New construction wiring on a budget


New Member
I just built a 2000 sf ranch and I plan to pre wire the house for audio. I can close in the walls whenever, so I have time to prep. I just don't know what I want...
I am new here and will likely spend quite a bit of time searching and reading on my own but I figure I can start here because I dont even know where to begin!

Lets just get it out that I dont have a crazy budget for all sorts of crazy ipad control, etc....unless there are things to provision for now that are cheap.

I am not really concerned about any type of home automation, lights, or security.
Basically looking at audio provisions, home audio for music and theater.

I can easily access interior partitions down the road but want to plan accordingly best I can. I might be meeting with a consultant to give me some ideas for wiring etc and what systems I should look at. Probably worth the investment

Basic rundown of what I am looking for.

What I should run for coax, etc to each TV
Internet jacks
main living room for tv and music combined.

I am thinking wireless sonos for the whole house and putting provisions for speakers on the rear deck, garage, and most rooms in the house. I assume wall speakers at ear level are better than ceiling? Should I plan for in wall ceilings or the sonos units? My parents have sonos and it seems like it would be fine for me.

My living, dining and kitchen is all open.

Perhaps hard wire each location to be safe. Sonos should cover me for music in the house, but I need to find out if I can use them for watching movies as well from the main tv on the living room or if I need two setups. One for the audio and one for movies. I see that sonos has a center channel a sub setup. Anyone have any input on these setups?
Definitely hard wire.  Even if you go with Sonos today doesn't mean you won't want something else later.
Ceiling speakers tend to be the norm for non home-theater situations.  That way you can re-arrange furniture layouts and not worry about speakers.  If it's a main viewing/theater environment, follow the THX guidelines for placement here.
I would run all of your speaker runs to a central location, and then a double gang box in each room with Cat5 that goes back to the same location as the speaker wiring.  This really lets you do whatever you want, from mild to wild.  If you decide to put in a central system later like a NuVo or Russound you have everything ready.
TV runs I think most people would agree that a good middle ground is 2 coax and 2 Cat5e/Cat6.  You can readily buy spools of this cable bundle so you are only pulling one thing to each TV.
Network jacks are up to you... pick a spot to be your network hub location, it may also be the same place your central audio point is.  Make sure you run at least 1 coax and 1 Cat5e/Cat6 to that location from the demarcation points of the phone company and cable company, if there is one.
Cable is cheap. Run everything you can while the walls are open, it's a lot more expensive to do later. Even if you don't plan on adding a security system, wire it in.

To wire it in now, will probably cost you less than 5$ a drop. If you have to have someone wire it in later (once the walls are in) you're probably looking at at $70-100/drop.

Security sensors especially are the worst to wire in later, because you have to work around window and door frames, so a lot easier to wire when you can do horizontal drilling through studs, etc.

A great source for cheap cable/jacks is Monoprice. Not cheap to ship to Canada, but if you ship to a warehouse like CBI ( and go pick it up it can save you a bundle.

I think thats a good start. Once my electrician is done wiring, I can go to town once i have a gameplan.

I am thinking the master dressing room (decent size room) or foyer closet for central location. I have utilities below in the basement and future finished basement elsewhere so either is probably a good spot seeing as how it will always stay open underneath for access. having a ranch and access to ceiling is huge as well.

I would probably run wire for a speaker in every room. I would just need to figure out the living room.
I am not sure if I should also provision for some there leading back to the central location and then also some for a home theater setup for a completely different system, using the thx guidelines, either bringing them back to the same location or brought back next to the main tv where the DVD player etc will be.

basically, allowing a sonos or similar setup for music in the whole house, including living room, and then a seperate home theater only system.

i can post a floor plan pic, but I have a future bonus room above the garage and lower level that could be a home theater room. I am not sure yet if I want to look at floor standing speakers in the living room. Its completely open and limited wall space. I will have to think about it.

any thoughts? floor plan pic would help. I can post that.

I will probably meet with the local home theater company, but I am always skeptical with someone who is selling something. Advice on here is worth more to me because you guys have nothing to gain!

On the security system, I would have to figure out what is involved to do it now. I have over 40 windows and doors, so later might be cost prohibitive. I also live on a family farm / compound, surrounded by 50 family members in one of the safest parts of the state which is why I am not overly concerned, but if its easy and cheap to provision now, I can consider. lots of windows though! Would I need to hire someone for that or is a simple process to wire around each window and send back to one location? similar to speaker wire?
Here I wired every room for sound initially running 16/2 speaker wires to gang boxes in same said room or vicinity.  Then from there 16/4 wires and cat5e wires to basement comm closet.  That said in the two story the chase is in the center of the house from basement to attic.  Basement comm closet is off to one side of the basement (utility area).   I did bulk purchase the in wall speakers by the case and got some great deals.  Same for the 16/2 & 16/4 PVC jacketed speaker wire purchasing it in spools of 1000 feet.
Some three years ago redid the family room / media room.  I went with a combo of externally mounted and ceiling mounted speakers.  Center, left and right are external, left and right center rear in ceiling, left and right rear external and subwoofer.
While redoing the family room redid the electrical to provide circuits just for the multimedia separating out the electrical for lighting, regular outlets and MM outlets.  While in the vicinity redid did all of my low voltage wiring accomodating multiple satellite, broadband and OTA feeds plus some 8 jacks networking, speakers so for and so on.  Tore out the fireplace and redid that and flooring while I was at it.  The was a bit low on the WAF as the room was out of commission for a couple of months.  Most difficult pieces though related to repainting the white trim around the windows and baseboard.
Concurrently did similiar for the master bedroom MM setup except all of the speakers there are either in wall or in ceiling. 
The two story low voltage wiring chases are in the middle of the house from the attic to the basement and off to the side utility section.
In the ranch house in Florida; we did a tear down in the late 1990's early 2000's (original purchase was in the 80's) of a home built around the mid 50's.  It was at water level mostly done in wood and adjacent to the water.  Over the years the wood had deteriorted.  New construction codes there elevated the house some 8-10 feet with a cement base.  Plumbing and some chases were put into the cement.  Water views are much nicer with much glass on the water side of the house (and we are at the end of the block of three streets in a 50 home subdivision).  The new house has elevated ceiling throughout.  The house is all block and has a tiled terracotta roof.  I built a wiring closet in the center of the house.  It is behind two doors sort of in a closet, in closet in a closet scenario.  The low voltage chases were done during construction prewall and around the time the electrical was being done.   All of the low voltage wiring is in the attic.  I did also do the same for the speakers in the the house adding speakers outside in the pool lanai and wiring the garage.  The MM / great room has mostly in ceiling speakers and external front and center.  It was much more difficult to set up because of the vaulted ceilings and much glass.  Here I also put speakers in the bathrooms.  The master bathroom here too has speakers.  But both are large rooms. 
Tear down and construction took about one year; too long for me. 
We were lucky that the builder gave us the opportunity and time to put in the low voltage wiring.  I did actually get a quote prior to the wiring and the alarm wiring was predone by an alarm company.  They did do excellent work covering every window and door and wired for many PIR's and multiple consoles.  It was included in the construction costs based on the assumption that I would utilize said alarm companies "stuff".  The quotes for additional LV wiring were high such that material costs for me were low; thus my DIY LV wiring. 
Today I utilize the zoned sound and speakers for both multimedia and text to speech for the home automation mothership.  That said many folks have also just put in separate single speakers along with pairs of speakers separating the mothership's tongue from the music and entertainment stuff.
2 Speakers for each zone, unless as small as a half bath.
Monoprice in-ceilings are good budget speakers, for background music.