Remodeling 5,500 sq. ft. house, virtually no budget for HA smarthome!

I say virtually no budget, but really the budget is around 20-30k. I’m looking to automate lights, locks, blinds, audio, video(?), the whole nine yard. I want to do it all. Here is what I’ve documented that I’m doing so far, but I’d really like suggestions on anything and everything you can think of that I should wire-up while the house is ripped apart. I want to do everything I can think of. Here are the first draft floor plans of the house. The area in the basement labeled “storage” is actually the proposed home theater area.

Conduit or direct Cat 6

  • Every tv location (conduit)
  • Every speaker location (cat6)
  • Every security camera location (cat6)
  • Every wifi access point location (cat6)
  • All doors for any possible door sensors/doorbells/automated doors (cat6)
  • Large Conduit ran from basement to attic (conduit)
  • Tops of kitchen cabinets (for smart lights and future automations) (cat6)
  • All windows for low voltage power, automation for automated blinds
  • Saw a post to run cat 6 and power behind bathroom mirrors for power and future smart mirrors
  • Conduit to garage
  • Are there any other places I should have conduit or cat 6 ran for future proofing?
  • Touchpanel locations


  • Should I put Aeotec Multisensor 6 sensors throughout the entire home ceilings while I have the chance? Spaced propertly, I could get pretty good accuracy if a room has motion or not.
  • Any other types of sensors I should wire up?
  • I’d like to have sensors on every external and internal doort to know if they are open or not. What wired sensors should I get for doors and windows? The less noticable they are, the better.
  • I plan to have two magnetic driveway sensors so I can see if someone is coming or going on the driveway.


  • I will be going with Unifi. Any networking locations I should run conduit to besides AP locations?
  • Any other things to consider for networking?

Whole House Audio

  • We would like 18 zones
  • What is the best whole-home audio solution that works with Home Assitant? I’d ideally like to have two speakers in every zone. It would be great if this could be used for announcements or something.
  • I’d like to be able to control the zones on the fly–walking up to a touch panel, choosing an audio source, and selecting which zones for it to currently be on.
  • Would something like the HTD 1240ADS work?

Home Theater

  • I will have a dedicated home theater room in the basement that I’d like to wire for sound/automation. Any considerations here?
  • I will also have a “casual” home theater setup in the living room on the first floor–any considerations here?

Kitchen Appliances

  • Kitchen appliances are all Thermador and they’re all smart/wifi-connected


  • Best touchpads I can possibly get for Home Assitant? I was thinking of going with Galaxy Tab A 8’s with tablet mounts by Makes by Mike.
  • I’ll be getting this Savvy Mirror by Electric Mirror for our bathroom with 22" built-in touch-screen.
  • Sprinkler system for yard?
  • I’ll update this post if I think of anything else.

POE all the things, get the 48-port pro switch, add extra ceiling mount areas for expansion if you want more access points, run 2 cables to each… you are gonna need a lot of patch panels, I am using the TC-KP24S. Even stuff that does not use ethernet should get a patch port, then patch cord that to a panel on an adjacent rack for splitting to sensors and power.

Use CAT6A cable instead of regular CAT6 for things actually carrying data, superior alien crosstalk, especially important with the amount of cable being run, and can handle 10gig over a longer run. I am upgrading all my CAT6 to 6A right now.

Put thermal monitoring everywhere, you can get much better control of your climate system and better understanding of trends, plus add probes inside your fridges and freezers, as well as power monitoring for those devices (at the socket or breaker) you can can determine if there is a failure or a sudden spike in power usage (due to door left ajar or degraded components). Shelly 1PM with the temp monitor addon works great for that. Add mechanical heat sensors anywhere you cannot use a smoke detector, including the attic and garage

In frame magnetic door and window sensors work great and are pretty much invisible, also add wired deadbolt sensors. I know some people add a switch to light up the pantry when the door opens, I just have it lit up all the time with a long vertical LED strip along the back, it uses basically no power, and no need for a switch.

I am slowly transitioning a large amount of lighting control to Lutron, both Caseta (pro) and RA2 Select have excellent custom component support, I am using Pico remotes for all sorts of cool things, the range is fantastic and the response is instant. You may want to go entirely with low voltage lighting


Conduit, conduit, conduit.

Cabling is almost irrelevant at that point. Run conduit to all “common” areas that will be difficult to access such as soffits. Run conduit to every door and window frame for sensors, motors, etc.

As I gut my house and rebuild it, I run conduits in every room from every place I could ever think of needing them (and extras, such as into wall cavities) and terminate each to a box which can be hidden behind a vent, picture, etc. Then from the box, a big conduit to the basement where all the electrical distribution and control lives.

You haven’t mentioned your preferred lighting system ? I’m assuming wireless but if you may choose wired then you may need low voltage wiring to switches and a change in the whole wiring topology , fittings and switches individually back to a central wiring closet with DIN dimmers or similar.

