Plumbing. The original work done before we bought the home was pretty bad for basement plumbing layout. Brought in a licensed plumber who is a friend. While not as cheap as doing ourselves..we have a catch. In our city you MUST have a licensed plumber and license electrician do all work which would be considered behind wall/hidden/etc. In short...you can't do it "yourself". So finding friends is a good way to reduce the heavy burden of a plumbers bill rate.
HVAC. We landed up going with 4 zone heating/cooling. We originally planned on 3 (basement, first, second). However, since our bedroom is effectively above area one (1) in the first post, it landed up being cheaper to go with four in terms of duct work from the contractor. In short...going with ONE more zone saved us nearly 2 grand!
Lesson learned...don't just ask for what you want, see what else they can do..you don't have to say yes. I've seen the Aprilaire kits. But in this case, what we paid vs Aprilaire cost was less than $500 difference...and I have somebody to bitch to when it doesn't work. Only odd thing is the second floor is on a wireless unit. This again saved us nearly $500 by not having to fish a wire. It works pretty well, plus you can take it form room to room. So when we have guests, we can cool//heat their room effectively just by turning on/off the dampers in each room. I call it a win all around.
Last..electrical. The panel is the corner where the bar is. As most people know you need 30" x 36" box around the cabinet that "does not impede progress". Well after talking with the city inspector and our contractor (who also is doing the cabinets), we have a solution. The picture in post #1 isn't quite correct. We have a 32" wide cabinet going in that corner which will not have floor/shelves OR ceiling panel. It is the same cabinet style you use to hide a washer/dryer stack. This way we don't have to have a horrible compromise (e.g. non-symmetry or moving the panel). The cabinet is more expensive (nearly an extra $1000 vs a normal 32" cabinet). However, it will gives us the look we are wanting.
There also used to be a pile of phone/network wires and coax. I cleaned it all up. Since that area will remain open via the cabinet discussed up above, I'll finish it up by putting an 8 port GigE switch in there. While not the most ideal, I think I've done the best with the hand dealt to me. Maybe someday if wireless is "reliable" for video streaming..this will all not be needed.
Welp..that is all for now.