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Before the sheetrock goes up -- pre-wiring, HVAC, etc.

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for suggestion for things I should think about before my new house is built, things that are easier and cheaper to do before the sheetrock goes up, or any other cool ideas for a house that aren't hugely expensive -- we're already spending enough as it is!

The floor plan is pretty much set at this point, building permits have been obtained, and in the next week or work on the foundation should begin. Nothing too radical can change.

Things I'm already planning:
  • CAT-6 for gig Ethernet to most rooms. I'll have wi-fi too, but it's still great to have fast wired connections.
  • Dual RG-6 coax, which will support either cable TV + rooftop antenna, or the dual coax used for dual-tuner satellite boxes.
  • Even though I think I'll be dumping DirecTV and going back to Comcast cable, so I can do real Tivo with CableCARD, I'd like to pre-wire the attic for a future possible satellite dish and rooftop antenna.
  • It almost seems old-fashioned now, but plenty of wired telephone jacks.
  • Pre-wire for AC power and HDMI in the middle of the ceiling of my home theater, in case I decide to do a front projector, and pre-wire for surround sound speakers too.
  • Central sucking (what I like to call central vacuum).
  • Adding a humidifier/dehumidifier to the central forced air heating/cooling system. (One coworker warned me, however, that she'd heard stories from friends who'd ended up disconnecting humidifiers because of mold growth problems in ductwork.)
  • Our builder will put in some sort of home security system as a standard feature, but I've never researched such things enough to know if I'd want to enhance the default system or not, or just leave that as-is.
One thing I won't do: pre-wire for multi-room audio using speaker cables. I used to love that idea, but Ethernet is a much better way to distribute audio now, and video too.

Three things I'm considering:
  • Running fiber optic cable if it's not too expensive. I might not bother installing any optical jacks now, just leave the fiber behind the wall near the wall plates for the RJ-45 Ethernet jacks.
  • Some sort of home control system for lighting. I don't know much about this yet, however.
  • HEPA filters -- another thing I don't know much about now, how expensive or effective home versions are, but our current house can get pretty dusty and we have two cats and two rabbits, so there's a lot of fur in the air sometimes. The central vacuum should help keep dust down more than regular vacuum cleaners, however, or so the advertising claims say. Maybe that's enough, without special air filtering.
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Peter came out and gave us medals
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post #2 of 42
Why not run conduit large enough to remove and pull wires? What you want now, someone will want to pull out 20 years from now and replace. That would cost some money!

Power your closet. We put a closet system in front entry with drawers. Now I wish I had power to charge the iPhone, iPod and laptops that get put there.

I work with a lady that has like a 2 inch pipe in the roof to the attic for sundry cables and what not. Keeps the installers from drilling holes wherever they want. One thing I hate about my house is that whenever an installer needed to get from outside to inside they just pulled out a drill and made a hole. (The previous owner was a f*%@ing moron.)

My wife hates central vac'. I don't think she's ever owned a house with it though.


We have one of those laundry chutes that is tucked in the space of the wall. We love it. If you're careful you can get almost anything down it.
post #3 of 42
How about solar water-heating and photovoltaic panels on the roof? Or will that make your neighbors accuse you of being a pot-smoking hippie?
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post #4 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sammi jo View Post

How about solar water-heating and photovoltaic panels on the roof? Or will that make your neighbors accuse you of being a pot-smoking hippie?

I'd love to do solar heating and power, but it's still way too expensive for me -- unless you know of something that's cheaper than what I've heard of. If eventually I can afford it, all I'd have to do is convince a majority of five other households in a small six-home association.

We are doing what we can to improve the efficiency of the house, with 2x6 exterior walls, paying a few thousands extra for better insulation, double-pane windows (those I think might even be required by code at this point), and an updated HVAC system that will easily be more efficient than what we have in the current house.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #5 of 42
Thread Starter 
We're already planning outlets in most of the closets, and recharging things was one of the considerations.

Two closets are actually going to function as "pet bathrooms" for the cats and rabbits, with pet-sized doors for the pets, and larger doors for human access for cleaning.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #6 of 42
one suggestion i have is to insulate the bathrooms and laundry rooms. it helps keep the sound from the washer/dryer and the "human" sounds in the rooms. its an inexpensive upgrade and you will notice the difference.
post #7 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicFingers View Post

one suggestion i have is to insulate the bathrooms and laundry rooms.

There's a good idea. I'd thought a lot about sound deadening for the room I'll be using as a home theater, but I hadn't thought about that. Better than a deliberately very noisy fan for masking noises.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #8 of 42
A friend recently built a house and insulated ALL interior walls as well as the floor space between 1st and 2nd floors.... talk about a quiet house! ...
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From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that!" -...
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post #9 of 42
Multi-room beer tap.

