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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings all,


I'm looking for some general information for a house we are planning to build next year. We want to fully wire the house including wiring for future expansion.


Whole house A/V, Video

Security

Networking

Outdoor wiring for pool, spa, landscaping, entertainment

Low level lighting

Home theater/ Gaming rooms

Basically wiring to cover all bases.


Currently we have whole house insulation in a 2 story house with a slab foundation and no real crawl spaces between the floors. The attic is accessible but it's split into many different sections so you have to enter from different rooms. This is normal for our area so we will likely have in the next house which means we need to plan wiring upfront as adding it later is going to be a bear.


We won't have a basement so we plan to build a dedicated distribution closet. I know conduit is the best option for future expansion but how do you typically run the conduit for distribution INSIDE each room? Each wall, floor, ceiling?


If you don't know everything you'll want to install in the future how do you best future proof your wiring? If you expect to have a room with some sort of wiring on each wall, floor and ceiling then running all those lines of conduit is going to be a lot of work not to mention running the wiring. ;)


Do you need different conduit runs for different wiring runs? For example can you mix low lighting with any of the other systems?


Thanks to any that reply, your help is much appreciated. :)
 

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Hi Beth,


Fun project, a whole new house.


You are very correct about wanting conduit everywhere.

Things are moving quite rapidly in home systems integration industry and conduit is the safe way to ensure you can add wires to cover the unanticipated.


Best thing I can recommend is to find a good systems integrator and work with someone you can communicate with and trust.


Doing it yourself is a huge investment in time and energy. Nearly full time, trying to get all you subsystems correct. And that does not leave any time for the rest of the house!


That said, I think it clear that most of the systems (audio, video, lighting HVAC, security, intercom) will be migrating to IP based system over the next year. That actually makes integration much easier, but you do want an expert helping to chart the course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Buzz,


Thanks for your reply, we will certainly hire a professional. But we want to know we are getting a real professional and we need to understand what we really want so we can relay our desires besides just saying we vague want the house wired.


Our current house was a bit of a disappointment. We had to deal with the builder's subcontractors and the "whole house wiring" package they offer was a joke. We were willing to pay for additional work and did a full walk though with the subcontractor where we specified where we wanted everything and how we wanted it run. We even had the help of a nice fellow from the HT forum who lived in the area come and help us pick out the speaker locations for a 7.1 setup.


We waited and waited for a quote, finally we got one but it wasn't clear what exactly was in the quote. We tried to follow up only to find they changed contractors. Back to sq 1! We still had our copies of the paperwork but now the builders didn't want to allow us to specify anything. Grrr! Finally they agreed to let us do part of what we wanted. We gave them everything in writing including the wire guage we wanted use and how we wanted the panel laid out. (they got it all wrong) Not to mention we had to complete the installation as they only did the wire runs and many don't work because the drywallers sliced the cables.


Long story short, we want to know exactly what we want so when we talk to the contractor we'll know if he's a professional or just a smoke blower. Which is why we are trying to educate ourselfs and posting some questions here.
 

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Arrghhh,


I hate hearing stoires like yours. And I hear them literally every day.


You seem like you've lived and learned though!


Good contractors, like good car mechanics. are worth every penny they charge. And to me the definition of good is a combination of integrity and willingness to actually listen.


Ask away, there are a number of expereinced integartors here who are usually more then willing to help.


PM me if you would like help tracking down an instllaer in your area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's the nice and sometimes not so nice thing about buying a new house. Each time you learn something new and don't do it the next time.


On the good side I learned how to punchdown cat5 and how to crimp on plugs for good connections. I also learned it's really no fun at all to stare at a panel full of unconnected unlabeled wires and try to make heads or tails out of them. :rolleyes:
 

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So have you got a tool belt and a good set of RJ-45 crimpers?:cool:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
ROFL no to the tool belt but I have crimpers. I've installed more cable runs than I care to remember over the years and just about as many phone lines. This was the first time I did CAT5 wire though and had to buy a punch down tool for the panel side of the wire. Easy as can be when you get the hang of it.


I've decided in the next house I want a much larger panel or individual panels for each system. There are so many wires in our panel the cover doesn't even close.


I could have a lot fun turning all this into a hobby. :)
 

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Beth, I understand where you're coming from. I'm in the process now of having a house built for us. Even though it's a "custom" house, every time we ask for something custom, we either get questioned as to why we'd want that, no answer at all, or an answer that sounds like they don't really want to do that! Why call it a custom house if all you get is grief when you try to customize it?


Right now I know I want some form of HI&D, but probably not to the extent you are looking for. I've started a few threads seeking advice so far, and just found this one. I am also interested in the conduit question, as I may not be ready to actually install a system at this time. So the conduits would enable me to do it at any time.


Buzz, you mentioned asking you for installers in the area. I see you're in MA as well. So far, the only place I've been outside the forums is to my local Tweeter Etc. It seems like the guy there wants me to wire for more than I need... but then again, I don't know, so maybe not.


The problem I'm running into... and I'm waiting and waiting for an answer from the builder, is if he has an installer he uses. If so, I'm stuck working with them. Otherwise, I'm trying to find out if I can do the work myself, or go out and find my own installer. I have some experience with cabling from work (IS department), especially with LAN and phone. I already have the basics suqared away with my builder's electrician. He will install Belden "banana" cable (2 RG6, 2 Cat5e) throughout the house for me at no charge (I provided the cable). I'm looking at 1-2 drops of banana in each room, depending on room. So all that is left is the keypad/speaker/integraded audio stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sounds like you have a simicustom house. ;) Our current is a "tract" house (yuck) so we knew we'd be very limited with what we could do but since they advertised "whole house wiring" it was really annoying to find that meant not much more than 3 phone and 3 cable jacks and a few inwall crappy speakers.


