Originally Posted by J_P_A
My wife and I are starting construction on our new home next month, hopefully, and I'm trying to decide if HA is going to be cost effective for us. This was started because I was interested in distributing video throughout my house from a centralized A/V rack. Once I researched that a bit, it seems the video matrixing can be done, but I also need a method of controlling it. Enter HA.
Is it possible to start out small (and inexpensive) with just video distribution and gradually add functionality such lighting, home audio, motorized shades, security, HVAC, and so on? There are so many options that it's difficult to decide if it's even worth researching from a cost/complexity standpoint.
I'm nearing completion of a home building project, and can briefly give you my experience. At my dealer's recommendation I went with Elan g! instead of Control 4, mainly based on the interface and his greater familiarity with elan and Homelogic products. I'll be able to control/monitor HVAC, lighting, whole-house audio, and security off the bat. We may use the irrigation function down the road as well.
My advice, if you're going to automate, either go ALL DIY or ALL pro install from the get-go. DIY was more than I wanted to tackle, and there are several midrange products including but not limited to g!, C4, and Crestron Prodigy to choose from. If you decide on a pro install, you'll need to lay out what you initially want, what your ultimate goals are, and your budget. I would actually let the pro run all of your cabling, rather than just running a bunch of cat6 all over the place. Once they know what you want, they will run all wiring prior to your drywall going up, and when hookup time comes along, they can be much more efficient at setup since they won't spend time figuring out how YOU wired everything.
One specific issue that was a pain in the rear for me. Motorized shades. Despite numerous discussions about needing 3-4" of casement around windows to accomodate shade mounting, the home was framed with 2 x 4's and windows were installed with only 1" recesses. I hate the look of shades sticking out from the wall. Solution, they had to fur out multiple walls to accomodate undermount shades, which ended up being pricier than just framing with 2 x 6's to start with. The other thing is that these shades need power. Depending on what you choose, you'll either need outlets put in the corners of the windows for each shade, or low-voltage power run to each window casement. With Lutron shades, the installer was able to run multiple low-voltage runs from a power source in the basement, with just a small hole in the casement to carry the wire. Much better aesthetically than an outlet.
The point of this is that planning a system out with an integrator is important up front, and particularly before drywall goes up. My integrator and his crew ran all wiring right after HVAC and plumbing were done (to avoid meddling), in concert with the electrician. A nice perk was that they ran the wires in short metal sleeves where they attached to framing so that the drywall guys couldn't put screws through cabling
Good luck on your endeavors, it will all be worth it in the end!