Originally Posted by 100weight
We have a meeting with the designer in a week, where we have to finalize the plan and any changes after that will cost $$$.
Oh, they're going to cost at that meeting, too... Prioritize your upgrade list in your head, as it will probably be spinning. Expect to want quite a bit of "extras" - and most importantly, if you've been looking at the model homes, make careful comparisons between what you're getting and what is shown in the model. Not talking about getting ripped off - quite the opposite. Went through this with my best friend's home build - there were a ton of small "options" in the model home that would have had minor upgrade charges (like a hundred bucks each). But the stupid salesdork didn't even mention them! So everyone assumed that these little things were there, until it was almost too late to add them (example - eyeball spotlight above the fireplace). Luckily he had a very good project manager that took care of him.
(which is also important advice - get to know your PM very well and be his best friend - you want him/her on your side!!!)
So I'm looking for advice on how to lay out our bonus room and living room. What we should ask the builder to put into the walls - wiring wise, speaker wise. What would you do if you had the same layout.
Builders are notoriously bad at placing speakers. Don't put "main" speakers (L/C/R) in the ceiling. If you want them in-wall, that's ok. Surrounds in the ceiling can be accpetable.
If it were my house, that fireplace would be moved over to one end of the wall or the other, so that you can position a TV next to it at the proper height. The "TV over the fireplace" business is crap. You don't want it up that high.
You can position either two or four in-ceiling speakers for surround in the family room, running all the cables to the front wall.
As part of it, I also need advice on hardware, as we just have a 51" Samsung telly.
Not now you don't. Any models of any TV and most AV gear will be out of date and replaced with new models before you move in. Come back 30 days before move-in and ask about TVs then...
Apparently it is a "smart home", with some fandangled box in the master WIC. (The model home had the box locked so I've no idea what it is or what's inside)
Its a robot camera system that takes pictures of everyone in the shower and uploads them to the Internet.
You'll need to find out what they mean by smart. Could be an energy management system, could just be a security panel.
We plan to use the living room as the main TV watching point and for the occasional movie. The bonus room is for movies, PC gaming, and the occasional TV. We don't intend on having theater seating (maybe in the future) just comfy couches. I have most of my movie collection stored on a PC. I would like to be able to "broadcast"(?) a movie to any of the TV's in the house, so what would I need for that?
A lot of patience. You'll need to do a lot of reading on media streamers / servers / clients to get stuff from your PC and do it well. Certainly can be done. Read lots of stuff in the HTPC and the Media Streamers forums here.
I have asked for cat5 network points wherever there is a TV point. (seemed like a good idea at the time)
That hopefully is already standard for them, but very good to start there. They will probably give you some allowance as to how many cat5e drops you get in the house. You'll want more - which will be an upgrade. Make sure you have at least one per potential TV location. Two or more give you more options (see the matrix switch and HDMI-over-cat5 topics in the A/V Distribution forum), but having at least one is critical.
The budget for toys is not fixed, but I would like to keep it at 10K.
Think about at least pre-wiring for whole house audio (WHA), which means pulling wires for speakers in the ceilings of many rooms, and wiring for potential keypads / volume controls as well. The builder may offer some packages there, too.
Good luck! It's a fun but sometimes frustrating experience!