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Ask Slashdot: Ideas For a Geek Remodel? 372

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget-the-robot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "What would you do to 'go geek' if you had a major remodel on your hands? My wife and I are re-modeling my in-law's 3000 sq foot single-level house, and we're both very wired, tech-savvy individuals. We will both have offices, as well as TVs in the bedroom and dining room. My question to the community is: What would you do if you had 10-20,000 to spend for this kind of remodel project? What kind of hardware/firmware would you install? I'd love to have a digital 'command center' to run an LCD wall-calendar for the family, and be able to play my PS3 from anywhere in the house (ie, if everyone wants to watch Netflix while I'm in the middle of some Borderlands). What else have geeks done/planned to do? This is a test run for a much, much nicer house down the road, so don't be overly afraid of cost concerns for really great ideas. We will be taking most of the house down to studs, so don't factor demolition into costs. For culinary-minded geeks, I'd love any ideas you have to surprise my wife with cool kitchen gadgets or designs."
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Ask Slashdot: Ideas For a Geek Remodel?

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  • by suso (153703) * on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:22AM (#41796191) Homepage Journal

    Invest in a good voice recognition system and write some regexes that will detect your name in various contexts and alert you if they are leaving their house to come over to yours.

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:47AM (#41796325) Homepage

      Remember Rule 1 in remodels:

      A poorly planned remodel costs three times as much as originally budgeted.
      A well planned remodel only costs twice as much.

      • by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:36AM (#41796659)
        That's pretty accurate, but you forgot to mention that the estimated time for project completion will be about 50% of the actual time needed for project completion...
        • by hardie (716254) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:49AM (#41796771)

          One more--if you're doing the work yourself, it will take anywhere from 2 to 10 times as long as a real contractor would take. This is why their pay grade is higher than yours (in contracting...). The quick estimate is to take the contractor's wage (say $60/hour) versus your "skilled" labor at $10: it will take you six times as long.

          Next, add in the effects of only working on weekends (if so), and not being in shape for a full day of serious hustle contractor labor...it takes even longer.

          I am a dedicated do-it-myselfer. I don't mean to discourage, but go into this with eyes open.

          Steve

          • by vthome (21702)

            Here's a counterargument: yes, it'll take you 2 to 10 times as long as "real" contractor would take. However, the quality of the work is defined by *you*, and you *can* afford to take time and utilize a proper process that takes time, instead of a shortcut (just one example: use correct glue instead of "5 minutes curing"). A contractor won't be coming back a day after to finish the job - it'll mean two trips for them, lost time, lost income. You are, however, right there.

            One of my horror stories, with lots

    • by Xacid (560407)

      I was wondering if it was a classy way of saying "we live in her parents' basement?

      Given another post here though - a large chunk of the cost will get eaten up with the usual supplies (paint, flooring, misc repairs, etc). Maybe get a couple wall mounted flat screen TVs or a projector? I don't know honestly - it'd really depend on what you want. I mean...if you're a geek...be geeky and come up with your own projects.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:22AM (#41796197)

    Star Trek living-room.

  • System under glass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:25AM (#41796207) Homepage Journal

    The #1 thing I've always wanted to do is put the whole entertainment system behind glass and give it muffled fans and intake filters. I'd really like to eliminate every little bit of noise finally, even the TV has a hum to it. And then there's the dust, which could be all but eliminated by using the right materials for building the enclosure, and the use of the aforementioned filters. I'd give it its own system for control of temp and humidity too, since that's relatively easy if you have all the other parts.

    • by TWX (665546) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @11:03AM (#41796893)
      That's fairly easy to do with a simple closet off to one side with a tinted glass or plexi door. I actually use a 5' telecom cabinet that was designed with some fairly nice wood paneled sides. Friends of ours have a pseudo wine fridge for their large collection of reds in the form of a closet with an AC duct into it. You could combine these, add a baffle to close it off in the winter from the heat, and have such.

      I would suggest multiple Cat6a ethernet cables to each room. Two per wall, and if a wall is particularly long, possibly more sets. I would pull four into each entertainment center, and pull them in behind where each of the kitchen appliances goes, into every curio cabinet, where the laundry is, where the hot water heaters and air conditioning units are, and even to where the doorbell is, though that last one might remain unterminated in the wall. The beautiful thing about four-pair twisted pair wiring is that it can be used for not only ethernet and computers/appliances, but for telephones, intercom systems, security cameras, and all other manner of low voltage devices. Pick a nice closet as the concentration point and be sure to label everything so that you can figure out what it all is later. If you're feeling adventurous, put in conduit for all of this ethernet cable so that it can be upgraded or added to later. Probably 3/4" or bigger given the size of Cat6a. Yes, I know that everyone carries on about wireless, but wired really is the way to go for anything high bandwidth, like when all of the TVs are on and streaming different content at the same time.