No?
post #10 of 42
Dumbwaiter! And a secret hallway to another room with a door behind the book case, of course.
post #11 of 42
Why not just forgo walls and run the cables underfoot?
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post #12 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hardeeharhar View Post

Why not just forgo walls and run the cables underfoot?

Now there's an idea... a terrible idea that I won't use, but an idea nevertheless.
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Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #13 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

Now there's an idea... a terrible idea that I won't use, but an idea nevertheless.

psh, it ain't terrible until you try it... and then report back here to tell us how terrible it is...

:-)

what you really need is the doors from star trek -- imagine wooshwooshing through every room...
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post #14 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hardeeharhar View Post

what you really need is the doors from star trek -- imagine wooshwooshing through every room...

There are a few pocket door in the plan, but alas, they are completely manual and whooshless.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #15 of 42
Interesting thread. I myself am building a townhouse at the moment. I don't have the customization options you do, but having built one other home, I'd say this:

You don't need most of the things you listed, nor would I advise spending the money on them. The exceptions are:

Humidifier (A/C acts as a dehumidifier)
HEPA
Projector/theatre wiring (don't forget speaker locations)

Phone jacks are basically obsolete, and there's no reason to have house-wide ethernet with today's wi-fi performance. I would also not recommend central vac. It's really a pain in the ass dragging the hose around, connecting it to different outlets. Better off spending the money on a nice Rainbow cleaning system (the absolute best thing out there, bar none in my experience).

As for power outlets, I believe today's code is every 8 feet of wall space. Putting in a few extra and determining exactly where they will go may not be a bad idea.

This is a custom home, I'm assuming. Is there a builder, are you contracting it, doing some work yourself, etc?
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post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mydo View Post

Why not run conduit large enough to remove and pull wires? What you want now, someone will want to pull out 20 years from now and replace. That would cost some money!

I was going to say the same thing. Make sure all the wiring can easily be redone whenever you choose to do it. Conduit or even removable wall/floor panels set so that you can rewire yourself and re-arrange. You might one day change the location of you main home computer and will want to easily be able to redo the wiring. Cable types also change; ten years ago there wasn't any HDMI.

Yea, do the toilet as well. Here in Japan, where space is a premium, there are actually people who have small desks built in to the toilets that drop down and have a mobile computer or such; actually met a high school boy who preferred studying in this space to his bedroom, which he shared with two brothers. Another family re-did their toilet after the kids left for college and made space for a home server (after disconnecting the water pipes!). Honestly, you never know.

Is 24-hour ventilation standard in the US/elsewhere? Our apartment has a system that has in-vents in several rooms and a single drawing fan that helps bring fresh air into the apartment. Some people create a pre-heater (or cooler) that uses the out-going air to slightly warm. Supposedly this is healthy, and it lets you go away for days at a time and return to a fresh-smelling home. If it isn't already in the plans, it can be added rather easily. We live near an active volcano so I added filters outside to prevent ash from being sucked into the apartment (and my computers). I use a HEPA-style filter that also blocks pollen and other stuff; just cut it down to size.

Air filters are great, but make sure they have ionizers and then heavy dust and such will drop, allowing you to vacuum it easily. New ones have dust/odor sensors that pump up the fans when needed. We have a small one in each room and can honestly say they work: I haven't had a single cold since we installed them.

Passive solar is a great energy saver.


On security, what is the neighborhood like? That will determine your level. Most important is lighting on the exterior with sensor lights; the price of cameras has also dropped appreciatively, so you can grab a few of those if you want; I would suggest one for the front door so you can easily see what idiot salesman is standing out front. There are also now wireless home systems that work really well. Related to security but also for your safety, sensor lights inside are good, too. You can come home and the entrance hall lights up automatically, or the hall infront of the bathroom, whatever. As they also turn off automatically, you do have to worry about leaving them on while you're in Hawaii for the winter.

 

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Your = the possessive of you, as in, "Your name is Tom, right?" or "What is your name?"

 

You're = a contraction of YOU + ARE as in, "You are right" --> "You're right."

 

 

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post #17 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Humidifier (A/C acts as a dehumidifier)

Sort of, but a dedicated dehumidifier can save energy for you by making the air more comfortable at a higher temperature. With my current lack of a dehumidifier I often find the AC makes the air a little uncomfortably cool by time it gets comfortably dry enough for sleeping.

Quote:
Projector/theatre wiring (don't forget speaker locations)

I've been thinking about having a dedicated home theater room for many years now, and finally being able to do really good speaker placement -- something very hard to do in the typical living room or family room -- is one of the biggest reasons for having the dedicated room.

What I haven't decided yet is if I'll splurge on a really good front projector right now, and if I use front projection, whether I'll do an acoustically transparent screen with the center channel placed behind it, or go for a more typical higher-gain screen with the center placed below it. I might just do a 72" rear projector at first. The room is designed so that there's an equipment closet behind the front of the room, and a rear projector can be recessed into the wall so that it's flush to the wall like a flat screen -- only much, much cheaper than a flat screen of the same size.

