Homeowners who use computers, MP3 players, digital cameras, satellite or cable television, and other electronic equipment are asking for houses that make it easier to live with these devices. They want extra phone lines, easy housewide access to their high-speed Internet connection, and the ability to listen to music or watch TV in any room in the house.

The people who know how to make this happen refer to themselves as home-technology integrators. When I started installing home automation equipment in 1989, the first thing I learned was that the part you can't see — the in-wall wiring — is the most important part of the system. Back then, there were no standards for this type of wiring, but the...

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