House Hunting: Your Home Theater Checklist

Are you searching for a new home? You know to look for foundation issues. However, what about the viability of running low-voltage wire throughout your new home?

If you would like high quality sound and video distributed throughout your home and to have a clean appearance with equipment wires hidden in the walls, taking a close look at the home's home-theater readiness can help you anticipate the investment required. To help you successfully implement the whole house audio and video system of your dreams, here are a few considerations:

1. Look for existing home wiring

Check to see that the home has structured wiring in place. Residential structured wiring usually takes the form of a home-run with wiring runs from a central point (often in a closet or a basement) going out to all other rooms in the home. Check for the following low-voltage wiring to each room:

• Voice, Internet, streaming media: Cat 5, Cat 5e, or Cat 6 wire

• Satellite and digital cable: coax cable

• Speakers: speaker wire

2. Determine how easily wire can be run to each room

Does the home have an accessible crawlspace and attic? Ideally, you will have a home with a crawlspace and an attic to run wire whenever and wherever you need it. Even if none of the rooms currently have any wire ran to them, with a crawlspace and an attic, a home theater professional can run the wire for you. If the home does not have an accessible crawlspace or attic, a home theater professional can still run the wires, although it will require some sheet rock removal and drilling through studs to place the wire where it needs to go.

3. Plan ahead for new construction and remodel homes

If you are planning for new construction or will be remodeling a part of your new home, you have the unparalleled opportunity to run wire almost anywhere you want while the walls are open. Once the walls are up (sheet rock attached), it becomes more difficult and time consuming to run wire.

• Run as much high quality data communication and speaker wire that you may need at this point in the construction phase

• If you have slab concrete with no crawlspace and no attic, run wire and conduit (tubing to hold wires) while it is still possible

• If you are on a tight budget, commit the majority of the money you spend to putting wire or conduit inside the walls and cover unused outlets with blank faceplates. Later when budget allows, you can easily retrieve the wires from inside the walls.

Now that you have your home theater checklist, the possibilities are limitless for how you can design your home theater system. Before you move in or begin construction, consider contacting a home theater professional for a free consultation to review your options.

What home theater-readiness do you look for when house hunting? I welcome your ideas.