I gut renovated a house a year ago, but got turned on to home automation after the project was finished. Here’s everything I wish I had known before the project started.
Since you’re working with an electrician, be sure to talk to him/her up front about all of this stuff. Ideally, you will get a neutral wire in every switch box, and make sure the junction boxes are large enough for z-wave switches. Don’t skimp on either one of these things.
Seriously: you even need a neutral in the “remote” switch box of a 3-way switch. Be up front with your electrician about this. Show him/her a wiring diagram of your switches. Show him/her a switch so they know how big they are. This will save you endless headaches down the road.
The value of your home automation system increases exponentially the more devices are integrated. You’re going to get addicted to this stuff, so it’s good to plan ahead.
In my experience, metal junction boxes are not a big deal if you’re putting in lots of z-wave switches. My mesh is more than robust enough to handle the metal boxes.
Dumb switches are super cheap. Dumb dimmers are actually quite expensive. Dumb fan controls are also quite expensive. Smart z-wave switches, dimmers, and fan controls are not really that much more expensive than dumb dimmers or fan controls. Do not buy any dumb dimmers or fan controls! Just buy smart z-wave ones. Installing a $0.79 dumb switch now to save a few bucks is fine. Installing a $20 dumb dimmer switch now, only to replace it in a year makes no sense.
Definitely get the Aeon recessed door sensors. That’s the only way to go. Your carpenter can install them when he/she is installing your doors.
I have two Nest thermostats, and I love them. They qualify me for all sorts of rebates through my electric company. For example, I get paid about $40 per year to let the electric company adjust my AC up 1 or 2° about 3 days per summer. And I can override the adjustment with no penalty.
I would never buy a thermostat that cannot be integrated. It is a huge energy saver to have the HVAC system integrated. For example, when my downstairs motion sensors detect a period of no motion (meaning we are all upstairs), they set my downstairs thermostat back. Since you are zoning your system, you should absolutely do the same thing. If you don’t want to go with Nest, go with Ecobee. Also, Honeywell’s app and thermostat UI are terrible.
Blinds are expensive, even when they are dumb. I wish we had spent the extra cash for motorized blinds on the south side of our house. If you have any skylights, get them there also. Closing the blinds when you are out of the house and also overnight are big energy savings. Plus, they’ll protect your furniture and floors from UV.
You’re going to want motion detectors in every room, trust me. Plan for it now. There are a few ways of running power to them, or you can use battery powered detectors if you don’t mind changing batteries.
And finally, run Cat5e everywhere! I have it in my living room, basement, my office, and in all bedrooms. I wish I had it in my kitchen and my detached garage too. We use our wired network to extend our WiFi network, and also for TV and music over Airplay.