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Building a Home - Where do I start?


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Hi All, 


Brand new to all this home automation wizardy, but really nerding out about it!


I'm (well a builder is anyway) building a home in 3-4months, 4 bedroom, home theatre room, kids play room and a focus on outdoor entertaining.


To be honest I'm at a loss where to start, I've done some googling found the various standards, zigbee, z-wave, insteon etc.

I guess what I'm looking for is some advice one where to start...

I know I want smart light switches, I've thought about smart power points and can't see much value (but happy to shown that my imagination is lacking)


What else do people find the most useful to automate?

Garage Doors, A/C...


What should I really do now while I'm building as it would be nigh on impossible to do once I've built?


Does it matter which standard I use? Seems like most hubs (e.g. ST) will support multiple standards?



My constraints are a relatively small budget ~$2K & I use a windows phone.


I know this is all very vague, but would appreciate someone either posting advice, or pointing me to a webbie that has examples/ideas etc. So I can start firming up my options.




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I use Windows Phone as well, Insteon and SmartThings are the only two hubs that support WP. I use SmartThings.

As I have been automating my home I think about, "what would I do if I built new?". Are you looking for automation or security or both.

As buying in quantity reduces prices, I think I would have every light switch be a smart switch. I think I would have at least one smart outlet in each room. Thermostat would need to be on the system. As would smoke/CO detectors. The first thing I put in was a water sensor near the floor drain in the basement. Garage door opener and door locks. Open/close sensors on doors. Ceiling fans.

Why? Safety and automation. I want my wife to push one button and have the garage door open, garage lights turn on door into house unlock, lights in kitchen turn on. I want the outside lights to turn on at dusk and off at 11pm. I want to be paged if water backs up in the basement. I want a text when my daughter comes in the house.

If you do not put in smart switches and outlets, be sure the electrician uses deep boxes. Smart switches and outlets are deeper than regular.

Think about what you want the system to do for you.

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Thanks for the response.


I'm primarily looking at automation, but basic security is of interest to me. Basically I'm a gadget geek who knows this will be awesome but hasn't quite worked out why yet!

What do you use your smart outlets for? I ask this so I can decide where the best spot to install them would be.


After your post my automation is beginning to take shape


Definitely in:

Thermostat/Garage doors I think are a must.

Open/close sensors (what do you recommend here?)

Ceiling fans (hadn't even thought of these, good call they are a must too)

Light Switches (throughout)


Maybe in:

Smart outlet 1x room (pending if I have some idea of what to use it for otherwise there is no point as I'll probably have it in the wrong place)


Retro Later:

Are smoke/CO detectors easily retrofit-able? I think these would drive the costs up significantly?

Door locks, I'm not sold on. Been reading about them and think they may not be quite there yet. The kwikset looks like the winner so far, apart from connectivity. Unsure if that would work with WP? I think doorlocks I should retrofit in a year or two.



What have I left out?

Movement sensors?

CCTV (but I think this is a retrofit option)


For anyone reading along at home, I found this article good to help break down this mountain of awesomeness into smaller chunks:


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Look at the new Ecobee thermostat. Some of the new garage door openrs have networking built in and a open close sensor. For window sensors I like these. They do more than just open and close:


For doors I like these, but if you have steel doors they may not work:


Generally ceiling fans are automated through the switch, I like these, but they are really pricey:


I have used GE light switches.

Smart outlets are easy to add later. Buy one to show the electrician how deep they are.

Smoke/CO come in AC and Battery so you can update later, but First Alert Z-Wave are $50.


I have Schlage door locks and I really like them, but they are pricey.

Water sensors are important even in a new house:


These are a great way to automate:


Presence senors are good to trigger automation as well:


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Thanks schoondoggy, the recessed door sensors look neat!


Not sure what I need a water sensor for, is this an issue in the US due to the cold cracking pipes or something? Haven't heard of flooding issues here in Australia (unless you count rivers flooding but I'm building on a mountain so I should be safe!)


I like the window multi sensors too, will be good for the kids rooms to ensure I don't overheat the little tikes.



appreciate the ideas. I'll post my final decision when I finalise it.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 month later...

Here's my list:

Use SmartThings
Ring Pro - Video Doorbell
Nest Cam Indoor & Outdoor

August Smart Lock & Keypad

Nest Thermostat

Nest Smoke Detector


+ Robotic vacuum is also a nice addition!

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Haven't heard of flooding issues here in Australia (unless you count rivers flooding but I'm building on a mountain so I should be safe!)



Umm yeh, have fun with smart home stuff in Australia. As you most likely know there are different voltages/frequencies and electrical safety standards in Australia so the imported stuff will not work, is not safe for use and will void your house insurance due to not being ESB certified.


What you may not know is SmartThings is not available in Australia, and what is worse is the Australian frequency bands for ZWAVE and other protocols (yes our 802.11 standards/frequencies are different to the rest of the world as well, here we actually have more of the spectrum available) are different to the US bands (and pretty much the rest of the world, we do have the same frequency band as Brazil, bonus!!!!!!)


Hate to put a spanner in the works, but that's how it is here currently.


There is a little ZWAVE stuff around, same a ZIGBEE but it is piddly and pathetic compared to what is available in the US market

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I use Windows Phone as well, Insteon and SmartThings are the only two hubs that support WP. 


I'm not so sure this is a puck I would skate to, (WP and hub choices) but regardless with your budget I would do a few things up front.  Consider prepping the house for automation and making sure it is wired up correctly.  That may give you time to let Microsoft clarify their mobile strategy if you truly want to pick a solution that is WP supported.


As Schoon said I would take his suggestion for deep electrical boxes to save you headaches in the future.  With that budget I would do CAT6 to multiple locations in every room.  Also, think about where you might put Wi-Fi Access Points.  Power and a CAT6 to there.  Double it up to the entertainment areas. Coax and a CAT5 as well.  That CAT5 can be used as telco wiring and repurposed if needed.  I wish my garage had a CAT5 running to it!


I would look around to see where you might want cameras and put power in these locations.  Outside and inside.  There are so many spots in my house that I would like to have a plug!  Consider areas that would be nice to have LED strip lighting as accents. Hidden areas, above and below cabinets, etc.  It's nice to have power available and a way to control it in the future with smart switches.


What harm would it do to run a CAT5 and some power to entry and exit locations around the house? In case a tablet type interface is needed sometime? 


I also used to recommend running speaker wire to ceiling locations and volume knob locations.  Run it but don't terminate it. If you or a future owner would like to outfit the home with speakers then the hard part is done.  Things have changed though with Sonos and other players but cable is relatively cheap.  I use an Echo Dot hooked up to my home speakers and we can start playlists by voice command.  Don't forget outdoor sitting locations for speaker wire and volume controls.  All of this highly subjective due to great product like Alexa, Google Home, and Sonos.

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