High Tech Home on a Budget – Intro

Working with an architect to design and build a new house may seem like a daunting enough project. Now let’s add on top of that, the fact that I am an IT professional, and I love using the latest and greatest technology. You can imagine my wife’s concern when I open my mouth during meetings with the architect, as she starts to see $$$$ signs flying out of my mouth with every word. I can’t blame her, I could easily double, triple, quadruple the cost of the house with fancy A/V and home automation gear. That’s where the hard part comes, figuring out how to get some of the useful and cool technology into the house now without breaking the budget. If you plan on building a house in the future, adding technology to your current house, or are just curious how this turns out, keep checking back. I will take you through my process of planning and building a high tech home on a budget.


Step 1: Come up with your initial wish list

Mine started out with the following

  • Wired network drops in every room (used for network access or possible centralized A/V distribution in the future)
  • A coax cable in the same wall plate as the network drops for TV access. Do you really want your cable or satellite provider installing one later if your forget? They always want to drill holes through the exterior of the house.
  • Central music distribution for all of the common areas in the house, garage, and outdoors.
  • Security and home automation control.
  • Lighting control for certain areas of the house.
  • A central network rack where all of the network, coax and speaker cable would terminate and a location to put my servers, A/V, and network equipment.

Step 2: Figure out what you can’t easily do later

Depending on where you live, and the design of your house this step may be simple or it may be excruciating. In my case, it’s definitely the later. The first two houses I have lived in have both been single story homes with an attic. Anytime I wanted to run cable for a new security system, or needed a cable TV or network drop it has been fairly “easy” to add. This house will be a lot different. It will be 2 stories and doesn’t have an attic… let’s add one more thing on top of that; in this area of the country houses don’t have basements. Any cables I want to run are going to have to be added before the drywall is put up, and once they’re in, they’re in.


Check back soon for more!