Since I'll have a 15'x24' room, it's hard to resist the idea of going for a 100" diagonal screen. But besides the cost for a good projector (like this Sony), I'm still not sure I'm happy about the picture brightness I'd get with a front projector on a screen that big, especially using the lower gain acoustically transparent screen.

Another reason I might hold off on buying a front projector now is that I'd like to see how far LED technology might go as a light source in front projectors. Samsung has gotten some pretty good results using LED for rear projection, LED is much more energy efficient than incandescent projector lamps, and LED gets rid of the problem of replacing those lamps.

The Sony I really like (from what I've read in reviews -- haven't seen one in person yet) uses a lamp that costs $1000 to replace, and is only rated for 1000 hours of service.

Quote:
Phone jacks are basically obsolete, and there's no reason to have house-wide ethernet with today's wi-fi performance.

Wi-fi certainly isn't as good as gig ethernet for moving large files, and I routinely do back-ups where wired speed makes a HUGE difference, even over 802.11n.

Quote:
I would also not recommend central vac. It's really a pain in the ass dragging the hose around, connecting it to different outlets. Better off spending the money on a nice Rainbow cleaning system (the absolute best thing out there, bar none in my experience).

Are those things heavy? I wouldn't mind myself, but I don't do most of the vacuuming. She who does would rather drag a long hose than a heavy vacuum cleaner. We'd end up buying three of these to have one on each floor.

Quote:
This is a custom home, I'm assuming. Is there a builder, are you contracting it, doing some work yourself, etc?

We have a builder. We found someone who was creating a small six-unit development, who was willing to take one of their standard plans and do quite a bit of customization for a great price. For only a few thousand dollars extra, for example, the basement is being built a full foot deeper to give us better ceiling height for the theater, which will have a raised platform in the back section.
We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
Reply
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

Are those things heavy? I wouldn't mind myself, but I don't do most of the vacuuming. She who does would rather drag a long hose than a heavy vacuum cleaner. We'd end up buying three of these to have one on each floor.

I love my Oreck!
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

Sort of, but a dedicated dehumidifier can save energy for you by making the air more comfortable at a higher temperature. With my current lack of a dehumidifier I often find the AC makes the air a little uncomfortably cool by time it gets comfortably dry enough for sleeping.

I've not really heard of people doing that. For one thing, you're going to need a blower unit for it to function. You might as well just turn the A/C on low. Think about it..you're only going to need it in the summer. That is, unless you buy a standalone one for the basement, if applicable.

Quote:


I've been thinking about having a dedicated home theater room for many years now, and finally being able to do really good speaker placement -- something very hard to do in the typical living room or family room -- is one of the biggest reasons for having the dedicated room.

What I haven't decided yet is if I'll splurge on a really good front projector right now, and if I use front projection, whether I'll do an acoustically transparent screen with the center channel placed behind it, or go for a more typical higher-gain screen with the center placed below it. I might just do a 72" rear projector at first. The room is designed so that there's an equipment closet behind the front of the room, and a rear projector can be recessed into the wall so that it's flush to the wall like a flat screen -- only much, much cheaper than a flat screen of the same size.

Since I'll have a 15'x24' room, it's hard to resist the idea of going for a 100" diagonal screen. But besides the cost for a good projector (like this Sony), I'm still not sure I'm happy about the picture brightness I'd get with a front projector on a screen that big, especially using the lower gain acoustically transparent screen.

Another reason I might hold off on buying a front projector now is that I'd like to see how far LED technology might go as a light source in front projectors. Samsung has gotten some pretty good results using LED for rear projection, LED is much more energy efficient than incandescent projector lamps, and LED gets rid of the problem of replacing those lamps.

The Sony I really like (from what I've read in reviews -- haven't seen one in person yet) uses a lamp that costs $1000 to replace, and is only rated for 1000 hours of service.

It really depends on your budget. You don't need to spend $15,000 on a nice projector. For $5,000, you get one hell of a 1080p unit. But really, if you're going to spend that much, you might as well buy a nice 72" DLP or what not.

Quote:


Wi-fi certainly isn't as good as gig ethernet for moving large files, and I routinely do back-ups where wired speed makes a HUGE difference, even over 802.11n.

I understand that, of course. But do you really need to wire the house for it? How often do you transfer large files? It's not a big cost, so whatever. I just don't see you using it, unless you're doing a shitload of transferring daily.

Quote:


Are those things heavy? I wouldn't mind myself, but I don't do most of the vacuuming. She who does would rather drag a long hose than a heavy vacuum cleaner. We'd end up buying three of these to have one on each floor.

