Wow - So much good information here and so many factors I did not even consider. I am truly thankful for your response and that i posted this topic now (the builder has not broken ground yet), so I have plenty of time to do additional research and make additional changes that would help out long-term. I have bookmarked this post and will almost certainly end up purchasing the receiver and AMP you suggested. I do have a few follow up questions:
So that receiver looks like it has 11 speaker inputs on the back, which would seem like It would already support 7.1.4. DO i connect the AMP to it just to give the receiver more power than it can get from a standard power cable?
Since it sounds like you are on a budget, are you open to DIY for some options?
I am not very handy at all; however, I think doing this could be a fun project. Thank you for the links. As far as the screen goes, I had been looking at Elite Screens and Silver Ticket (just because they seem well reviewed on Amazon). It seems like I could get a decent screen in the $3-400 range. Do you think a DIY screen would end up being better than those options?
Run any wiring that you think you might ever need before the walls are finished. For example, while I only run 7.4.4, I pre-wired for 9.4.6 in case I ever want to run more speakers. Cables are easy to run now and pretty inexpensive to do, but after the fact are difficult and more expensive to do.
So this is where I might have a bit of a problem. The builder I'm using will not allow anyone but their people run surround sound wiring before closing. They only charge $150 for 5.1, which makes me worry that they are going to use cheap cables and probably not do a very good job. I may see if i can request that they purchase specific cabling - Is there one that you would recommend? Also, I will have full access to the ceiling top, and right side of the room after construction, as that is all unfinished space. So that may make it easier to run wiring after the fact (atleast in the ceiling)
Decide what you want to do for soundproofing now? Are you doing double 5/8" type X drywall with Greenglue? Soundproofing can add cost to the project, but it is something that you need to think about how important it is or isn't to you as it's hard to do after the fact.
I had not even considered soundproofing but that is a fantastic idea. I am sure I could ask them to do double-drywall (not sure what the cost would be. However, I'm also not entirely sure what would actually be necessary and where. Here is the basic builder floorplan for my home.
My wife has to get up super-early for work and I am a night-owl, so I often watch a movie when she goes to bed ("Owners Suite" downstairs). I had been planning on just getting headphones, but perhaps soundproofing would allow me to still watch a movie (with the sound lower and subwoofer) off without disturbing her. Because of the unfinished space upstairs, there will be insulation on the top and right walls of the bonus room. Will that help with soundproofing, or would I need to do double-drywalls there, too? And what about in between the bonus room floor and 1st floor ceiling - is there anything I should suggest the builders install there? I know nothing I do will be perfect, but I'd like to do whatever I can (as economically as possible) to get the most bang for my buck for soundproofing. For example, if it increased costs by $10K, but only reduced sound by 5%, that would not be worth if for me. But if it were less money with a greater reduction in sound traveling throughout the house, then that would be worth it.
Run Ethernet to where your equipment rack is going. You'll want that instead of WiFi for streaming 4K. (In fact I'd run Ethernet to every room in the house)
The builder will already run Ethernet to all the major rooms, but I had not really considered where my equipment would go. I've always just had a console under my screen to hold the equipment. Is there a reason it would be advisable not to do that here? If so, I could easily put equipment in the unfinished storage space (perhaps even behind the top wall where the screen will be). Would there be any concerns with having the equipment in an area that is not climate-controlled? It certainly gets very hot in the summer where I live and cold in the winter. It obviously would not be as harsh as being outside, but still.
Run conduit from your projector to your equipment rack. One day you may need to run a new cable to your projector and without a conduit, it's a big ordeal.
I will definitely do this if I go with a standard ceiling projector, but I have actually been thinking about getting a short-throw projector like the Optima P1 - it looks sexy as hell and I like the idea of not having a projector over my head - I have read that projectors can get quite noisy and detract from the viewing experience. Do you have thoughts on these? Thank you!