new construction pre-wire DIY - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

I'm purchasing a new construction, and of course the builder is charging an arm and two legs for structuring wiring ($100 per jack for either CAT5e or coax, even if in the same face plate; $350 for a 2" future tube from attic to basement, etc).

I declined all those, so now I'm facing the obvious task of trying to wire it myself. I don't have any stringent requirements, one CAT5e drop and one coax to most rooms would be sufficient.

Given that I didn't let the builder make money in this regard, what do you think of my chances of talking them into wiring the stuff myself? Who should I talk to for this (site manager)? I've read a ton of materials online and have been practicing with drilling 2x4s here and there.

I'm also considering the possibility, if they decline my request, to just go into shortly before the drywall is up and drill really tiny pilot holes in the top and bottom plates (where I want to place the outlet) and use a sharpie to mark them (as well as taking a lot of pictures with tape measures). Then I'll wait until I move in to finish the job. The only problem here will be how to get all the wires from the attic to the basement. Maybe I should have just paid $350 for the builder's future tube.
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blahsome View Post

I declined all those, so now I'm facing the obvious task of trying to wire it myself. I don't have any stringent requirements, one CAT5e drop and one coax to most rooms would be sufficient.

So wait, they aren't already running at *least* RG6+cat5e to "most" room as part of the basic build?

Quote:


Given that I didn't let the builder make money in this regard, what do you think of my chances of talking them into wiring the stuff myself? Who should I talk to for this (site manager)?

Your project manager should already be your best friend by now... He/she is the only one you should discuss this with at this point.

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I've read a ton of materials online and have been practicing with drilling 2x4s here and there.

What's your level of experience? If you haven't done anything like this before, and are on a short timeframe, you might reconsider having them do the work.

Quote:


I'm also considering the possibility, if they decline my request, to just go into shortly before the drywall is up and drill really tiny pilot holes in the top and bottom plates (where I want to place the outlet) and use a sharpie to mark them (as well as taking a lot of pictures with tape measures).

Drilling little holes isn't going to help you at all. Take lots and lots of photos and measurements instead. You'll want those for a whole bunch of possibilities in the future, trust me.

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Then I'll wait until I move in to finish the job. The only problem here will be how to get all the wires from the attic to the basement. Maybe I should have just paid $350 for the builder's future tube.

Yeah, have they already had the guys do the basic wiring? Get them to do at least that. If anything, pick the runs that will be difficult for you to do later (such as exterior walls, anything not accessible directly from an attic or basement), and pay them to do those. Note that even a 2" conduit is going to get filled up really fast if you try to do a whole floor's worth of wiring.

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post #3 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

So wait, they aren't already running at *least* RG6+cat5e to "most" room as part of the basic build?

Drilling little holes isn't going to help you at all. Take lots and lots of photos and measurements instead. You'll want those for a whole bunch of possibilities in the future, trust me.

Note that even a 2" conduit is going to get filled up really fast if you try to do a whole floor's worth of wiring.

Jeff

Yeah! What a ripoff! They offer free upgrade money that my wife spent on hardwood floors, raised vanity, and kitchen cabinets. Of course without her income, I couldn't quality for the loan, so that's fair.

I will take a boatload of pictures. The little pilot poles are exclusively for marking the candidate locations to drill later. I figure with pre-drywall access to the top and bottom plates, at least I should be able to easily mark the good locations, especially after builder-installed wiring is complete.

I figure a 2" conduit is enough for 3 RG-6 and 3 CAT6 cables as a minimum set. I have a total of 4 bedrooms upstairs, and the master bed has one of each already. The problem is that I'm not comfortable with a 2" hole in a 2x4, so my only viable option right now seems to be running the conduit (in the open) through a second-floor closet and a first floor laundry room. Sounds doable but not without some hassle and a lot of cutting.

It's probably too late to ask officially for that $350 conduit from the builder. I wonder whether it's even possible to talk the project manager into having one installed anyway. Doesn't sound very likely to me, but I'll try.
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-30-2012, 09:22 PM
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This is something usually beat considered before you make your initial offer to purchase. I had it written into my offer that I was to do my own home prewire. So now I have every right to do so, as long as I don't get in their way or create additional work.

Certain builders are extremely picky with things like that, some don't care at all. But they should be your best friends.
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post #5 of 13 Old 06-01-2012, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dankuz View Post

This is something usually beat considered before you make your initial offer to purchase. I had it written into my offer that I was to do my own home prewire. So now I have every right to do so, as long as I don't get in their way or create additional work.

Are you going to run any conduit through any top or bottom plates? How large a hole can they support before they need to be reenforced?
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post #6 of 13 Old 06-02-2012, 08:26 AM
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I'll throw my own experience in here, having just bought a new home 1.5 years ago and going through this..

(Mind you, I'm in Canada, so some things may be done slightly differently..)

When I asked my builder about adding a basement-to-attic conduit, they said $250.. even though it's worth nothing near that.. (more on that later) So I declined..

I've heard a lot of bad stories about going in and doing the pre-wiring yourself, simply because if you mess up their final inspection or don't do something to building code because you didn't know any better, it's them who will get hit with that, and that's just not worth the risk to many..

That said, you should go visit your home when you can talk to the foreman/project manager, without the builder's presence..