Definitely these, but run them on power supplies rather than battery.

Office desk?

A decent location to mount a rack for all this gear.

Quality, thick cable for surround sound speakers.

ESPhome running on an ESP8266 / ESP32, a few relays and a power supply. An old post about my setup which has been improved a little since this post

I have a 5k sqft house and handled all the low voltage planning.

If you plan on automated window shades you want to plan to have power to the tops of the windows. For us it wasn’t entirely practical as our framing and spray foam insulation made it pretty much impossible to leave wire hanging around anywhere for later use. So we went with Hunter Douglas shades powered from batteries. They’ve worked pretty well. But know that automated shades are hilariously expensive. You want to have a local shades installer come take a look and give you a quote. Pay for their time and listen to their suggestions. Wire as recommended, even if you don’t plan on implementing shades right away. You “can” add wire later, if it’s just batt insulated walls, but if it’s foam… you’re screwed.

Door sensors are something worth adding during construction. All entry doors. Talk to a local alarm dealer and potentially have them install their most basic system. That way you can retrofit later, or not. But at least the wire/sensors will already be there.

Lighting… plan on it be wired like a regular house. This way if tech changes you won’t be trapped by panelized lighting or ‘remote dimmer’ walls. Bring power WITH neutral through ALL wall switch positions. Wire 4-conductor to ALL ceiling fixtures. This includes cans. Just use 14/3 everywhere instead of 14/2 (or whatever the Romex recommendation is in your area). This way you’ll have the option to power anything in a ceiling can, and not be stuck with the power going through the wall switch. The red wire won’t be live, but it’ll BE THERE for future use. THIS IS WORTH SPENDING TO IMPLEMENT.

I’m a big fan of Lutron Ra2 lighting. It’s rock-solid reliable and works with hundreds of kinds of lighting elements. It’s not cheap but it’s worth it for the reliability.

Same thing for their occupancy/vacancy sensors. They just work and I’ve got some that are now 7 years old and still on their original lithium batteries. The added benefit is you can play around with their placement until you find the ‘sweet spot’ that really provides the best results. 3M’s Command picture hanging strips are PERFECT for this. I’ve had units on the ceilings for 3 years using those strips until I found the ‘best’ location for them. Then it was just two screws into the surface to secure the mount.

Speakers… ugh… it’s hard to beat the convenience of Amazon Echo devices. Sure, better fidelity can be had with built-in speakers… but they’re just not as convenient to use. We have two speaker locations pre-wired in all rooms and have installed exactly zero of them. What I did was pull the wire to the most likely locations and then marked an X on the floor below. I took pictures of each of them, with a distance x/y from the walls. This way if/when we ever want to put in the speakers I can just measure out square and cut above the X. The wires to the speakers come though a 2-gang wall box. The wall box as two CAT5E wires and one 12/4 in-wall speaker cable going back to a central location. The speakers have a 12/2 to each of them from the wall box. The downside to the pre-wiring is I put the 2-gang boxes on the wall, with blank wall plates. Knowing now how we’ve not used them I sort of wish I’d just wired them without boxes, just left behind the walls. Because this has left me with blank two-gang wall plates in their control locations. Some folks might not like that effect on the decor.

Only spend money on conduit when you know you can’t get into the location without it. Otherwise it’s wasted time/materials installing it. For us, with spray-foamed wall insulation, I have it on the outer boxes that have wire. Wire is cheaper than conduit.

I pre-wired all “likely” locations that could use data with two CAT5E and one CAT6 cable, along with two coax. The coax has only been useful in place that have a TV. It was pointless to put it in as many places as I did. CAT5E/6 was the best available at the time. If I were doing it today I’d use 3 CAT6A instead. CAT7/8 are considerably more expensive and time-consuming to install.

Fiber is a waste of time/money.

The one thing I didn’t do was plan for on-ceiling wifi access points. I wish I had. But the reality is you can’t know how your wifi coverage is going to work until you have the windows in, walls up AND PAINTED. PoE wasn’t a big thing when I built this house. But knowing what I know now, I’d have planned at least one ceiling box in each room with conduit to a convenient pull location. That or two CAT6 cables (to avoid one being bad/damaged during construction). I didn’t though, so I’ve used the wall outlets to connect Unifi access points, adding them as wifi needs became better defined.

There’s more to consider, like pre-wiring for security cameras, sensors and doorbells.

Anywhere you’re gonna have A/V equipment, streaming devices or game consoles, or any hosted media, Ethernet it. Lower energy usage, better latency and bandwidth, no real reason to wifi those things since they’ll rarely if ever move.

And who ever wants to type a wifi password using a game pad. Even once is too many times :joy:

Whoops, almost replied to a two-year old post.