We had a real hassle just getting the cat 5 which they advertise.


Our next house will be 100% custom, well as much as our budget, knowledge and codes allow. We are gathering as much information as possible so we'll be able to pass along exactly what we want. We plan to hire an architect for the design and probably someone like Dennis Erisken (sorry if I misspelled that) for the HT design and so on. We want it all professionally done. Most importantly will find a builder that is willing to build OUR house not what he wants to build.


Until we have a firm grip on what is available it's hard to know exactly what we want. We don't want to be on the bleeding edge but not to far behind.


I really recommend you take a little more than you think you want because if you later decide you want more it's nice to have the wiring in place for it. Which leads back to the conduit.


I know some of what we want and am slowly researching it. I don't plan to pick specific brands and models so much as in general we want X, Y and Z. It sure would be nice to have someone lay out all the options and we just pick what we want. :D
 

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Try www.cedia.org, www.lutron.com, www.crestron.com

Look for dealers in your area. CEDIA is the custom installation trade association but anyone is allowed to join who meets some very minimal criteria. Lutron makes high end lighting systems and my experience with these contractors leads me to the conclusion that, as long as they are A/V contractors and not electricians, you will find a solid professional who knows his business. Crestron is, well, Crestron. As it is the best control system it is often sold by the best companies. There are exceptions to the rule but these are good starting places; assuming none of your friends have anyone to recommend.


Alan
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by AnimEric


Buzz, you mentioned asking you for installers in the area. I see you're in MA as well. So far, the only place I've been outside the forums is to my local Tweeter Etc. It seems like the guy there wants me to wire for more than I need... but then again, I don't know, so maybe not.


The problem I'm running into... and I'm waiting and waiting for an answer from the builder, is if he has an installer he uses. If so, I'm stuck working with them. Otherwise, I'm trying to find out if I can do the work myself, or go out and find my own installer.
Certainly there are lots more installers beyond Tweeter, who is really only in the retail business.

When you find out who can do the work, contact me and I can ask my distributor who in your area is good. They sell to over 900 installers in New England.
 

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Beth,


I can totally relate to your story! I had the same thing happen to me. My builder's sub was a real joy. I never got a clear definition in writing as to what they were actually going to do. All of a sudden, you get the, "you didn't say you needed that" or "we didn't say we were going to do that".


It was awful -- I moved in and had no phone service, because I could not tell which of the God knows how many cat5 runs was the service run. Nothing was labeled and nothing was terminated. Keep in mind, I had 8 rooms using structured wire (4 Cat5e, 4 RG6QS), as well as, some stand-alone CAT5E & RG6 which the builder included. They never told me there was too much cable for the panel I selected and that I should probably go with multiple panels (I chose the largest Futuresmart QNP panel and it was quite an experience).


They never got information and estimates to me in time and I ended up having to install the panel after the drywall was up. This was a real problem, since I had to plane off about 1/4" of wall studs to be able to squeeze the panel into the wall. It was NOT fun!


I still have cables that I have no idea where they go. They came back a few times and broke this or that, not to mention made excuse after excuse -- I finally told them I would not let them back in my house.


But as you say, you live & learn! I bought the tools, read the websites and terminated, labeled, and improvised my way to completing the project. Of course, after I was all done .... I decided I wanted something different.


During this whole thing, I have learned one big thing you can never have enough CAT5 or RG6QS in each room . I have a good size house with some rooms having 4/6 cat5e & 4 cat5e. Everything was working and I decided, I really wanted multi-zone, multi-source. Well, it's been tricky and I'm not getting everything I want. But I'm about 90% there -- I did notice that I really should have run more cat5. Having done so, would have given me greater flexibility to add:


(a) whole house lighting system

(b) computer controlled thermostats

(c) second theater room

(d) more LCD Keypads at multiple locations


You can't have enough conduit.


Best of Luck!


hm



Quote:
Originally posted by Beth
Buzz,


Thanks for your reply, we will certainly hire a professional. But we want to know we are getting a real professional and we need to understand what we really want so we can relay our desires besides just saying we vague want the house wired.


Our current house was a bit of a disappointment. We had to deal with the builder's subcontractors and the "whole house wiring" package they offer was a joke. We were willing to pay for additional work and did a full walk though with the subcontractor where we specified where we wanted everything and how we wanted it run. We even had the help of a nice fellow from the HT forum who lived in the area come and help us pick out the speaker locations for a 7.1 setup.


We waited and waited for a quote, finally we got one but it wasn't clear what exactly was in the quote. We tried to follow up only to find they changed contractors. Back to sq 1! We still had our copies of the paperwork but now the builders didn't want to allow us to specify anything. Grrr! Finally they agreed to let us do part of what we wanted. We gave them everything in writing including the wire guage we wanted use and how we wanted the panel laid out. (they got it all wrong) Not to mention we had to complete the installation as they only did the wire runs and many don't work because the drywallers sliced the cables.


Long story short, we want to know exactly what we want so when we talk to the contractor we'll know if he's a professional or just a smoke blower. Which is why we are trying to educate ourselfs and posting some questions here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hopefully we'll be able to deal with good honest contractors the next time around and we won't have another horror story.


We are definately going the conduit route and we'll wire for more than we plan to need in the forseeable future. Never know what will happen down the road.
 

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Beth, I PM'd you a warning about an installer that might be in your area.

Quote:
Originally posted by Beth
Hopefully we'll be able to deal with good honest contractors the next time around and we won't have another horror story.


We are definately going the conduit route and we'll wire for more than we plan to need in the forseeable future. Never know what will happen down the road.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Got it, thanks.
 
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