      Consider putting single-mode fiber in too. That could be a bit pricier though, and my guess is that it would be less essential than the copper.

      In each room that will have any chance of having an entertainment center, put 2" conduit from the entertainment center location to the rough middle of the ceiling, terminate the conduit in doublegang boxes. That'll be for video signal cables. Or use a triplegang box at the entertainment center end and run eight speaker wires- front left, front center, front right, rear left, rear center, rear right, side left and side right. That way you can use a 4 way, a 5 way, a 6 way, or an 8 way surround sound system without having to change the cabling.
      • by peragrin (659227)

        instead of just pulling cat6 through the walls go ahead and install 1/2" or 3/4" conduit to each location where you might want Network or Cable TV. Star everything to a central location.

        That's where your network equipment goes. all of it.

        In the future you will be able to easily replace all the cables to the then current standard.(remember cat5 while still being installed only lasted 15 years before it started to be replaced by other things)

        this way you can replace all wires and equipment as you upgrade re

  • Unrealistic budget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aranykai (1053846) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (resnogls)> on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:28AM (#41796223)

    As a general contractor, assuming you are doing things(paint, flooring, maybe light fixtures and blinds) to the entire 3000 sq ft, your budget that remains purely for tech is going to be approximately zero. Its doubtful that budget would even allow for much of a kitchen/bath update depending on what part of the country you are in.

    • by IdolizingStewie (878683) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:54AM (#41796381)
      I have to think that given that budget, what he means is this is what we have left over for tech upgrades. At least I hope that's what he means.
    • As a general contractor, assuming you are doing things(paint, flooring, maybe light fixtures and blinds) to the entire 3000 sq ft, your budget that remains purely for tech is going to be approximately zero. Its doubtful that budget would even allow for much of a kitchen/bath update depending on what part of the country you are in.

      Not if they do most of it themselves. I've redone the floors, moldings, painted, replaces lights and door hardware for less than 4000 in my 1000 sq ft condo. Once you start talking major appliances it gets much harder to save money, but cutting out labor saves a ton of money and you'll learn some useful skills.

    • That was my question too... is that budget just for tech? (In which case, it's fairly modest) Or for the entire (to the studs) remodel? (In which case it's ludicrously low, even if they have "free" labor from all their friends.)

      Another thing that bothers me, they say it's their "in-laws" house... Are they not the owners? Are the owners onboard?

      • O.o

        I'd love to know what kind of upgrades you have in mind that a $20,000 budget for tech is "modest". In my book, that kind of budget, devoted solely to tech upgrades, is enormous.

  • Kitchen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:30AM (#41796235)

    Faucet over the stove.

  • Ethernet! (Score:5, Informative)

    by DogDude (805747) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:30AM (#41796239) Homepage
    Lots and lots of Ethernet ports. Wireless is insufficient for the True Geek.
    • Re:Ethernet! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Auroch (1403671) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:36AM (#41796267)

      Lots and lots of Ethernet ports. Wireless is insufficient for the True Geek.

      Well, it's not a bad idea. The wiring can be done in a way that you can thread other things when ethernet is no longer fast enough.

      Though, if you're going to do that - why not send all the cords to a central part in the house, and install a command centre there? You can use it to re-direct connections, spy on internet usage, selectively disable (or re-route) certain wires ...

      • Ok, Ethernet's fine too, but what you really want is some 1-2" conduit to a central location, so you can easily rewire the house with whatever kind of wiring you need decades down the road, if anything's still using wire. Maybe it's for audio, or fiber for something, whatever, but you won't really know. Expect that somebody in the future is going to want to put the TV/stereo/whatever on the other side of the room from where you want it, and run conduit there too. And make sure there are enough electrica

    • Lots or Ethernet ports AND WAPs! Wired may be unnecessary for lots of applications (gbit please) but wireless is unnecessary for lots of applications as well and good reception is a must.

