Structural, Exterior, and Electrical Decisions – Part 2

In my previous post I shared details about the structural and exterior decisions I made for our home and why. As promised, here is part 2 of the ‘non-sexy’ series; Electrical decisions.

Before I dive into this post, I’d like to share a disclaimer: In no way am I a professional electrician, nor do I play one on T.V.

In this post I am going to offer some advice and tips regarding the placement and types of lighting and electricity in your home if you are building new, or undergoing a remodel. This will hopefully provoke some ideas to consider for your own plans, if not open your mind to “what-if” planning.

What-if planning? AKA: “Would have. Could have. Should have. And now I regret it.”

I live this reality daily in our current home.

“Why didn’t I just upgrade that fixture”? “I could have saved so much money if I just pre-wired for that from the get-go.” “Ugh, I should have thought about what we were going to us this space for in the future!” REGRET.

Okay, let’s discuss.

Building or remodeling a home is like having a perfect blank canvas. In many cases you will start from a plan like we have with Quadrant Homes, or it may be something provided to you by a custom planner. Either way, what you’ll have in front of you is a one size fits most plan.

Our electrical plan, AKA treasure map according to our 3 year old.

This is an excellent starting point and you may not need to change anything, but here is a list of considerations organized by space:

Front Porch

  • Switched eave outlets: Fancy talk for; plug your holiday lights in under your porch roof and turn them on with a lightswitch inside your house. Slick right? Just say “ho, ho, no” to freezing your butt off to turn on/off the holiday cheer! Total cost: $100ish
  • Lighting pre-wires: Most porch’s come with recessed lighting, a single sconce or some combination of the two. In my case I loved the look of hanging pendant lights but lacked the ability to have them unless I added 3 additional pre-wires on their own dedicated light switch now or hired an electrician to cut into my house and add them later. Total cost: $175ish
Credit: Pure Salt Interiors

Rear Patio

  • Ceiling fan pre-wire: Things I hate. Being sweaty, bugs, being sweaty. Did I mention I hate being sweaty? Ceiling fans on porches and patios are standard in many parts of the country. They are not in the Pacific Northwest. However, I digress. If you too hate being sweaty – add the fan. It moves the air around and blows away the bugs too. Win-win! Total cost: $160ish/per
  • Stereo speaker pre-wire: #AlexaPlayMyFavoriteSong. This is actually something I deleted from our plan during the budget trimming phase, however if we had the wiggle room for it, I absolutely would have kept it. I can see it now, #RegretICutIt. Total cost: $1,000ish
  • Switched eave outlets: Same song, second verse… Except on the rear patio consider things like bistro lights and patio heaters. Can you see it? Ambiance and comfort year round. Total cost: $100ish/per

Garage

  • Dedicated 110/15 Freezer Outlet: If you have more than two people living in your house, you might want the option to add a freezer in your garage for all that food you intend to consume. Unless you have an abundance of space in your kitchen to add an XL side-by-side fridge/freezer combo, this is a really nice-to-have. Freezers/fridges draw more power and typically need a dedicated outlet. Total cost: $260ish/per
  • Lighting pre-wire: Let there be light! I can never see anything in my current garage and it drives me nuts. Consider the work spaces you’ll have in the garage and add lighting pre-wires in places like your work bench, storage areas and entry door to the house. Total cost: $65ish/per
  • Outlets everywhere: Most garages come with one outlet per wall. Most power tools and charger cords are 6′ long. Do the math. If you’re okay with extension cords and power strips everywhere, this might work for you. If it makes you twitch a little, save your sanity and add at least once more outlet on all three walls. In our garage I had them put two quad outlets by my work bench at bench height so I can charge my batteries and run machines without tripping the breaker. Total cost: $60ish/per
Credit: Elite Tool Boxes

Kitchen

  • Additional recessed lights: If you read my previous post, I mentioned how I picked an elevation plan with loads of windows because natural light is always your friend. The same is true here, but in this case artificial light is your friend. My rule of thumb. You can NEVER have too much light. Pop them on a dimmer switch and on dark days crank them up. It’s good for the soul! Total cost: $130ish/per, qty discounts usually apply
  • Appliance pre-wire: Planning to add a wine fridge or built-in latte machine after the fact? Yep, you guessed it. Add the wiring now. Total cost: $60ish – 260ish depending on amps
  • Island outlets: Most islands come with at least one outlet. From experience I can say adding at least one more on the opposite end is a good idea. This will allow for cords to stay (mostly) off the counter and will prevent you from having to drape them from one end to another for small appliances or charging cords when you’re working in that space. Bonus points if you can tuck them into a sneaky hide away! Total cost: $60ish/per
  • Lighting pre-wire: Triple check your pendant situation. How many pendants do you want/need over your island? What kind of pendant or chandelier do you want over your nook or dining areas? If the solution isn’t there, add it. Total cost: $65ish – 160ish depending on fixture size
  • Perimeter outlets: This is a personal preference, but if it is possible, I recommend omitting outlets along the perimeter and instead have your builder tuck them up under your cabinets. This will create a cleaner look. Especially if you have a stunning backsplash to show off. Total Cost: $TBD
Credit: Lauren Smyth Design, Alturas Homes

