Multiroom AV
Modern Upgrades for an Old Home
Think your remodel was difficult? Here’s how a 200-year old home, complete with stonewalls, was wired for whole-house control.
The home’s stone walls presented a very hard obstacle, but with a lot of determination the owners now enjoy a very modern whole-house control and entertainment system. Photo by Scott Braman.
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September 28, 2007 by Steven Castle

This Maryland house has a whole-house control system, security cameras, 13 zones of audio distribution, a wireless computer network, geothermal heating, sensors for water leaks and humidity, a surround-sound system and a DVD movie server.

Must be a new home, right? Try 1781—as in the days of George Washington. That’s when the original structure was built. A renovation of the modest Quaker-style house was done in 1814, and a few years ago, the current homeowners added a wing with a family room on the first floor, a master bedroom above and a host of modern, high-tech accoutrements throughout the house. Electronics installer Gramophone of Timonium, MD, and builder Chad Neal of Whispering Meadows, in Freeland, MD, had to deal with many walls of plaster and lath construction (made up of thin strips of wood that support the plaster). Even worse, some walls of stone are 18 to 26 inches thick. So running wire was difficult—and this house received a complete electrical rewiring.

“They wanted an old house but with all the modern things,” Gramophone’s Lance David says of the homeowners. “The builder tried to save as much of the original structure as possible. It has all the same floors and walls, and refurbished material was used in the addition.”

To wire through those stone and plaster and lath walls, David explains that some channels had to be cut. It makes for messy, hard work. “It took half a day to bore a hole in the wall,” says Neal. “But now we don’t have all this stuff on the wall. When we were pulling wires, we made sure there was plenty Category 5 [high-speed cable] to every place we could so no one would have to knock down walls for another hundred years.”

A conduit that carries wire and any future upgrades was also run from the family room in the new wing to the rack of equipment in a former kitchen in the basement. Six inches of stone wall, floor to ceiling, had to be removed to accommodate the two racks of audio/video gear, Crestron whole-house control processors, a Kaleidescape hard drive–based movie and music server and more.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.


System Design and Installation
Timonium, MD

Whispering Meadows
Freeland, MD

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