      • by swalve (1980968)
        Right. Don't forget to install cat5 and an outlet to a couple of high locations for wireless access points. Just like they used to install outlets above the sink for clocks.
    • Re:Ethernet! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:11AM (#41796493)
      And to add to this, redundant tubes. So if one day you decide to switch to glassfiber, extra speakers, or something, you don't have to break up all the wall's again, just run them through those tubes.
      Or alternatively you could have all the tubes, valves and wiring neatly side by side running in plain sight at the ceiling, color-coded, and labelled , just like a sub-marine. Then have a "command centre" with the whole system, flowrates, temperature's, power-usage per socket a and other measurements at your finger-tips.
      http://image.yaymicro.com/rz_1210x1210/0/499/inside-a-submarine-4993d2.jpg
      Or maybe not if you go for cosy :-)
      • by vlm (69642)

        And to add to this, redundant tubes. So if one day you decide to switch to glassfiber, extra speakers, or something, you don't have to break up all the wall's again, just run them through those tubes.

        They've got a ranch so just make the basement ceiling accessible (acoustic panels or whatever) and fishing thru uninsulated inside walls is no challenge. Insulated walls are a slight challenge but not too bad.

        If you've got 2 stories then the upper story gets wiring fished thru the attic.

        If you've got 3 stories then I donno. Suffer I guess.

        • by NEDHead (1651195)

          depending on the location, a ranch may have no basement. Attic is still an option, although getting to side walls is difficult. Running PVC conduit up (or down) the wall to an accessible location is cheap & easy.

    • I heartily second this. Our house was built with a central cable box and cable in every bedroom. If I had had a hand in building that, it'd have been Ethernet instead. This is probably one of the cheapest "upgrades" you can do once a house is taken down to stud boards, since the cable is cheap on a spool and the end clamps are a dime apiece in bulk. Then just install a commercial grade router to run DHCP for your dozen net drops.
      • speaking of this...are there any devices that can convert OTA signal to an IP signal that can be sent to boxes throughout the house? I want to move to OTA but do not want to deal with RF networking and signal degradation when pulling from one antennae.

  • An other Home Automation tech. It will have meaning to them, save them money, and does not cost too much these days.

  • Lighting automation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by beernutmark (1274132) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:32AM (#41796251)
    As soon as we moved into our new house I replaced all the switches with an Insteon system and an ISY-99 controller. I absolutely love it. Being able to turn off all the lights in the house from the bedroom is great. I can put the kids lights on timers, see if any lights are on, have the sprinkler system turn on per water need (connected to weatherbug), setback the thermostat automatically when we leave the house, have a night kitchen run scene, etc....

    A DIY friendly system and the programming language on the ISY is easy to use and quite flexible.

    I have been very happy and wish I had done it on the old house.

    #2 favorite thing (actually probably #1 but it is not really a remodel item) is a whole house Sonos system. The perfect audio sync and ease of listening to anything anywhere in the house is great. I used to be a developer for GiantDisc (which still has the best cataloging system available anywhere) but the Sonos ease of use and perfect audio sync won me over.
  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:38AM (#41796277) Homepage

    Since you've asked for a true geek solution it is necessary to get out of that immobile structure with it's permanent address and accompanying tethers to "the man". Get yourselves into a geek-pimped Class A motorhome so that you can live off the grid as much as possible. A strict observance of anti-surveillance protocols will be a must, including burner phones. Keep them guessing which Wal-Mart you'll camp in next, and have fun wardriving. Field-strip your gear regularly and don't leave anything behind anywhere. Destroy this message. Good luck.

    • Except this is for the inlaws. Personally I would just rig lots of Ethernet to every room (two or three points in different walls) plus plenty pull lines to every room, make sure that every room has heaps of power points (any three or four metre square room needs at least eight points, two in each corner), and insulate the hell out of the place.

      With power and connections everything else can come later if needed.

      Also, solar on the roof.

  • by bleh-of-the-huns (17740) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:40AM (#41796289)

    And let your in-laws decide what they want..

    More to the point, anything too advanced you install, you will have to support...

    • by malakai (136531) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:50AM (#41796349) Journal

      My wife and I are re-modeling my in-law's 3000 sq foot single-level house, and we're both very wired, tech-savvy individuals. We will both have offices, as well as TVs in the bedroom and dining room.

      Am I the only one scratching my head on this? Are they doing this for his in-laws? Why would they both have offices at her parents house? Is it their house now? Why call it her parents? Did they not pay for it?

      Put a digital clock in each room, call it a day, and invest the money in a high yield bond, until you can afford your own home.

      • Perhaps the parents are moving to Florida?
      • by PNutts (199112)

        Agreed. "TVs in the bedroom and dining room". My mom had a TV in the bedroom and living room since the early 60s. For the sarcasm challenged, she is not tech savvy. And I don't thin being "wired" by watching movies and playing game consoles is something to brag about. By that definition my seven year old is wired. Definitely a slow Sunday.

