Tubes equip a house for gizmo era

March 09, 2003|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

A white tube runs attic to basement, like a stake through the heart of the $525,000-plus Wisconsin home. A network of smaller orange tubes snakes throughout its two stories.

The tubing is a structured raceway for low-voltage electrical and cable lines, installed by John Koeske, president of Knight Security Installations in Shorewood, Wis.

Koeske, a 30-year veteran of the burglar alarm and fire alert business, sees his newest professional role as residential neurosurgeon.

For $2,000, his "surgery" equipped the house for much of today's and possibly tomorrow's technology.

Thirty tubes encase lines for computer networking, cable/satellite communications, telephone service, video security, whole-house stereo, fire and smoke detectors, even a sump pump high-water alert system.

Tube-wired homes could be the wave of the future because every wall in every room has the capacity for altering or adding wires, cable or fiber-optic, without disturbing the walls. And planning ahead costs about half the price, with a lot less trouble.

"We don't know what technology will demand 10 years from now," Koeske said.

"The tube system allows for whatever comes, without doing any damage to the house. There's no mess, and no huge cost."

The tubes aren't cheap, said Brookfield, Wis., builder Frank Madden, who runs M.D. Properties Inc. in Mequon, Wis., and Brookfield. And many customers simply don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for what they might never need.

At the half-million price point, builder Silvercryst Ltd. Inc. partner Sarah Lee Going said: "I can't imagine not having it in your house. It's great for you, great for resale."

Once people understand what is being offered, said Koeske of Knight Security, they'll want it. Maybe if the Realtors understood it better, they'd use it as a selling point, he said.

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