They are about like other vacuums. They are on wheels. I sold them part-time in college--one of the reasons was how good the product was. It is the best vacuum, hands down. You put water in the bottom of it, which acts as a filter. It never loses suction, and can double as a mini-wet vac. It literally cleans the air as it runs. They're not cheap, mind you...they run about $2500 or so. But in terms of comparing with central vac, you could get one for upstairs and one for down.

Quote:


We have a builder. We found someone who was creating a small six-unit development, who was willing to take one of their standard plans and do quite a bit of customization for a great price. For only a few thousand dollars extra, for example, the basement is being built a full foot deeper to give us better ceiling height for the theater, which will have a raised platform in the back section.

Nice. The last home I built was with a medium sized developer in a 200 house neighborhood. Their were options, but not much customization. The current developer I have is more flexible, but I'm not doing much differently. I'm moving the kitchen counter-island back 12" to give more fridge space, having some decorative pillars removed for more space, adding a deck (12X20...for free), etc. It's only a 3 bedroom townhome, but it's going to be nice and perfect for my needs.
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post #20 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

What I haven't decided yet is if I'll splurge on a really good front projector right now, and if I use front projection, whether I'll do an acoustically transparent screen with the center channel placed behind it, or go for a more typical higher-gain screen with the center placed below it. I might just do a 72" rear projector at first. The room is designed so that there's an equipment closet behind the front of the room, and a rear projector can be recessed into the wall so that it's flush to the wall like a flat screen -- only much, much cheaper than a flat screen of the same size.

I would go the route of a less expensive 100" FP setup if you have a dedicated room. Or even a mixed use room. Which is what I did.

The performance of a inexpensive 720p projector is quite good now even if you don't want to pony up for the 1080p Sony.

Quote:
I'm still not sure I'm happy about the picture brightness I'd get with a front projector on a screen that big, especially using the lower gain acoustically transparent screen.

Go for a higher lumens 702p projector if you intend on sports as well as movies. Even with good lighting control watching sports in the dark is odd. And my wife always wants a light on anyway for reading even while I watch movies.

Quote:
Another reason I might hold off on buying a front projector now is that I'd like to see how far LED technology might go as a light source in front projectors.

You can likely do a 100" FP for the cost of a 72" RP and you wont have a big hole in the wall.

However, if you have the space back there, consider a 100" RP using a mirror system and a short throw projector.

Quote:
Wi-fi certainly isn't as good as gig ethernet for moving large files, and I routinely do back-ups where wired speed makes a HUGE difference, even over 802.11n.

Just run CAT6 vs telephone wire. And the conduit idea is best of all. Run Cat6a if you can afford to.

You know solar is a good investment if you plan on staying longer. The cost of building it in now is a lot less than getting the financing later to install one.
post #21 of 42
I agree with vinea, don't put in separate telephone wires. When I had my house built 12 years ago, I had CAT5 cable installed (in conduit) with dual RJ45 ports in all rooms. These are all connected to a pair of 32 port RJ45 patch panels. This way I can reconfigure any port in the house for LAN, ISDN or analogue telephone. The patch panels sit in a small 19" rack along with router, switch, firewall and ADSL modem. I have never regretted this decision. It only takes a couple of minutes to change the use of any port in the house. Two sets of eight ports in the patch panel are are tied together for telephone use. The wireless base station can then be set up anywhere in the house. I also have 2 RJ45s in the garage.

I increased the number of power outlets by about 25% over what was in the original plans.

I also had additional plumbing installed to two locations; the loft for a future bathroom as the kids get older, and the basement for a kitchen if we decide to convert a few rooms to a rentable apartment.

I also recommend taking pictures of all the wiring and plumbing before the walls go up. This can be useful if you ever do remodeling later.

We have central sucking. Think about where you will store the hose. I wish I had built a small closet just for its storage. It hangs in the laundry room now and isn't very convenient.

I also wish I had a water storage for rain runoff from the roof. The garden could use it during dry spells.
post #22 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilt View Post

I agree with vinea, don't put in separate telephone wires. When I had my house built 12 years ago, I had CAT5 cable installed (in conduit) with dual RJ45 ports in all rooms. These are all connected to a pair of 32 port RJ45 patch panels. This way I can reconfigure any port in the house for LAN, ISDN or analogue telephone.

I was definitely planning on a patch panel. If you're using RJ45 ports, do you need some sort of RJ45->RJ11 adapter for use with a standard telephone? Maybe I'm not being imaginative enough, but it seems to me I'd be pretty happy with one CAT6a cable plus one 4-conductor phone line, each terminated with RJ45 and RJ11 jacks, respectively.

Quote:
I also had additional plumbing installed to two locations; the loft for a future bathroom as the kids get older, and the basement for a kitchen if we decide to convert a few rooms to a rentable apartment.

We're only two people living in this house, but we're going to have five bathrooms, four of which you can take a bath in. It insane. The top floor has dual master suites, each with their own bathroom. Those two bathrooms have their own shower stalls, but share a jacuzzi tub between them, Jack-and-Jill style. I guess I'd call that two 7/8 baths.

