought I knew but didn't really know (like my belief you could just purchase an alarm.com subscription right from alarm.com), and I was almost off the rails with confusion and general bewilderment before I even got out of the station.

After just a few minutes of research I quickly understood that I really didn't understand much and needed to do some decent research on what it was I was buying before I could begin to formulate a decision on who to actually buy from. And to be totally honest, this difficulty in comprehension led to more than one significant delay in our ultimate alarm system replacement. I'd by lying if I said we'd not attempted to replace the system several times over the years, and my efforts were not thwarted by my own ignorance and frustration.

To avoid the potential for derailment yet again, I began by making a priority list for myself, sort of a checklist of what we had to have or would like to have in a monitoring company. I came up with the following.

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Comments 15

I think our bathroom vanity is going to be...unique. Yes, I think that's a good way to describe it, unique, in many ways.

To start out, the fact that it's a buffet and not a vanity to gives it automatic uniqueness points, but there are several other factors it has going for it in the one-of-a-kind department. I think the number one item our vanity will have in the distinctive category is its rather odd size, especially for a vanity.

It's somewhat fitting, as our home is also a rather odd size. Our house's 15 foot wide by 65 foot long footprint makes for an interesting use of space and layout. And while it may not be the most efficiently laid out house in the world, it's indicative of the "row house" style. Besides, the space works and we like it, so there's that. It's my hope that the same will ultimately go for our vanity. However, there are some shape/size related items we're going to need to overcome before our hopes and dreams for this piece have a chance at being fulfilled.

The goal of our vanity transformation is to fit the top with large piece of Cararra marble. We then intend to bring wedded bliss into our lives via the incorporation of two under mount ceramic/porcelain sinks fitted within the glorious crown marble that will sit upon this vanity. We also plan to mount the two sets of 8" spread faucets that have been patiently waiting for install for years. This goal, however, is actually a bit more of a challenge than I had hoped. What else is new?

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Comments 16

Another Monday, another snow storm in DC, only this one happens to be on St. Patrick's Day. What better way to have a day off of work than on St. Paddy's? 

This morning, at about the time the sun came up, I headed out and took a bunch more snow photos. Mostly because I can't get enough. Here are my favorites for the morning. Hope you enjoy.

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Comments 3

Last night I realized that we have several items that we've either asked for your opinion on a topic and haven't shared our final verdict, or given you periodic updates on a topic and then kind of petered out without a more recent status. You may have been able to tell from our less frequent updates, but Wendy and I have been busy with a capital Bee.

Don't worry, this isn't a "woe are we, having no time to do anything because we're just so busy, how do we simply make it through the day, please tell us how great we're doing and it's going to be okay." I hate blog posts like that, and I bet you do too. In fact, that's probably why we're Internet friends.

In reality, we're super busy because work has been crazy for me with lots of change, new responsibilities, and cool things like mobile app development (that I don't want to bore you with). And Wendy's job has been gangbusters, with new listings, representing buyers, and what seems like a constant stream of home inspections and settlements. And we're not even to the busy time of the Alexandria real estate year. And of course there's been the little "situation" with Lulu's cancer recurrence, and even Mel's had his share of unplanned vet visits.

In all this means that we're so swamped that we really haven't had much time to put into our house work or writing as many blog posts. Hope you haven't missed us too much.

But I digress...time for some closure on a few items.

First of all, thank you to everyone for chiming in on the bedroom wall vs bathroom closet alarm panel debate. Let me start by revealing who in our household prefers it where.

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Comments 10

Last week we gave you the rundown on our wireless DIY home security system search and selection process. After much deliberation and research, we decided to purchase the 2Gig Go!Control system to meet our needs. It seemed to offer the best combination of features, capabilities, aesthetics, and price.

Before I bore you with the details of our install, there's a major question at the end of this post that we need all of you to weigh in on. So even if you don't care at all about this awesome topic, please check out our big debate.

A few days after placing the order, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my box o'goodies. I don't care what it is, if it's a technology item and I ordered it, I get a little bit of nervous anticipation before it arrives. When the box showed up at our door I eagerly tore into its contents like a nerdy kid on Christmas.

This happens to be one of those projects that we've put off for years. We've been talking on and off about a new system since our old one had its first problems back in 2006. But as much talking as we did, we never actually pulled the trigger. To be totally honest, I'm glad we hadn't. Waiting has allowed the technology to come up to speed with the smartphone world, while the hardware has gotten lower profile and better looking. Once the box arrived at our house, well, it got real.

The project quickly moved from concept to reality, and it was up to me to make sure the box didn't sit in the basement collecting dust like so many other projects we'll get to "some day."

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Comments 30
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