  • An unusual idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:42AM (#41796297)

    I know that you said this in the abstract, but I'd really avoid having a TV in the dining room if I were you. Not to sound too much like a 1950's stereotype, dining is a social occasion, and dining together is a good time to talk. Have a TV in your office/den and if you're having a lazy lunch etc, take the food there, but try to have a clear space to have dinner together and you'll find it really encourages conversations.

  • Get this thing for a thermostat [nest.com]. It's kinda awesome.
  • Especially if your house is big enough to require more than one air conditioning system, it's convenient to have them on a network. Not necessarily so you can control them from the Internet, but so you can control them all from one place and turn them off when nobody's at home, to save energy.

    Of course, once you have them under digital control, you could add things like schedules and remote monitoring.

  • Comms and power (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:53AM (#41796369) Homepage

    An adequate supply of CAT5 (or CAT6, really, it's getting cheap enough) and mains sockets in every room.

    I'd also look at ecological heat and power measures - wind and solar power, solid-fuel stove and a ground-source heat pump.

  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:54AM (#41796379)

    It's a matter of personal taste, of course, but I'd keep the TV out of the dining room and spend the money on something else. You need a place to get away from information overload.

    We've declared our dining room to be a screen-free zone-- no TV's, laptops, iPads, smartphones, whatever. It's the one room in the house where we sit, eat, and converse as a family.

    I find the half hour or so when people aren't checking Facebook, tweeting, playing minecraft, checking their calendar, etc to be pretty refreshing. It's amazing what you can find out when you ask a kid how their day was.

  • Kitchen advice. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:55AM (#41796389)

    Layout and work flow are key to a great kitchen. Fridges that have cat5 and lcd screens are essentially toys. Spend your money on quality cookware and utensils that are commercial grade.
    Think about little things like;
    how do I cool stuff down efficiently,
    what is the best convection equipment that I can afford.
    Where do I rinse vegetables?
    Is there filtered water and how well can I clean oversized pots. A pot sink is a better alternative to a double shallow!
    Get a small commercial salamander oven that can top brown ...not a cheap toaster oven.

    Don't spend your money on toys!

    Above all set it up so that more than one person can work in the kitchen at a time without having to worry too much about stabbing each other! Your wife will love you for that much more that all the geek toys you can stuff into a kitchen now a days.

    Sure put a sit down bar away from the prep area where you can have a laptop or whatever and put sound in the kitchen but by and large all this is secondary to a well thought out design and quality equipment!

    I am a cook and know what really matters in food preparation.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      I totally aggree with that.

      I only cook as a hobbyist, and clearly kitchens tend to be poorly designed. One typically does not need any "toys" in there. At most leave an area where you could put a tablet in a position confortable enough to read while cooking, everything else is pretty much useless.

      A common problem I see in kitchens is that there is no good way to evacuate the steam/smoke/fog that comes out of the cooking. Put a damn window in the kitchen or a really good ventilation system!

      If you put high ca

  • Outlets! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yotto (590067) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:00AM (#41796423) Homepage

    Power outlets every 3 feet.
    Network outlets every wall.
    Cable and phone in every room.
    10 years from now they'll call you and say "Remember when I said I didn't think I needed a power outlet in the closet? Oh man thanks for insisting!"

    • Yeah, this.

      Except that you don't need phone cables, 'cause the ethernet can deal with it. Oh, and lots of pull lines. Like heaps.

      And solar on the roof. And insulation. Wait I already said that. I should have read the thread before commenting...

  • Bionic Fingers! Awesome!
  • by ka9dgx (72702) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:11AM (#41796487) Homepage Journal

    I'd put some big conduit and wiring ducts across the house, with drops in every room. This way you can pull whatever cables, fiber, etc. you need.

    Why are you remodeling someone elses house?

  • by PPH (736903) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:16AM (#41796527)

    By the time you get your CAT 6 cable pulled, it will be obsolete and you'll need CAT 7. Or 8. Who knows?

    Put in wall boxes, pull boxes and some 3/4" conduit runs to a central panel/server location. Then, whatever happens, you can yank the old stuff out and put new stuff in.

    For the kitchen, put in a couple of extra 20 Amp circuits (two general purpose circuits are required by code).

