I Wish I Had Thought About That – Electrical

Building a new home can become a daunting task without a little guidance.  There are so many things to consider that it is easy to miss something.  In the case of electrical items, remembering too late either means doing without or expensive repairs, including special trip charges for the electrician and drywall contractor and perhaps re-inspection fees.

Here are some of the ideas you may want to consider:

□    Outlet for irrigation system – this should be located in the Garage

□    Master bedroom bedside outlets and lighting

  • Each night-stand light should be on separate 3 way switch from door to bedroom
  • Outlet on each side of the bed for an alarm clock/radio/CD player
  • Provision for night reading – mini recess lights with spot bulbs, switched at bedside – allows reading without disturbing partner
  • Outlet for electric blanket
  • Outlet for heating pad
  • Outlet for plug-in type reading light in lieu of special recessed lights
  • Outlet for nursery monitor

□     TV and equipment – where will the main TV viewing take place?  Will you have additional TV’s throughout the house?

□     Computer – location for desktop computer and internet modem

□     Technology wiring – it’s best to consult a specialist contractor for the latest techniques.  Innovation in this area is happening rapidly

  • TV
  • Phone
  • Alarm

□     Satellite TV cabling – if you plan to install a dish it’s best to determine the location and provide cabling to that location during construction.  The last thing you want is to have a contractor drill holes in your brand-new home to install a satellite dish.

□      Basement outlet for refrigerator

□      Christmas lighting outlets and switches

  • Outside for lights
  • Inside for lighting on stair rails

□      Bedroom lights – whether you switch an outlet for a lamp or utilize a ceiling outlet, provide a 3 way switch to the side of the bed.

□      Closet lights – door activated switches are a nice luxury touch

□      Sconces – use them in hallways in place of ceiling lights.  Use them in Dining Rooms, Living Rooms and at fireplaces for accent and mood lighting

□      Dining room lights – measure your furniture and locate it on a plan of your new home.  This will help you center the ceiling fixture.  Will a single light be enough?  If you have a large dining table you may want to add recess lighting in addition to the main ceiling fixture.

□      Heights of light fixtures – work with your interior designer or your light fixture supplier to determine the proper height for each hanging light fixture.  That way your fixtures will be supplied with the correct length of chain.  This will also prevent charges for re-hanging.

□      Provision for future wiring – consider installing a pipe or chase from the 2nd floor attic to the basement to provide a path to run additional cables.  This inexpensive item can save hundreds of dollars in future drywall repairs and man-hours of expensive electrician time.

□      Decora – this style of outlets, switches and dimmers is very popular

□      Dimmers – very nice feature, although this is one item that can be done after closing

□      Chandelier lift units – somewhat expensive, but a great thing to have if you don’t have a ladder tall enough to reach a light fixture in a 2-story room.  Just turn the key and the chandelier lowers to waist height level for easy cleaning

□      Recessed lighting – add them sparingly or often depending on your taste and budget

□      Kitchen lighting

  • Undercabinet task lighting – LED fixtures with dimming capability are now available
  • Over cabinet accent lighting
  • Top of cabinet accent lighting for cabinets with glass doors and glass shelves

□      Whole house lighting controls – there are lighting systems available that can be programmed with various “Scenes”.  These can control all or just some of your lighting.  You can also control them via smart phones.  Consult an expert if you want to install one of these systems.

□      Landscape lighting, outdoor lighting and outlets

□      Prep for electric car charging in the Garage

□      Prep for generator – you will need to decide whether you will use a portable or permanent generator (your community may have restrictions an rules on generators – consult your building department)

□      Additional electrical circuits

□      Size of meter

□      Ceiling fans – use of ceiling fans can reduce the need to operate air-conditioning

□      Floor outlets – plan your furniture layouts to determine locations

□      Reinforced outlets for heavy light fixtures – usually Foyers and Dining Rooms

□      Special electrical outlet locations for appliances – some refrigerators require outlets in specific locations

□      Pilot switches – these switches enable you to know whether exterior lights (usually) are on if you switch them from multiple locations

□      Multi-point switching – very handy for providing a path of light when walking through the home at night

When the rough electrical is completed, take your digital camera and photograph each wall and ceiling, room by room.  When you have finished mark up plans with the photo numbers (use 8 ½” x 11” plans).  Don’t forget the Garage and Basement. Scan the marked up plans and burn to a disc with all the photos.  If you ever have to make any plumbing or electrical modifications your contractor will thank you for the information.

This list is by no means complete, but it should help you avoid expensive late changes and repairs. Comments and additions to this list are very welcome. Happy building.

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