Although electronic systems can fulfill some very basic needs — security, comfort and convenience — they are still considered luxury items and are therefore priced that way. Our advice is to think of whole-house music systems, home theaters, lighting systems and other electronics as upgrades, just like the marble countertops and stone fireplaces you might also choose for your home. Even the most basic home control system will probably set you back at least $3,000. Add in a home theater, a zoned heating and cooling system and a networking system, and you’re inching close to $10,000. That number is sure to climb even higher if you incorporate touchscreens, a state-of-the-art video projector and other high-end items. Fortunately, just like marble countertops, most electronic amenities can be rolled into the mortgage of a home.
Rolling Amentities into Your Mortgage
As long as an electronic system is a permanent fixture of your home, it can usually be integrated into your mortgage. Should you add a system after your home is finished, you can expect to spend at least twice as much, mostly due to the labor involved. Routing wire behind finished walls is much more labor intensive than routing it through open studs, for example. Plus, it may be harder to convince your lender that these features are in fact permanent pieces of your home.
As for components like big-screen TVs, computers and high-end remotes, these devices can also be rolled into the construction loan and amortized — but only if your builder offers those products. Should you add a component after approval of the construction loan, it’ll be an out-of-pocket expense. Moreover, equipment installed after a home is finished may not be covered under the builder’s warranty.
Should you hire an outside installation firm (a company that isn’t subcontracted by your builder) to install the electronic components and systems, keep in mind that most companies offer some type of financing plan that includes their labor and design time.
Prices for electronic systems vary greatly. The size of your home will usually determine how much you’ll pay (systems for a bigger house usually cost more than systems for a smaller house). The sophistication of the system will also impact the price. Labor fees will differ, too, depending on the experience and location of the installation firm you hire. Even if you can’t afford everything you want right away, at the very least, put the wiring for future systems in place before the construction of your home is finished. Security cameras, speakers and other components you might want to add down the line can be installed more affordably if the wire is already where it needs to be.