'Furnished By Owner' - Good Or Bad?

How often is 'shared labor' or 'furnished by owner' equipment part of your work? I am curious to get your take on end-users/customers who choose to save money by doing some of the install work themselves, or furnish equipment for the project.

In my experience as an integrator, 'furnished by owner' was a yellow flag and caused me worry. While I appreciate being resourceful, I really loathed working with 'repurposed' (used) equipment and had a hard time getting even simple 'shared labor' tasks like cable pulls done properly. Unless winning the job hinged on the customer being able to furnish these elements, I avoided them like the plague.

Do you agree? Disagree? What is your experience?

As a consultant, I discourage "furnished by owner" equipment or labor because it dilutes the contractual responsibility of the integrator. I can tell you numerous horror stories about this.

That being said, many of my larger corporate clients have standardized on certain types of computer and networking equipment and always want to to provide this equipment themselves for use with the VMS, SMS, etc. They don't want the integrator to introduce any non-standard equipment into the facility that their IT people will later have to support.

In order to make this work as smoothly as possible, I always ask that the integrator provide the technical specs for the computer and storage being provided and approve the final configuration before they install the security application software.

Brian, I guess you won't be integrating in my place of employment. We insist on being involved in every aspect of any job: from pulling cables to installing and programming equipment. Our theory is that since we will be the first line of defense when a system goes down, we want to understand every aspect of that system.

Carl, I am sure you're an integrator's dream client! :)

Carl would chew for a minute, and then spit out my bones! :)

It all depends on the customer, but in general from a hardware server standpoint (especially VMWare) we are pretty forgiving and understanding if the customer wants or needs to supply that hardware (as long as it meets recommended specification levels). Cameras/door hardware/ etc is a different story.

From an integrators perspective, we deal with shared labor regularly. When it comes to infrastructure cabling, we would typically subcontract that to a specialized company that can pull the cable more efficiently as well as certify the cable runs at the end – we are dealing primarily with category cable. With regards to sharing this labor with someone else – it is either included or excluded. With regards to furnished by owner – typically network switches and server hardware falls into this category. Again, no problem – we simply exclude this from our scope and warranty responsibilities. I have only worked with one customer in the past that wanted to be intimately involved in the project – a very large US currency facility.. in which they have their own internal team of electronic technicians responsible for day to day service and repair as part of their overall security strategy. Even then, we performed the entire installation while they observed and took notes. Occasionally we run across a customer that wants to furnish a camera or a card reader.. no big deal. For the most part, we are able to agree contractually what scope we will perform and move forward with that.

Great comment so far. One thing I wanted to cross reference is the network deployment integrator survey results where overwhelmingly use their own dedicated networks. In the context of 'furnished by owner' a shared network typically would be one.

Working mostly in the education vertical, we run into owner supplied items alot. Most education end users have been taught that they can get products cheaper through some of their online distributors. This is not always the case. Sometimes in order to be the end to end solution provider that we strive to be I sell them the hardware for cheaper than I normally would. I do this by trying to pair it with high margin lines (switches/phone systems) and the structured cabling portion. By offering all of the systems needed to support a network based security system you can lower the per system cost to the end user.

We're running into more customers who want to run their own cable, even if it's a dedicated camera network seperate from the business LAN. We can't blame them if they have their own staff to do it and want to save some money. But we disclaimer the heck out of it and make sure they know any service call that it's determined to be their wire or any other 3rd party provided material will be a billable service call.


If we see FBO in Div.13 or 17 (typically) in the spec of a new building then we jump on it like it was steak. This means we get to bid direct to the owner and don't have to work through the general contractor. Our only interaction with the GC is to make sure we don't interfere with his schedule. We actually encourage the FBO spec on new buildings if we have some relationship with the owner..i.e: K-12 districts, municipalities and universities.

I would encourage your members not to avoid FBO specs on new construction. Just go after the owner.


In my view, there are a number of considerations relating to infrastructure "by Owner": IT policies; security/redundancy of the Owner's infrastructructure; ability to commit IT resources to the project; capability of the integrators avaialble, cost and more. Outside of infrastructure, existing video equipment and cabling could be also be considered "by Owner"; and lets not forget about "by others" specs such as door hardware.

The big issue is clarity. Integrators should cleary understand their responsibility with regard to things they do not supply. This gets really complex because the integrator is usually the first point of contact for all things wrong with the system installed. What happens if the furnished item is the cause of a problem? Do you charge? Take the issue to door hardware and it gets really touchy. Does he charge if he gets a call about the prop alarm going off all the time and it is determined that the door does not close and latch properly upon exit?

Rigthly or wrongly, if the integrator keeps sending bills for such services, he may find himeself out of job. On the otherhand, if the integator adds this cost as an alternate on the proposal for services, it will be clarified and addtional service costs will be more justifiable. In any case, if the specs do not have clarity, the integrator's proposal should.

Hello, Jim:

By 'clarity' do you mean 'disclaimer'? When you write "Integrators should cleary understand their responsibility with regard to things they do not supply." I think this understanding is MUTUALLY important.

I agree when you state "if the integrator keeps sending bills for such services, he may find himeself out of job." but is it not fair for the integrator to bill for these items? He may just as quickly find himself out of a job by giving away free labor and equipment to fix problems! :)

In some cases, it is difficult for an integrator to fully understand an "FBO" entity (like a LAN or door hardware) to recommend amendments or alternates on a proposal. Your thoughts?