    For the rest of the house, separate the lighting and outlets on separate circuits. Code (and cheap electricians) allow these to be fed off the same branch circuit. Bu there's nothing more annoying than plugging in something and having the lights go out as well.

    Extra lighting in the master bedroom if you like to share videos with other couples. Some of this amateur stuff is pretty poorly lit.

  • ... then put smurf tube _everywhere_. you don't know what wiring you'll actually want where, but putting in the tube now will be a huge help. When I had all the walls in my house open, I made sure to put smurf tube runs, pull boxes, and low-voltage outlet boxes everywhere I thought I could possible want _something_. Years later, I'm still going back and actually running wire through them, on a strictly as-needed basis. It's nice to be able to run a new cat5e run directly from my basement rack to a 2nd f

  • $10-20k is your budget?

    Seems pretty small unless you're doing all your own labor or your own your own contracting company...

    A kitchen remodel alone is going to run you between 10-20k... Since this is your inlaws house, why not ask them what they want in it? Do they want to play PS3 in any room of the house? Doubt it. Maybe they want a up to date kitchen with high end appliances? Or they want to rip out all the carpet and put in new hardwood floors with new molding and remove all the linoleum in favor of

    • A contractor-grade kitchen remodel is going to run $30k if you do everything yourselves. A nice kitchen remodel is more like a $50k+ project. You can do a kitchen remodel for under $20k if you don't count any labor, but it means very pedestrian appliances and disposable-grade cabinets.

      I think if their budget is $20k, stripping the house to studs is going to result in an unfinished house that is unsaleable. I'd be willing to bet they drop close to $1000 in roll-off rental and tipping fees at the landfill, an

  • This is out of your remodel budget, but it's a possibility for future new construction. Consider room-by-room zoning:

    http://www.getemme.com/room-by-room/index.php [getemme.com]

    This system places a small, discrete wireless thermostat in every room, which provides two advantages:

    * Each room can respond separately to room-specific demands, eliminating hot and cold spots in the house.
    * Different rooms can have different temperature programs.

    We have the older version of this system (MyTemp) and we love it. It's not cheap, but

  • One thing I can't stand is in-your-face electronics. Save that for the Epcot Center exploration exhibits.

    With 10-20k - even doing it all yourself - you're really just looking at finishes. New floor covering, new paint. If you're handy, bathrooms might be an inexpensive target with new vanities/fixtures/toilet (hint:Toto). The kitchen is pretty much out. Look at your lighting - is it sufficient? Is it economical? Is is pleasing? Look at colors, window treatments, and accessories.

    This is where you will live

  • Unless your inlaws are rich they will appreciate you creating an energy efficient house. You could think about solar of some kind, but more fundamentally if you are want things like LCD screens as photo frames you need to get the most efficient ones you can.

  • If you're doing a down-to-studs remodel of a 3,000 square foot house, what kind of house are you planning for your "much, much nicer house down the road"?

    I live in a 65 year old house that's less than half the size that went through a similar remodel - including completely rewiring and replumbing the house to get rid of the old knob-and-tube wiring and galvanized steel plumbing, and I can't imagine what else I'd want in a house, so I'm curious what someone sees as a "much, much nicer" house than a completel

  • Every house needs a serious series of tubes.

    Think of it - you could send a sandwich from the kitchen to the den. You could send the mail from the office to the front door. Route laundry and garbage to their appropriate destinations.

    Why send electrons when you can send atoms?

    (Example, there are lots of others:)
    http://aerocom-usa.com/profitability/where_to_install_pneumatic_tube_systems.shtml [aerocom-usa.com]

  • For a 3000SF house, stripped to the studs, I'd recommend about $50/SF minimum for a rebuild if you're going to do it all yourselves. Maybe $80-100 if you have someone else doing the heavy lifting.

  • Seriously, have you priced stuff at all? Unless you are going with cheap, Walmart brand televisions, your TVs alone can eat your budget.

    DON'T TAKE IT DOWN TO THE STUDS!!! I was in a house for 10 years that needed some repair work. The first thing I did was take off the wood paneling in one of the rooms almost as soon as I moved in. Bad mistake - I bought the sheetrock, but hanging it was another issue. Then you have to texture. Oh, and you will probably have to put in new insullation. Took me forever to get

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:45AM (#41796735) Journal
    Touch screen computer built into the wall with Internet access. Bookmarks to recipe websites, Food network, and a calendar/planning system for keeping track of food inventories. A small printer to print out labels for foods. Also, iTunes or Pandora, and a good 5.1 speaker system set up throughout the kitchen.

