A Very Apple Basement Remodel - Now Underway!

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We've been talking about the BIG project for quite a while. It's the basement remodel.

And now, we're finally started.

But what steps do we have to take to ensure that we end up with the iOS-enabled smart home we want?



Our hosue was built in 2008, with an unfinished basement. Fortunately, the bathroom was "roughed-in", meaning that the requisite drains were already in place.

I'd always assumed that finishing the basement meant finishing the bathroom, walling in the utility room and the bathroom, and leaving the rest of the room as an open living area.

Like this:

I also figured that we could primarily do the work ourselves.

After meeting with 2 different basement contractors, I realize that I was likely wrong on both counts.

We aren't going to be able to do the ceiling ourselves, and we CERTAINLY aren't able to handle the necessary adjustments to our sprinkler system (mandatory in our village for houses built after a certain date.)

The HVAC and electric work also presented a challenge that we weren't really willing to tackle.

So, time to turn it over to the professionals. At least for the first phase of the project.

And if we're going to be spending that kind of cash, we need to add as much equity to the place as we can. The best way to do that? Turn our 4-bedroom house into a 5-bedroom house.

So, the pool table area on the floorplan above has become a bedroom.

We're also creating a storage area, toward the "bottom" of the floorplan above. This is created by adding a landing, and "turning" the stairs a bit higher - which we'd wanted to do anyway.

But what do we need to do to ensure that we complete our AAAD mission of "building an iOS home"?

Bottom line - we need to make sure that we take any necessary steps to make HomeKit work better, and to get content to our AppleTV more quickly.

First Step - Home Server

Adding a storage room in the basement costs us living space, but it has one major benefit - I can finally have a home server, hidden away from view.

We're going to be getting a server box - something like the one pictured here.

I'll be rackmounting a few things - a Mac Mini running OSX Server, most importantly.

Yes, you can rackmount a Mac Mini - people make enclosures designed to do exactly that.

We'll also add a power source/surge protector, some external storage (eventually) and a rackmounted ethernet switch (The reasons for which are discussed below).

I'd also like to relocate a BUNCH of "single purpose" boxes to this room - the MyQ Internet Gateway, the ADT Pulse box, and so on.

They all need to be connected via Ethernet, and that's going to be a lot simpler when we have a 24-node Ethernet switch....

Second Step - Wired Internet. 

Wi-fi is great. However, I don't want to be reliant on it ALL the time. We're closing up the ceiling - This is our last chance to run CAT-6 ethernet cables throughout the basement and first floor.

This is actually a bit trickier than I'd originally thought. I'm going to have to map out exactly where the wires should run.

Cable (and therefore, the internet) enters our house in the top-left corner of that floorplan. The server room is going to be at the bottom left, directly below our home office, where the cable modem and router are currently located.

(And, for that matter, where they'll STILL be located later.)

The "data" coaxial runs from the "top" of the basement to a wall plate in our home office. That's where it connects to the modem, and the Airport Extreme.

We'll need one CAT6 cable from the Airport Extreme, upstairs, BACK to the Ethernet switch downstairs.

That ethernet switch will be doing some heavy lifting - we'll have the ADT, the MyQ, and likely a Lutron Caseta box directly connected, and inside the server enclosure.

We'll also run ethernet cabling throughout the basement, and (most importantly) to the home theater in the living room (above the "top left" of the basement).

Getting the Ethernet into the home theater would allow us to directly connect our DirecTV box, our AppleTV, and our BluRay player - the most important of those, of course, being the AppleTV.

That's going to involve some wall-fishing, and some drilling. But, it's pretty much our last chance... time to get started.

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