With the top floor, ground floor, and basement each having a "public" bathroom, that gets us up to five bathrooms. Crazy, but it's only costing a few thousand dollars extra and the end result will be awfully convenient, and all the bathrooms will be a good selling point if this house is every sold to a bigger family.

I specified an extra pocket door in the floor plan of the top floor which will allow a guest in our guest room to close off public access to the other bathroom, making the guest room and bath a small private suite.

Quote:
We have central sucking. Think about where you will store the hose. I wish I had built a small closet just for its storage. It hangs in the laundry room now and isn't very convenient.

It would $800 per hose I think (not sure of the exact pricing), so I don't know if it's worth the expense considering we'd need at least three of them, but there's a cool retractable hose system that can fit into a 2x4 wall cavity.
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #23 of 42
Thread Starter 
I'm wondering if I'm going to make our builder's head explode when he sees the drawing below.

I hope we're not trying his patience too much with all of our design tweaks. I didn't want to suggest any more floor plan changes at this point. Nothing has been built yet, however, so I want to make this suggestion while I can, even if it's a crazy idea, and even if it comes a little annoying late in the planning process.

I started thinking about two-piece rear projection instead of front projection, but the challenge has been finding a high-quality projector with short enough a "throw" to create a big picture with less than five feet of throw being available, which is all the throw I could get from behind the screen in the previous floor plan.

Since a short throw hugely limited projector choice, and/or meant smaller screens or expensive tricks with adapter lenses or mirror systems of unknown picture quality, I decided to play around with the idea of simply creating a bit more throw room:



The change I made was to add a "projector alcove" to the equipment room of the home theater. The alcove would end up underneath the front porch, and I don't know if this would introduce any big structural challenges or not. I also made what I call the "equipment closet" 6' deep, up from 5', which makes the theater proper a little smaller, but still leaves it a good size.

I may not go as big as an 8'-wide screen (that's 110" diagonal for 16:9) at first because of the trade-off between screen size and brightness. Since I'm picky about color quality I'm thinking about using a Sony VPL-VW200, which is a great projector but a bit shy on total light output. Cheaper but brighter alternatives seem to suffer a lot from inaccurate color, at least from the reviews I've read.

It's very hard to find many projector demos of different brands locally so that I could judge for myself in person what's going to satisfy me for picture quality.

By the way, thick walls with good acoustic insulation, plus heavy doors with weather stripping, are being used to help sound-proof the theater. Even though the theater is in the basement near the furnace and other utilities, it should be very quiet.
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Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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Peter came out and gave us medals
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post #24 of 42
No adapter is required for the RJ11 into RJ45, they just use the center contacts of the RJ45. I kept all wall mounts RJ45 for the flexibility.
post #25 of 42
Thread Starter 
I'm hoping that a head-on view of the minimum projector alcove I'll like to have will help make the idea look less daunting that perhaps the original overhead floor plan view might have done, so I just e-mailed him the sketch below. I've also told the builder I'd be willing to pay up to $5000 for this modification, because it's easily worth that for the wider selection of less expensive projectors and screens that will work for me if I can have 12' of throw to play with.

This sketch represents the 15'-long section of foundation wall at the back of the equipment closet. The light blue outline represents the maximum 8'x4.5' screen size that I'm planning for, traced through from the theater wall in front of this wall.



This must be painfully non-metric for all of the non-Americans on this forum, except the Brits and some of their other former colonists.
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post #26 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

I'm wondering if I'm going to make our builder's head explode when he sees the drawing below.

Yes. In reality you want a 5x3 window with a box built around it that's weatherproof and has power, cabling and ventillation. Don't forget those. Plus it will be a bear to install your projector in there. Rails perhaps.

Make sure the opening is big enough not to clip the projected image.

Quote:
I started thinking about two-piece rear projection instead of front projection, but the challenge has been finding a high-quality projector with short enough a "throw" to create a big picture with less than five feet of throw being available, which is all the throw I could get from behind the screen in the previous floor plan.

Many japanese projectors have short throw lenses. Many of the high end projectors have both long and short throw lenses.

Quote:
Since a short throw hugely limited projector choice, and/or meant smaller screens or expensive tricks with adapter lenses or mirror systems of unknown picture quality, I decided to play around with the idea of simply creating a bit more throw room:

The 1st surface mirrors used for this are high quality. Of course, they cost $7500 for a 106" set (including screen fortunately).

Quote:
I may not go as big as an 8'-wide screen (that's 110" diagonal for 16:9) at first because of the trade-off between screen size and brightness. Since I'm picky about color quality I'm thinking about using a Sony VPL-VW200, which is a great projector but a bit shy on total light output. Cheaper but brighter alternatives seem to suffer a lot from inaccurate color, at least from the reviews I've read.