When we did our frame walk though, that was with the foreman/project manager and the builder rep. After it was done, the builder rep left, and I had a chance to talk to the foreman myself. I found that while he doesn't like talking to people (customers), he was very honest and reasonable as long as I was focused with my questions (and didn't seem to be wasting his time).

He said he could do conduit (top-to-bottom) for $100. So I said sure.. he also reinforced all my lighting fixtures incase I wanted to add ceiling fans later, for free.. (this would have been $100/location if I went through the builder)..

Anyway, back on topic..

I kept visiting my site after work hours to see the progress.. (apparently this is 'not allowed' because of dangers, risks, etc.. whatever..) I took maybe 400 hi-res pictures all of frames and studs without drywall, so I could plan where to drop my own conduits after the fact, with all the upstairs rooms going to the attic and all the main floor rooms going down to the basement. (Sidenote: these sort of photos are *gold* down the road when any sort of work needs to be done with the walls or floors down the road. Sidenote2: try and put a label into your photo at times.. there were some photos that were shots of the ceiling, and with no reference point, made it hard to tell what I was looking at..)

What I didn't consider, is how little room their would be in the attic to actually crawl and navigate around, never mind trying to drill a hole down inbetween the drywalls to add a conduit. A conduit which is still 6' long.. and if you can't stand up in an attic, and find the spot between the walls, especially with all the insulation there (loose, non-sinking fluff.. I forgot what it was called), think about how you're going to swing a 6' pole down into a small hole you made in the ground, while you're on your hands and knees (if you can't stand up, how is your pole going to stand up to go down into the hole?)..

Lesson learned.. if I buy another new home, I'll talk to the foreman and have them add all the conduits, going straight to the basement if possible. Three significant advantages - first, you only need 1"-1.5" pipes for each room, so you don't have to worry about big holes in your wood (actually should not be a problem anyway, but...); second, it can be done pre-insulation so you may be able to use your outer-walls, thus increasing your chance of getting drops straight to the basement.. though I don't know how the insulation guys would like this); third - you don't have to crawl through the attic.. ever..)

The only thing to consider is having wires dangling two storeys straight down.. would need to wrap them around something once so that the tension point of all the dangling cable weight is not on the ends of the wires..

Anyway.. that's my $0.02..
If you haven't gone through your framewalk yet, it should be pretty easy to get this done still.

hope it helps..
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post #7 of 13 Old 06-02-2012, 04:31 PM
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I lucked out and found an existing chase, associated with my fireplace.

Fiberglass fish rods are really useful, for conduit and retrofitting cable in general. I rarely use my fishtape.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #8 of 13 Old 06-02-2012, 05:00 PM
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Wiring after the fact is going to be a whole lot harder... Lots of reasons why the builder will not let people do their own thing including liability and insurance. I have heard of guys doing the wiring after work hours and on weekends as well. At the end of the day they are not going to not sell you house if you do something like this. But you might be opening yourself up to liabilities if something goes wrong. If you have a lawyer friend you might want to check with him.

What seems like a lot of money up front might not seem like so much 6 months down the line when you are trying to pull that wire or wires. Conduit is 10 times harder after the fact than wire. And if something goes wrong you have somebody to go to and get it fixed.
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post #9 of 13 Old 06-04-2012, 12:35 AM
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What about just have them lay-in the cables, you do the finishing.
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post #10 of 13 Old 06-04-2012, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions. I'll go talk with the project managers later; right now the foundation is not even poured yet.
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post #11 of 13 Old 06-04-2012, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldskool75 View Post

When we did our frame walk though, that was with the foreman/project manager and the builder rep. After it was done, the builder rep left, and I had a chance to talk to the foreman myself. I found that while he doesn't like talking to people (customers), he was very honest and reasonable as long as I was focused with my questions (and didn't seem to be wasting his time).

He said he could do conduit (top-to-bottom) for $100.

This seems like an interesting idea. I'll make sure I talk to mine as well. So how do you end up paying for this? Just cash to the manager?
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post #12 of 13 Old 06-06-2012, 07:38 AM
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How would these costs affect your mortgage payments in the end?? think about that, and also about the headaches you may run into trying to install everything yourself AFTER the drywall is up...

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post #13 of 13 Old 06-07-2012, 09:58 AM
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conduit for places that you may end up having to change the cabling later like your living room area if hdmi ever goes out the door or if you add another unit like receiver or new console you can always pull wire back up to the tv or drop a another cat 6 back to your MDS.

There are LOTS of building codes dictating just how large a hole or notch you can cut. The technical yet important rules are:
  • Holes in bearing wall studs (exterior and interior walls that bear the weight of the roof and/or other stories above) may not exceed 40 percent of the width of the stud.
  • Notches in bearing wall studs may not exceed 25 percent of the stud's width.
  • Holes in non-bearing walls can't exceed 60 percent of their width.
  • Notches in non-bearing walls can't exceed 40 percent of their width.
  • The edge of a hole must be at least 5/8 in. from the edge of a stud.

figure out where you want your drops then pull atleast 2-4 cat 6 cable to each room back to your MDS. Don't just pull one because you will always find that you may need more then one port. Don't want a ugly switch on your desk.
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