The first official order of business after signing the contract is to decide something that will actually be one of the last things to be installed: low-voltage options. That’s all the electronics wiring: phone/network jacks, security system, speakers, etc. Boring? Not for a techie like me!

The house comes prewired for security – door sensors, glass-break sensors and a control panel. Of course it’s up to the homeowner to pay the monitoring fee.

There are two kinds of audio systems: whole house and surround sound. The whole house audio is like the model home – speakers in each room play the same audio. If that’s what you want, I’d recommend a Sonos system.

Surround sound is more important because you need speakers correctly installed in each room to reproduce audio for TV & movies. Old DVDs used 5.1 sound; modern video consoles, set-top boxes and Blu-ray use 7.1. That’s 7 channels – left, center, right, left surround, right surround, left rear and right rear – plus the subwoofer. Obviously you don’t want cords all over the place, so getting this installed inside the walls and ceilings is important.

We chose to add surround sound to the family room and master bedroom. I think mounting the left, right & center speakers on the front wall makes for a more natural sound. And hiding the surround and rear speakers in the ceiling gives you an uncluttered look.

These days, fewer people bother with landline phones (we haven’t had one for years). Even if you need landline you may not need as many jacks as you think. Modern DECT-6 phone systems have a single base station to attach to one phone jack, and all the cordless handsets run wirelessly off that main base station.

Wiring your new house is still important. Whether a particular jack is for phone or data, the cabling is the same. All wires lead to the utility room in the basement, so you can change the jack and connect to either system – just not both at the same time!

Sure, we all use wireless internet now, but wi-fi speed is diminished with every wall it has to penetrate. We recommend putting the main internet router in the basement, then connect that to at least one network jack on each floor where you’ll add a wireless base station. All base stations are in bridge mode and use the same wi-fi network name and password, and most importantly, all are wired to the main router in the basement. That way, no matter where you are in the house, a device connects to the nearest wi-fi router for the strongest signals. If this doesn’t make sense to you, ask a computer tech after you move in. For now, take advantage of the wiring opportunity when you build a new house.

© Robert B Pickering 2017