A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

The Wired Home

I am intrigued by how our homes are changing with new technologies, which have also caused us to change the home. The entertainment value offered by computers, gaming systems, and the internet have caused us to divert our focus from the exterior towards the interior. Home gardens are shrinking as the luxury of space becomes our most sought after goal. With ever increasing television sets, why should we go to the movies? Can you remember when a 26” or 28” set was considered large. Now 36” is looked upon as small.

My brother-in-law is a journey man electrician, who has been updating his home with security cameras, audio equipment, and now computer networking cabling. I see the effort that he is taking, and I point out to him some common mistakes when it comes to securing this wiring. I have an acquaintance who is providing wireless systems for small offices, and this just may be the next phase for the home.

I am an early adopter with some technology, but other advances I shirk away from. I wonder is it worth it updating your home, when so much of the hardware is updated along with the software. No sooner than when you buy your hi-def equipment, and you find out about Blue-ray. I also wonder if so much emphasis should be placed on interior space. Will our children continue to gain weight if we focus more on the yard?

Now Congress has weighed in on the matter, and they wish to see affordable homes with the wiring in place for all of this new age of the wired home. With companies trying to control cost and energy prices staying high, telecommuting will become a common place work form. Our homes will be wired.

How can we maintain a home to meet new technological demands? Wiring in the attic is possible for the homeowner, but it might not be the best option if the cabling needs to be changed, or added onto. We also want to make exterior walls more thermally dense for energy efficiency. I was attempting to think of a solution to such issues, when I looked down upon my baseboard. Moving the board away from the wall will create a space for cabling, which could be changed out easily. Actually this procedure of removing the board to place a backing block to hold it away from the wall would not be too difficult. With a larger base board system, PEX tubing can be run for water with cabling and wiring for equipment and receptacles. In this way, systems can be worked on, added onto, and updated by removing the baseboard, instead of the wall covering material.

Connectivity may become the “in” word for the home. However, I am going to wait a while to see which technology will be affordable and permanent (or at least with a lifespan of twenty years).

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