Pantry

  • Appliance pre-wire: And I repeat… If you’re planning to add a wine fridge or built-in latte machine after the fact, add the wiring now. Total cost: $60ish – 260ish depending on amps
  • Lighting pre-wire: Again, triple check your lighting situation. Is it bright enough in there? If the solution isn’t there, add it. Total cost: $65ish – 160ish depending on fixture size
  • Perimeter outlets: Most pantry’s come with zero outlets. If you’re planning to add a workspace, shelf or otherwise in there, I would strongly recommend adding some easy to access outlets too. Total Cost: $60ish

Great Room / Living Space

  • Additional recessed lights: Light it up and get them on a dimmer switch to control the mood of the space. Your space will likely have four recessed lights included. That’s usually enough, but adding two more for good measure can’t hurt. Total cost: $130ish/per, qty discounts usually apply.
  • CAT6: If you have a smart TV that requires the internet, you’re better off hooking it directly into your home network. We have ours connected via WiFi now and it cuts out all the time. Total cost: $160ish
  • Flat screen pre-wire: This is a must have in this space if you are planning to mount your TV on the wall. All those cords can become unsightly and this will let you tuck them away like magic. Total cost: $300ish
  • In-floor outlets: This is a high end feature that works well if you know how big and where where your furniture will be. It’s a nice touch to not have cords dangling around as a trip hazard and it gives lamps that will flank chairs a higher end look because you can tuck the cords away neatly. Total cost: $250ish/per
  • Lighting pre-wire: If you’re considering installing a heavy duty chandelier or a ceiling fan in this space, this is a must have. Total cost: $65ish – 160ish/per depending on fixture size
  • Pendant light/Sconce pre-wire: This is a feature that adds huge wow factor for little investment. You can do pendants, sconces, art lighting, you name it. But you’re going to need power so plan this space carefully! Total cost: $60ish/per
  • USB outlets: These are great near the couches and chairs in the space that you plan on lounging in. Total cost: $30ish – 60ish/per
  • Surround sound pre-wire: The pre-wire part of this instal is going to be the least expensive. But if you think you will ever want this kind of system in this space, you may want to fork over the cash now. You can always buy and install the equipment later. Total cost: $1,000+ish

Home Office

  • Additional recessed lights: No one wants to work in a dark gloomy space. If your office space only has one light, consider adding some recessed lighting too. Total cost: $130ish/per, qty discounts usually apply.
  • CAT6: If you work from home all or part of the time, you’re going to want your computer hard-wired so you don’t get disconnected during important Team or Skype meetings. Total cost: $160ish
  • Flat screen pre-wire: This is another good place to add a flat screen prewire. I like to watch the news on my breaks or have the TV on for ambient noise sometimes when I work. Total cost: $300ish
  • In-floor outlets: This is a good idea if you like your desk in the center of the room. It allows you to drop a power cord vs. running it to the wall. Total cost: $250ish/per
Credit: Brittany Haines, ABD Studio

Bedrooms

  • Additional recessed lights: As I mentioned above, artificial light is your friend too. Recessed lights are especially nice in bedrooms and flex spaces if you put them on a dimmer. Total cost: $130ish/per, qty discounts usually apply.
  • CAT6: Go ahead and add a CAT6 here too if you plan to have a smart TV in your bedroom. Total cost: $160ish
  • Flat screen pre-wire: We’re not big TV in the bedroom people, but if you are you may want to consider adding this so you can run the cords behind the wall instead of dangling them below the TV. Total cost: $300ish
  • Lighting pre-wire: The bedrooms in your plan will typically come with a semi-flush fixture mount. This is okay in most secondary bedrooms, however in spaces like your master you may want to consider pre-installing a heavy duty receptacle if you plan to add a hefty fixture in the space. Total cost: $65ish – 160ish/per depending on fixture size
  • Pendant light/Sconce pre-wire: I love the look of a master or guest bed flanked by beautiful pendant lights. These won’t come standard, so you’ll want to be sure to add them ahead of time. Bonus tip: Measure the size of your headboard so you don’t end up accidentally blocking them. Total cost: $60ish/per
  • USB outlets: These are fantastic next to the bed stands for phone and tablet charges. It’s a small enhancement that can make your life a lot easier and they won’t tie up a traditional outlet. Total cost: $30ish – 60ish/per

Bathrooms

  • Pendant light/Sconce pre-wire: Bathrooms are a great place to dress up with sconces or pendant lights. Areas to place these include over the sink(s), aside mirrors or above free standing tubs. Total cost: $60ish/per
  • Stereo speaker pre-wire: The master bath is another place to consider installing speakers. Imagine soaking in your tub relaxing to your favorite tunes. Total cost: $1,000ish
Credit: Studio McGee

That about sums it up. I hope this was helpful if not affirming. What things did I miss or have you done or plan to do differently? I would love to hear from you, so drop a comment below. Or send me an email!

Until next time – stay well!

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