Hi Tim S2,
You have received some good advice. I like the way you are headed:
“For the record, the setup will be pretty simple. I will have a central music system to serve multiple zones. For video, I'll probably have cable run to 3 TVs where I want to share the DVR between them. There will be maybe one blu ray player and then internet streaming for each. The latter, I guess I could do with just hooking a Chromecast to each TV easily enough. If the blu ray player could switch to any of the TVs that would be great but if it adds on a lot to the expense, not necessary.”
Also I note you said this:
“The builder has a professional installer who will be doing the wiring so I will talk to them about how to get all of that setup properly.”
Before adding my opinions and experiences the caveat is that it has been about 12 years since I did this type of work professionally. I spent 5 years working at a company that after decades as a high-end audio dealer morphed into whole house A/V and lighting control integrator. We did everything from hanging plasma HDTVs on walls to many systems in multi-million dollar homes where just the whole house A/V and lighting control had +$100,000 budgets. The big changes in the 12 years after I moved on is the rise of streaming content over IP and HDMI replacing analog video.
We are posting this on a site dedicated to HiFi talking about Whole House Systems. Once past the fact speakers and amplifiers are involved there is little overlap between these worlds. For example as audiophiles knowing I need to put my preamp on input 1 to listen to music on my DAC is a trivial detail, a given that is not even mentioned. If a user of your whole house system is forced to think in those terms that is an epic fail right out of the starting blocks. Therefore my first advice is when discussing the system plan with your builder’s ‘professional installer’ ask first about the user experience of the completed system, those requirements should drive the pre-wiring. Control can be from buttons on a wall mount keypad, dedicated touch panel displays (Crestron is the gold standard) or apps on your smart phones and tablets. Regardless of the physical form of the human interface it should present activity functions NOT devices. The buttons should be labeled for functions like ‘Watch TV’, ‘Watch Movies’, ‘Listen to Music’ NOT source devices like ‘CD’, ‘FM’, ‘Cable Box’, ‘Blu-ray/DVD’. Behind the scenes this means the installer/programmer is dealing with the minutia of power up/down, source selection/control, and routing that to the room(s) desired. Lots of devils in lots of details there, you want the installer to deal with that once and program it into the system. The alternative is keep your phone handy to answer the text message “why is there no sound on the TV in the family room, again?!?!??”
While discussing the desired results with the professional installer come to an understanding on who is supplying the equipment. Are you bringing HDTVs and other gear you already own or all new? On one extreme (the expensive extreme) the system installer/integrator provides everything as a turnkey system. A good one will select that equipment to be automation friendly so the control system will be reliable. At the other extreme (dollars least expensive, your sweat equity bigger investment) the builder and professional installer deliver agreed upon signals to specified locations and the homeowner wires it up.
Err on the side of running extra cables before the sheet rock goes up. We used to run three video coax, a L/R audio twisted pair, and two CAT5 to every drop. In 2017 I would swap that for two coax (or your suppliers favored long distance HDMI solution) and three CAT5/6. The redundancies help recover the inevitable sheet rock screw thru the bundle taking out a cable repair, but more importantly futureproof the install. In 2002 that extra CAT cable allowed IR signals from repeaters to go back and forth to/from the equipment rack. In 2017 multiple runs of CAT allow the smart HDTV plus other wired net connected devices to each connect to a router port. With analog video going away in favor of HDMI coax video is another discussion to have with your professional installer. Natively HDMI does not do well over distances but there are solutions. How many and where the analog audio L/R line level and speaker level cables go has a lot to do with the distribution architecture of the system. A simple system where all rooms play the same music can send speaker level analog to each room’s wall mount volume controls and from there to the ceiling/wall speakers. More complex configurations process control signals at the central equipment rack controlling different rooms/zones receiving unique programs. Those decisions need to be made before the pre-wire stage that happens early in construction (framing done, roof & outer walls on, before sheetrock on inner walls).
Well, that’s a bit of a brain dump. I will stop and see if that is helpful and if you have questions. At this point I see your first task as determining if this “builder has a professional installer” chap is a simple low voltage electrician who will install a bunch of cables OR a provider who will pre-wire the home and then return to install the equipment then program and de-bug the control system.