    More counter space than any one person could ever possibly need - or so you'd think. Two stoves, two ovens (one convection.) A central island with a bar on one side. A large dry pantry. An entire wall cabinet dedicated to storing cooking dishes. Two refrigerators. A deep freezer. A microwave oven that doesn't have an LCD interface left over from 1985. (Good lord that pisses me off. $350 for an over-the-stove microwave, and the display still only handles 8 characters at a time. What the hell, Maytag?!)

    Proper track lighting overhead, and recessed lighting under the top cabinets. One counter taken up by a giant chopping block cutting board. Good tile floor, not linoleum. A comfortable rug in front of the main stove. A proper tile backsplash behind the sink. That new no-touch on-off faucet I've been seen commercials for that basically predicts whether you need the water on by your body language.
  • by MickLinux (579158) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:47AM (#41796753) Journal

    I would have easily removable wainscotting for access to the walls, and lots of conduit allowing whatever room-to-room connections I might need later. I'd model it on hospital setups, but go cheaper:I'd use luann paneling for the wainscotting, for example.

  • Wire the shit out of the place.... you can never have too many power outlets, ethernet jacks, speaker ports, or coaxial cable outlets. Run everything you can through conduit so you can future-proof the place and run additional wire when needed. Don't daisy-chain the outlets if you can help it. Run everything to a central utility room that's large and well ventilated enough to hold all of your backend computer shit. Don't just shove it into a closet, give yourself some room to move.

    Put in recessed lights and

  • Don't forget about lighting, and some of the REALLY cool things you can do with LED's.

    For about $25 (US), you can pick up 16 foot reels of bright LED RGB lights (30-60 LED's/meter). They come with remotes, so you can control color, brightness, effects, etc.

    I've done some very cool access lighting in strategic places around the house, and it's pretty awesome.

    The low-hanging-fruit, of course would be in the kitchen with under-cabinet lighting. It's even cheaper with one-color (white) LED's... It t
  • If you live in a mansion like this, pay someone to put the system in.

  • Make sure that you read up on all the building codes or talk to an inspector for the below.

    1) A 2-3" conduit from top to bottom. Possibly two depending on the number of wires you will be running which depends on the number of rooms on each floor. Don't forget to fire stop and steel plate the floor/ceiling studs.
    2) 1" electrical (grey PVC) conduit in each room, including garage. Top floor goes to attic, and bottom floors go to basement. If no basement, all conduits go to attic. Same regs as #1
    3) Drop a

  • Let me repeat that, plan you lighting before you start. Again - plan you lighting before you start. If your electrician wings it and makes mistakes it is almost impossible to fix.

    For example high end lighting in a dining room might have:
    1) chandelier
    2) halogen cans over table
    3) halogen cans around sides of room
    4) art light aimable cans
    5) cans over buffet furniture.
    6) tray lighting in the ceiling

    Do you really want six dimmers in the wall of the dining room? No. What you want to do is remote all of those dimm

  • I wired my house with 30 pin cables and now I have to rip it out and pull 8 pin cables.

  • If you're handy with programming, you can do a lot with a few Raspberry Pis.

    Currently, I've got a Pi setup as a dedicated video player for the big LCD in the den. It's running OpenELEC and networked via a WRT54g running dd-wrt (which doubles as a wireless range extender), so it can play media from any other networked device in the house. Plays full 1080p HD wirelessly and flawlessly.

    I have thought about doing something similar to what you mention with the family calendars. I still have some details to wo

  • I did it at my own house. It doesn't cost nothing extra, it is just your imagination on what to do with your bricks.

    And one day I hope this is going to be visible from space;)

    http://imgur.com/a/rkQpO [imgur.com]

  • Secret passage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c++0xFF (1758032) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @11:58AM (#41797285)

    Since you're going down to the studs anyway, find some place to put in a simple secret passageway. You know, for the kids and grandkids.

    Look for dead spaces in the walls. It can be as simple as going from one closet to another. Try to connect to the crawlspace, maybe.

  • by MinistryOfTruthiness (1396923) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:56PM (#41798995) Homepage Journal

    In light of the approaching hurricane, and during heavy rain in general, I like to make sure my sump pump is keeping up (I live in an older house). Rather than continually going down to check on it, I installed a WiFi IP Camera in the room pointed at the pump. That way I can check on it periodically from my phone without actually going in there. Of course, infra-red LEDs are a must on such a setup, but they come with most cameras anyway. To generalize, cameras wherever you might want to monitor the state of the house. This would be separate from security cameras.

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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