Networking a New Build Home (Part 1)

Introduction

First of all, let me begin by introducing myself. My name is Wesley Rickward and I’m a 30-something technology enthusiast who also loves spending time with my family. I have been working in the IT industry for over 17 years now and currently work as a Senior IT Support Analyst for an international travel company. I am married with a 2 ½ year old son, who is already showing an interest in technology!

Recently I had the opportunity to do something not many of us get to do – we’re moving to a new-build home very soon as a result I was given the chance to fully network the property before completion.

The opportunity came about one day while chatting with the Site Manager (I’m a friendly kind of guy!) who agreed to give me access to the property and provided me with full PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) clearance and a site health and safety induction. It is unusual for a buyer to be granted access to a property at this stage of build prior to completion. Builders generally like you to purchase all extras, including networking, from themselves which is understandable but also costly to the buyer!

As an enthusiast, the opportunity to research, plan, design and wire up my home from scratch was too good to miss – it would be a big job, but one from which the whole family would benefit on a daily basis.

This article is the first of a three-part write-up of the stages I went through networking my home – from conception to completion. I’ll look back at what was achieved on the project and tell you honestly what I would change if I ever get the chance to do it again in the future. I hope you enjoy the read and if you learn something along the way even better!

Requirements

I reached a decision a long while back that when we were going to purchase our next home, I wanted to take the opportunity to network it throughout. I wanted to be able to stream media and move data around the home using structured cabling at decent speeds – using Wi-Fi only for portable devices. As our new property has the added benefit of Fibre Internet it made sense to maximise network speeds throughout the home.

An additional, but important requirement for us, was to be able to utilise our existing Sky TV set-top box with two additional TVs located around the house, allowing us to watch recorded programmes in the Kitchen or the Master bedroom – or as usual in the living room. 

Planning

With these requirements in mind, it was decided that two hardwired Ethernet points per room (apart from my study) would meet our needs for data usage. If additional connections are required in these locations, I would use Gigabit switches. The reason I chose two points was simply to save on costs – one would be utilised while the other acts as a redundant spare. It would be practically impossible to replace any faulty wiring later on, without incurring major expense and inconvenience.

In addition to the data ports, I would also run two direct Ethernet feeds from the living room – one to the Kitchen and the other to the Master bedroom. These would be used as direct feeds from the Sky set-top box in the living room. My plan is to use a HDMI splitter from the Sky box, with one feed going directly to the lounge TV and the other two feeds connecting to HDMI over Ethernet adapters, feeding to their respective locations. OK, there is the fact that only one channel can be viewed at any given time, but with all the other available media sources in the house, this would not be an issue for us.

I knew from the plans provided by the builder that I would be using a large storage cupboard located on the top floor of the home as the heart of the network. All structured cabling would be terminated here – as this is a family home, I wanted all networking to be located away from the ground floor utility room and little fingers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince the builders or BT Openreach (our Internet wholesale provider) to relocate the Fibre entry point upstairs. I would have preferred this to have been located in the top floor cupboard, but it remains, as per the plan, in the downstairs utility room. 

Property Layout

The property is a detached three-storey town house which is laid out as follows:

 

Ground floorGround Floor - Ready for Spots

  • Living room
  • Kitchen with utility – BT Fibre enters the property in the utility room
  • Dining room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1st Floor - Ready for Spots

First Floor

  • Master bedroom with dressing room and en-suite
  • Double bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second Floor

  • Double bedroom
  • Single bedroom – this is to become my study
  • Large cupboard which will become the heart of the network

 

2nd Floor - Ready for Spots

I will shortly be able to access the house and carry out the cable installation, which I am sure will present its own challenges and I look forward to updating you all at each stage along with a final write up as to how things turn out.

12 comments

  1. Multi-story homes have got to be a pain to retrofit. Fortunately my 40-something year old house is single-story… so running everything after the fact was a little easier.

    Modem & router in the family room. One ethernet line to the 24 port switch and patch panel in the garage, 3 back to the family room, 4 to the office, 2 for the guest room, and 2 for the Master bedroom. Plenty left for the living room and 4th bedroom, or extras in existing locations.

    1000ft spool of CAT-5E and all the connectors was maybe $300?

    Though crawling around the attic does suck….

    1. Hey Eddie, indeed, even more so due to modern construction methods. I was very luck though the builders were very accommodating, had a chippy on hand to put in extra noggins where required and help from the sparky when needed.

    1. Hi John, one little tip i will share right now is get two spools of cabling. Its far easier to run two cables at the same time to each location than running one and having to start again.

  2. Looking forward to more of your story.
    You may want to consider HDMI ports and running speaker wire to the back of the house. Watching a movie or sporting events on summer evenings with family and friends is great fun.

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for the tip, going forward I will be using a wireless speaker solution for music around the house and into the garden on the odd occasion when we get good weather. In my living room I have the LG BH9540TW 9.1 Cinema kit which has wireless rear speakers.

  3. I wired mine when under construction – the main hub was in my attic – probably not quite as hot in England as it is in Texas, but I strongly suggest any electronics be located in an air conditioned/heated space. I replace my hub annually or my wired piece doesn’t work outside my office area.

    1. Hi Stephen, a very valid point. The top portion of the house does get very hot even here in the UK in the winter due to the heat rising, i will be keeping an eye on it as I intend to place two HP Gen 8 Microservers in the same cupboard. This will all be in future articles though.

      1. My attic space gets to 140-150F in the summer – even with attic ventilation. Electronics don’t like that to say the least!

    1. Hi Matt, The cabling will be utilised for both data and video content.
      I have two HP Gen8 Micro servers, one is currently running WHS2011 (soon to be Server 2012 r2 Essentials) while the other is my lab machine running Server 2012 r2 Essentials. The WHS2011 server hosts Plex and my iTunes library which will be streamed around the house.

  4. Hi RIchard – any update on this??!?!?!?! We are close to deciding on what to with our new build and be great to hear how the process has been for you…

    Thanks, Pete

Leave a Reply