Went through this exercise and moved-in to our new place in May. My goals were: good future proofing, multi room audio, iPhone airplay for my wife, surround for the main tv, a home office for a guy who sometimes pokes around data projects, and as few exposed cables as possible.
What we ended up with was pretty good, but there's a couple lessons learned and things I'd do differently. First, what we did:
- dual cat6 and coax runs wherever a tv would be. 4xcat6 for bonus room/main tv
- quad cat6 to home office
- cat6/coax/power to outside CCTV. No plans to use it, but it's there.
- conduit to bonus room/main tv
- replaced all phone jacks with cat6/rj45
- pair of good speakers in main rooms and deck, wired to basement
- surround, in-wall speakers in bonus room/main tv
- Control4 system for automation and audio
- separate receiver for the main tv
- cubox-i's for xbmc. These are new, but working really well
- couple control4 light switches to play around with
- control4 module for the security system
- Nest for thermostat
- couple wemo power switches for Christmas lights
- iPhone for remote, but any phone would work
- good 24port managed gigabit switch. It's worth the extra few hundred bucks
- 2 ASUS dark knight routers with after-market range extenders. Full bars anywhere on the block :)
- rack in the basement. Keeps son out of the cabling and they're cheap secondhand
- unraid NAS for media. Cheap, reliable solution $/GB
- good power management
No regrets about any of this. The iPhone makes for a good universal remote and Control4 (audio/lights), the nest, our receiver, and xbmc all work great. If you wanted better integration you could probably buy a module from Control4, but I found the single controller offered a lot less than purpose-built apps.
No shortage on networking. I see fiber to the rooms being recommended, but they're already testing 10Gbit over cat6 so I was content to settle on copper. I figured it's a risk either way, there's always the potential for a new standard of cable in a couple years so conduit where it counts and practical for the rest. We don't use all the jacks right now, but they're cheaper at build than fishing cables after the fact.
The audio is also very good for a closed system like Control4. It'll read your library and has modules for services like Rhapsody which my wife uses regularly. I opted for a separate Yamaha for the main tv for better sound, plus I'm not spending a bunch of money on a Control4 locked-in video switcher in the basement. XBMC does a fine job sharing media and it's easy enough for non-techies like babysitting grandparents to figure out.
I'm not pleased with the two Control4 light switches. They use a Zigbee wireless system that has range issues unless you wire enough switches in your house for coverage, and are ridiculously expensive (almost $200 pretty switch!). It's neat being able to turn on the lights on my iPhone, but definitely not worth the price. MyUbe.co is promising sub-$60 light switches this spring that are rip and replace with app and an open API, so I'm keeping an eye on this as a future solution.
Two things I'd definitely have done differently knowing what I now do:
1) get more power. We've filled the breaker box and have been told will need another line from the city if we ever need more power. For a guy familiar with servers and power consumption this was pretty dumb on my part. Calculate your power needs before they trench your utility lines, or have them run one before the house is built. Our options for more power in the future are looking expensive, and a little planning could have saved that.
2) comparison shop your automation vendors, including multiple resellers of the same product. We picked Control4 with the builder's recommended vendor because they had a mature app and most of the features we wanted at the time, with what looked like good future options. This was a poor choice. The reseller intentionally misled us to believe the main Control4 unit would support AirPlay out of the box; it doesn't, you need an addon module (surprise $$$). We're also stuck paying expensive install rates for any future work, including something a simple as adding a light switch to the network (you can't do this yourself). All in all I should have checked with other Control4 resellers before buying-in instead of relying just on personal research and the sales rep.
Make no mistake, I'm not against Control4. Their audio system is very good, and we're happy with it. I also think that value for dollar you won't get an out-of-the-box solution that's easier to use for whole-home audio or some of the other things they do. If like me you don't have a lot of time to tinker with your own system this is the way to go. They also have a fairly decent controller for installed hardware that let's you do things like program a triple-tap of a light switch to dim the lights and turn on the music.
Long story short: consider a suite like Control4 if you want a single controller for everything and are ok with the feature set they provide being all you need. If you have a little time and brain space for learning look at the new guys in town like Nest and MyUbe as a more cost effective solution. I'm going to wait on reviews for MyUbe before buying, but from what's out there it's looking pretty good.