Building new house - Looking for ideas

I’m in the process of designing our house that should break ground end of this year. It’s going through a home builder but I will do all of the low-voltage wiring, they are cool with it. House is about 3600 sq ft, two story. Here’s what I’ve got down for the basics so far. Much of this mimics my existing house, but was done over the years as needed with lots of cat5 ran under siding, through attic, etc. I want to have as much as I can think of done before the sheetrock goes up. Any ideas or criticism are welcomed!

  1. Smartthings v2 hub. Already have it in current house, will move over to new house. Works great, no complaints.

  2. Wall switches will be GE Z wave where needed, maybe some Z wave outlets where needed as well. I have a lot of switches in the current house that I plan to take them with me and re-install. Will have electrician pigtail a single neutral and cap it in each light switch box for future install of switches.

  3. Smart thermostats, two zones. Currently using two nests that will probably stay at the current house. Thinking about Ecobee4?

  4. Cat6 to rooms as needed, two runs to bedrooms, 4 runs to game room, 6-8 runs to living room, etc. Including the outside cameras, I’m quickly filling up a 48 port patch panel. Yikes! I’ll have either a single floor mount server rack or maybe split into two smaller wall mount racks to separate ethernet and whole house audio. Cable modem, router, switches, NAS box, Camera PC, etc will be in the rack as well. Coax runs may be installed in one of the racks or might do a wall mount structed wiring box next to it. Maybe this can share the same box as the alarm system? All of this is going in a large closet in my upstairs office that will have a door to access the attic and will be ventilated.

  5. Cat6 run outside for PoE cams, looks like 8 total (standalone system, currently using Blue Iris and will most likely stay with that)

  6. Thinking about disabling the Wi-Fi radio on my router and installing two Ubiquiti access points, one upstairs, one downstairs.

  7. Hard wired alarm contacts at each window and door. Need guidance here, not sure what to go with. Don’t want proprietary system, ie ADT. I’ve seen ELK talked about a little? Would not mind some sort of touch screen interface for alarm and ST integration? Might be overkill…

  8. Speaker wire to specific rooms for whole house audio. Been looking at HTD Lync system, would have about 10 zones. This would likely be future, but would probably go ahead and install the speakers in the downstairs room so I’m not fishing around in the ceilings for cables. Upstairs would have attic access to install speakers, only 2-3 rooms would get them anyways.

  9. Future media room planned with a projector and 7.1 sound. Builder will frame it in and I’ll finish it out later. (house already over budget)

Wow! This sounds really exciting and I wish I would have done all of this when I built my house 4 years ago.

One thing that I know I would for certain do is this.

Find a central location in the home, possibly on the ground floor. In the space between downstairs ceiling and the upstairs floor create a small compartment that is big enough to put in the SmartThings hub. Run power and an internet connection to that spot.

This lets you put your hub in the absolute center of your house, optimally giving you the best possible coverage for all of your devices.


Sounds very exciting! :sunglasses: Just be aware that Any security system based on any smartthings model other than the ADT/Smartthings security panel Depends on a combination of the SmartThings cloud and the Internet for its notifications.

Smartthings can and does push out hub updates Which will take your hub off-line for a little while, anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours. Historically there have been a few of these each month. You can neither refuse nor delay these updates. During these outages, you can’t even change the armed status of the security features. And you won’t get any notifications.

All of which means if your security system is based on any smartthings model other than the ADT/SmartThings Security panel you are basing your security system on something which will definitely be off-line some of the time. That’s not what I would put my own security or smoke detector monitoring on, Which is why I, like many other community members, use a separate security system.

The ADT/smartthings security panel does have its own cellular communications to the monitoring center, so it is much more like a typical purpose built security system. Which is why if you click on security on the SmartThings website now all the links take you to that specific model.

You may have already been aware of all that, but given the extensiveness of the project you’ve described, it would be pretty unusual to choose smartthings as your primary security monitoring, so I just wanted to mention it. :sunglasses:

BTW, The company agrees. See the official product usage guidelines:

Data accuracy and consistency from SmartThings sensors, including those provided by SmartThings directly, resold by SmartThings, or supported by SmartThings, is not guaranteed. Therefore, you should not rely on that data for any use that impacts health, safety, security, property or financial interests.