In a RP scenario I think you can go 110" if you can tolerate a little gain (and resulting smaller viewing cone). Remember that in this scenario it's transmissive rather than reflective and you have good light control. Room reflections will impact black levels far less and also have less impact on the image in general. It wouldn't be quite as much a push as in a FP setup.

I'd get a less expensive model than the VW200 and plan on decreasing your update cycle by half (whatever it is you're planning). It's still a $15K+ projector and 2 $7K projectors likely means far higher performance for 2nd half the lifecycle and reasonably close performance for the 1st half.

DILA/SXRD and LCD has seen massive improvement in the last couple-three years. Neither seems topped out or slowing.
post #27 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

Yes. In reality you want a 5x3 window with a box built around it that's weatherproof and has power, cabling and ventillation. Don't forget those. Plus it will be a bear to install your projector in there. Rails perhaps.

The theater is in the basement, so this would be more like a very short underground tunnel than a window box. It just needs to be a concrete shell. No power outlets or special cabling are needed -- a long extension cord will suffice and long HDMI cable running along the floor will suffice. The whole thing is hidden from view, and does not need to look pretty. A 5'x3'x7'-3" box, with a full 5'x3' opening at one end, won't need any special ventilation at all.

Quote:
Make sure the opening is big enough not to clip the projected image.

With a few inches to spare -- I've worked out the geometry. If the builders can't place the alcove precisely relative to the finished theater, however, they'd be better off adding a few extra inches of height and width to be on the safe side.

Quote:
Many japanese projectors have short throw lenses. Many of the high end projectors have both long and short throw lenses.

How short is short? The smallest throw ratio I've found in a stand-alone 1080p projector so far was 0.75, but this appeared to be a very expensive projector where you have to find a dealer and contact them for a price. Among all of the 1080p projectors for which I've found good reviews, I haven't seen any throw ratios below 1.3, often not lower than 1.4. One of the recently highly-rated projectors at projectorcentral.com, the InFocus IN83, when zoomed to the max has a throw ratio of 1.85, which means it would have to be nearly 15' away from an 8'-wide screen.

It might be possible to find shorter throws among 1024x768 data-grade projectors, but that won't help me here. When screen sizes get much larger than 50" diagonal, the difference between 768 lines and 1080 lines becomes important.

I found some adapter lenses for nearly $2000 which increase picture size by 50%, which is the same as cutting throw by 33%, but I have no idea what effect on picture geometry, color refraction, or light output such lenses would have.

Even if I could achieve a very short throw, a short throw also requires special, more expensive screen material so that light hitting the screen near the edges of the screen, at a shallow angle, is refracted properly to shine mostly forward on the other side of the screen. A 110" lenticular screen built to the same specs as even a cheap one-piece rear projector screen would cost a fortune, would be expensive to ship (you can't roll or fold them), and might be impossible to navigate through doors and hallways into your house.

Quote:
The 1st surface mirrors used for this are high quality. Of course, they cost $7500 for a 106" set (including screen fortunately).

Another reason I'd rather go for a low-tech $5000 hole in the ground.

Quote:
I'd get a less expensive model than the VW200 and plan on decreasing your update cycle by half (whatever it is you're planning). It's still a $15K+ projector and 2 $7K projectors likely means far higher performance for 2nd half the lifecycle and reasonably close performance for the 1st half.

The street price of a VW200 is more like $11K. I might also consider a JVC DLA-RS2, which lists for $8K. (I haven't seen any trustworthy lower street prices yet.) I could go quite a bit lower in price with something like a Panasonic PT-AE2000, but I don't know how satisfied I'd be with that based on some of the negative points I see brought up in reviews.
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post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

The theater is in the basement, so this would be more like a very short underground tunnel than a window box. It just needs to be a concrete shell. No power outlets or special cabling are needed -- a long extension cord will suffice and long HDMI cable running along the floor will suffice. The whole thing is hidden from view, and does not need to look pretty. A 5'x3'x7'-3" box, with a full 5'x3' opening at one end, won't need any special ventilation at all.

Ah, I guess it depends on how well the air circulates and it seems like a large enough area that it shouldn't be an issue.

Quote:
How short is short?

Not too sure. My setup accomodates a medum level of throw so I've only just noted that projectors designed for the Japanese HT market had shorter throws than say InFocus.

I think Meridian, Runco, et al have optional configurations or lens options for short throw installs (like for RP).

Quote:
The street price of a VW200 is more like $11K. I might also consider a JVC DLA-RS2, which lists for $8K. (I haven't seen any trustworthy lower street prices yet.) I could go quite a bit lower in price with something like a Panasonic PT-AE2000, but I don't know how satisfied I'd be with that based on some of the negative points I see brought up in reviews.

Well, you could go with the VPL-VW60. I'd likely go the Epson Home Cinema 1080UB route. Very good blacks, good skin tones, HDMI 1.3 Deep Color, blah blah.