BTW, if you’d like to see some project reports from other community members who have done entire houses, you can check the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki, look down near the bottom for the project reports section, and choose the “whole house“ list. Might give you some additional ideas. :sunglasses:

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In addition to your hard-wired window and door contacts, I would recommend adding some pre-wiring for a few more devices:

  • Motion detectors (to tie in with an alarm panel OR to at least supply power to eliminate the need to change batteries in Zigbee/Z-Wave devices)
  • Wall mounted Tablets - for running dashboard solutions like ActionTiles. Having wiring in the walls will allow you to power these in a clean looking manner.
  • Consider using wall outlets that also include USB power ports strategically placed throughout the house where it would be convenient to charge phones, tablets, etc…
  • If using ceiling fans, determine how you’d like to automate the fan and light, if desired. GE Fan switch and GE Dimmer make a nice combination for an in-wall clean look. Just be aware that fans are getting smarter too, and may not play well with traditional methods of automation.
  • Garage door opener ? Look for models that are easy to integrate, if that is on your wish list. Again, these are getting smarter as well, and traditional automation methods don’t always work well with new devices.
  • Under and Over Cabinet task and accent lighting. Always nice to have wiring in place for these lights, even if you don’t install them from the get go.
  • automated window shades? Having low voltage power wiring near the windows would allow a nice clean way to power these devices, again removing dependence on batteries/solar chargers, etc… You might be able to combine the wiring for shades with wiring for window contact sensors. Just run a higher count multi-conductor cable to each window and split the wiring out for shades and contact sensors.
  • As for Cat5/6 wiring to the various rooms - more is better. Now is the time to run the cables and label everything. You only need to terminate/punch down the cables you decide to use.

Since it is a clean slate, you may want to consider Lutron’s offerings for lighting, fans, shades, etc… I have been pretty impressed at how my Lutron devices ‘just work’ all the time, and very quickly. I am now using Hubitat as my main hub due to the local processing and native Lutron integration via Telnet (requires a minimum of a Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge Pro for the Telnet interface to work.)

Sounds like a really fun project. I would love to be able to wire a new house before the drywall goes up! Good luck and have fun! :slight_smile:


You might consider running low voltage DC power (5v?) to the windows so you can hardwire automated blinds.


I like the idea of centralizing the hub. My first thought was to stick it in the server rack, but the network closet is top floor far side of the house. I’ve planned for 8 runs to the family room TV and will stick the hub there. I’ll already have a small UPS there to plug into and it’s about as central as I can get.


Thanks guys, good feedback! I’m pretty excited to get this house done. I (and even the wife) very much want another smart house. We’re spoiled by what we have already, and I only want more but just trying not to go too overboard.

On security, I don’t want ST handling the security. For this I want a standalone system, but if it can integrate into ST for status updates and maybe remote arm/disarm (when ST is active) that would be cool. We have an ADT system now and I have no real complaints about it. It’s cellular based, hard wired 1st floor doors and windows, and works just fine. We have basic keypads in 3 locations, but too many times I am laying in bed and see that the alarm isn’t on. It’d sure be nice for my lazy bum to stay in bed and arm from my phone rather than walk the 10 steps to punch the button. I mean, I can turn the lights off with Alexa, why not let me be lazy with the alarm. LOL. But yes, I only want these as secondary to the main system. Still need physical panels at front door, garage door, and master bed.

I’ll definitely be doing some 4 conductor wiring for motion detectors and smoke alarms. Glad you brought that up, need to add to my list so I don’t overlook it later.

I’ve gone back and forth on wall mounted tablets. I’ll at least run some cat6 behind the walls and note where it’s at. Tablets would be nice for ST and Whole house audio control. I looked at a Samsung fridge the other day that had a built in tablet, that was pretty cool.

Ceiling fans would also be wall switches, have a few GE fan control switches now and they work well.

Also have the GoControl/Linear garage door controller, also works well and will stay on that path.

Under cabinet lighting is being taken care of by the electrical contractor. Thought about going RGBW LED here, but no need to make this complicated. All lights will be on a smart switch and I’ll automate them to come on at night.

Still researching automated shades. May be overkill for us, but might run some wires just in case.

I think I’ll probably end up with three 24 port patch panels. All things considered, they are cheap and if I terminate everything I run from the beginning, patching in devices won’t be a big deal later on. 48 ports would probably be enough, but I have the space so why not. Just remembered my shop that will be built behind the house, need to plan for a conduit for a couple cables for an access point.

I’ll also look into Lutron. I’ve been happy with ST/GE combo but not opposed to change. I have about 15 GE switches already.


Hey Morgan, how did everything turn out in your house? what did you end up going with for security?