Half the price of the RS1x. For $2700ish I can buy about 4 generations of these for the cost of a VW200 and I'm betting that model #2 will equal it, and #3 and #4 exceed it's performance.

Eh...you know size matters. Whatever you choose is going to be better than the 72" RPTV when it comes to watching movies.
post #29 of 42
Thread Starter 
Ah, nothing like high-tech problem solving techniques:



Just in case my strange projector alcove isn't feasible, which is likely, I was wondering just how much I could achieve using a first-surface mirror, still assuming a throw ratio of 1.5. The easiest way I could think of to figure out a workable light path was to draw it out on paper and physically fold the paper to represent the mirror placement, with the fold starting a little short of a line drawn through the light path representing the back wall of the room behind the screen.

I scaled down my max screen size to 80"x45" -- if I can't get my projector alcove, and I decide to go bigger, I can always revert to front projection. Each square of the paper represents 3 inches. I rounded the screen height up to 48", didn't count the few inches of extra throw I'd get from the thickness of the wall the screen sits in front of, and fattened the end of the light path to 6", all so I'd err on the safe side with a bit of slack for error.

This folding exercise shows me I can make rear projection work using a mirror of about 30"x54", having the screen start at least 30" above the floor, and using a small box that intrudes into the theater room below the screen to hold the projector.

Another smaller mirror could put the projector fully back into the equipment closet, but that would making walking through the closet very awkward, and I don't mind the idea of the projector box under the screen that much anyway, although it could interview with center channel placement a little bit.
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post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

Ah, nothing like high-tech problem solving techniques:



Just in case my strange projector alcove isn't feasible, which is likely, I was wondering just how much I could achieve using a first-surface mirror, still assuming a throw ratio of 1.5. The easiest way I could think of to figure out a workable light path was to draw it out on paper and physically fold the paper to represent the mirror placement, with the fold starting a little short of a line drawn through the light path representing the back wall of the room behind the screen.

I scaled down my max screen size to 80"x45" -- if I can't get my projector alcove, and I decide to go bigger, I can always revert to front projection. Each square of the paper represents 3 inches. I rounded the screen height up to 48", didn't count the few inches of extra throw I'd get from the thickness of the wall the screen sits in front of, and fattened the end of the light path to 6", all so I'd err on the safe side with a bit of slack for error.

This folding exercise shows me I can make rear projection work using a mirror of about 30"x54", having the screen start at least 30" above the floor, and using a small box that intrudes into the theater room below the screen to hold the projector.

Another smaller mirror could put the projector fully back into the equipment closet, but that would making walking through the closet very awkward, and I don't mind the idea of the projector box under the screen that much anyway, although it could interview with center channel placement a little bit.

I'd like to interject here and post something that, while it will sound harsh, is meant to be helpful.

You've gone off the deep end.

I say this only as someone that has built a home. It's OK buddy. It happens to us all. Stop and think about what you're suggesting now. Mirrors? Alcoves? $5000 extra? Dude. I implore you....come back to us. Do not go to the light.



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post #31 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Do not go to the light.

The light you see if from his awesome 110" RP setup.

However, I do question how well the tunnel will avoid cracks and leaks.
post #32 of 42
Do these projectors have a setting that "reverses" the projected picture?... You'll need that if you were to go with that mirror idea. You know... like trying to read a book by looking at it's reflection in a mirror?
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post #33 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

Do these projectors have a setting that "reverses" the projected picture?... You'll need that if you were to go with that mirror idea. You know... like trying to read a book by looking at it's reflection in a mirror?

Most expensive projectors do have settings to flip the picture either horizontally or vertically or both, but that's something I would need to check on a case-by-case basis. It's not made obvious in the specs or most reviews.

Straight-on rear projection will produce an upright but mirrored image if not adjusted from front projection defaults.

[Edit: fixing an earlier mistake]

Bouncing off a mirror, which is useful for compressing a long projection path, will reverse that mirroring, so without making any adjustment to front projection defaults you'll end up with a properly oriented picture.
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post #34 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Dude. I implore you....come back to us. Do not go to the light.

I like the light. It's pretty!

Seriously, as housing goes compared to income level, I'm well within a reasonable budget here, so I don't mind spending a little extra to get just what I want. And while this might be a weird architectural feature, as long as it's properly water-tight and structurally sound (I won't do it if it isn't), it shouldn't detract from the value of the house. Any potential future buyer can simply ignore the space, use it for storage, a build a wall safe if they have no use putting a projector in there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinea View Post

The light you see if from his awesome 110" RP setup.

However, I do question how well the tunnel will avoid cracks and leaks.

That's why I'm letting the builder have the final say. If he's too wary about this, I'll drop it.
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post #35 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

I like the light. It's pretty!

Seriously, as housing goes compared to income level, I'm well within a reasonable budget here, so I don't mind spending a little extra to get just what I want. And while this might be a weird architectural feature, as long as it's properly water-tight and structurally sound (I won't do it if it isn't), it shouldn't detract from the value of the house. Any potential future buyer can simply ignore the space, use it for storage, a build a wall safe if they have no use putting a projector in there.


That's why I'm letting the builder have the final say. If he's too wary about this, I'll drop it.

I just think you should take a step back. I don't disagree about resale and I'm sure your budget is fine. I just think you're going to make this thing to complex that it will be more trouble than its worth. It's the old Keep It Simple Stupid thing. Mirrors and alcoves watertightness and oh my God...I'm warning you. Get a really fucking awesome projection set or even a $15-30K LCD set or something. You could get one hell of a setup for that kind of money.
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post #36 of 42
I don't think I would have the alcove built even if the builder thought it was ok. The earth around the house will settle in a few years and I would expect it to the alcove with it since it is not sitting on the foundation. Even a very small change can quickly cause cracks and leakage leading to a moldy alcove or worse. There is a lot of mass around the alcove with no way to keep it at the same elevation as the house.
post #37 of 42
When we built our house 18 years ago I ran security for all windows, doors, outside lights and smoke/fire. Since you have animals inside motion detectors are not a good idea. Insurance is also cheaper if you have it monitored. Have your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors connected to the security system. That way an alarm in the basement will heard and seen at each keypad. Having an alarm and not hearing it does you no good.

As for running CAT cabling, run it for the basement and 1st floor rooms. Wired network printers and scanners have a lot less problems than ones on wireless networks. 2nd floor equipment can use the wireless. We have some old computers, Mac and PC, that cannot get on the newer wireless networks. Having a wired port keeps them useful.

Access and pull boxes are great to have. Utilities usually come inside in the corner of the basement. The house risers are usually in the center of the house. Run a couple of 2 1/2" PVC pipes from the utility area to the basement riser area and then access box at each floor and the attic. One can be used for power the other everything else.

We have intercom sub stations in all rooms. Well worth what we paid.

Zone your heating and cooling.

A friend of ours also raised the floor in the back part of his basement TV room. The raised area has a sofa and 2 recliners with tables between each. Great for football games and fights.
post #38 of 42
Thread Starter 
The projector alcove is dead... not unexpected.

Now that I've played around with the geometry a bit, it looks like I could still manage to do rear projection (if that turns out to be the way I want to go) with one under-$1000 first surface mirror, using a 6"-deep equipment closet, even for screen sizes up to 110" diagonal, although at the upper end of screen sizes there might have to be a projector enclosure box that protrudes into the theater room, under or over the screen.
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post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by shetline View Post

I'd love to do solar heating and power, but it's still way too expensive for me -- unless you know of something that's cheaper than what I've heard of. If eventually I can afford it, all I'd have to do is convince a majority of five other households in a small six-home association.

We are doing what we can to improve the efficiency of the house, with 2x6 exterior walls, paying a few thousands extra for better insulation, double-pane windows (those I think might even be required by code at this point), and an updated HVAC system that will easily be more efficient than what we have in the current house.

I gotta throw in my 2 cents here.

Spend the money on the solar water heating at the very least. Your local utility probably has a cash rebate for it, and your state may have one as too (as we do here in Florida). I just finished building 2 prototype zero-energy homes here in Gainesville, and solar water heating was standard on both of them. The photovoltaics can get expensive, up to $9/watt, and the payoff period is usally about 25-30 years on those. The payback on the solar waterheating is only 5-7 years.

Another bonus: the Fed will give you a $2000 tax credit for installing a solar water system on you house. I'm not talking about a deduction, I am talking about a credit. So when you fill out your taxes for 2008, and you get to the end of the 1040 and owe $6,732 (or whatever), solar water heating takes $2000 off of that number. Oh, and photovoltaics will take another $2000 off.

Food for thought.
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post #40 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by hjordis71 View Post

I gotta throw in my 2 cents here.

Spend the money on the solar water heating at the very least. Your local utility probably has a cash rebate for it, and your state may have one as too (as we do here in Florida). I just finished building 2 prototype zero-energy homes here in Gainesville, and solar water heating was standard on both of them. The photovoltaics can get expensive, up to $9/watt, and the payoff period is usally about 25-30 years on those. The payback on the solar waterheating is only 5-7 years.

Another bonus: the Fed will give you a $2000 tax credit for installing a solar water system on you house. I'm not talking about a deduction, I am talking about a credit. So when you fill out your taxes for 2008, and you get to the end of the 1040 and owe $6,732 (or whatever), solar water heating takes $2000 off of that number. Oh, and photovoltaics will take another $2000 off.

Food for thought.

Interesting.

Are you including the tax credit in the 5-7 year payback period?
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