Custom Home

The Budget

Choosing a Builder

The Lot

Architectural Design

Windows and Doors

Interior Design

Foundations

Framing

Air Conditioning

Electrical

Plumbing

Pre-wire

Cabinetry

Brick and Stone

Insulation

Sheetrock

Flooring

Appliances

Paint and Wall Coverings

Lighting

ESI Phone System

Feedback

Q&A

Say What?

Electrical

Electricity. I like having it available. Most home builders will follow code which, in my opinion, does not give you enough receptacles.

Basic code is that there has to be a receptacle within six feet of a door or room opening. Receptacle spacing should be such that no point along the floor line is more than six feet from a receptacle outlet. The maximum distance between two receptacles is twelve feet.

To begin, look at your floor plan and try to estimate code. Oftentimes, your architect will indicate this on the electrical section of the floor plan. Next, decide which walls need more outlets. Count the outlets you added and then ask your builder how much they will charge for each additional outlet.

Think about areas where you will want to change from a single-gang (two outlets per receptacle) to a double gang (four outlets per receptacle).

You need to consider lighting. There are many options that affect how you wire your home:

  • Wall sconces
  • Lighted ceiling fans
  • Track lighting
  • Recessed cans
  • Stair safety lighting
  • Lamps
  • Fluorescent lighting
  • Rope lighting
  • Undercabinet lighting
  • Overcabinet lighting
  • Hanging fixtures
  • Lighted bookshelves or cabinets

One of your best options is to take your floor plan to your builder's source for lighting fixtures. Have them help you plan ahead.

The Kitchen

Think about spots where you will want extra outlets. Will you leave some appliances like a toaster on the counter at all times? I would have double gangs in those locations.

Don't neglect an island. Receptacles on an island will be very useful if you have a party and want to set plate warmers or crock pots on the island.

If you have an appliance garage, I recommend including a small fluorescent light inside, along with a single gang outlet.

Depending upon your cabinetry, you can have fluorescent lighting under and above your cabinets for a nice effect.

The Master Bedroom

Recessed LightingConsider special lighting for your master bedroom. Make it romantic. Our master bedroom has 10 foot ceiling with an 11 foot recessed tray ceiling that conceals rope lighting and gives a great effect.

Some ceiling fans are made with indirect up lighting. This also gives an elegant look.

We installed two recessed ceiling lights above the bed that are individually switched at the sides of the bed. This makes it easy for reading.

I recommend a double gang on the left and right side of the bed. This will provide the sockets needed for an alarm clock, lamp, and telephone, if necessary.

Bedrooms

Think about the furniture layout for each bedroom. You'll want a double gang wherever you plan to have a bedside table, desk, or TV.

Use three-way light switches in your bedroom. Place one of the light switches at the entry of the room and one near the bed. This allows you to turn on/off the lights without getting out of bed.

Bathrooms

I recommend a double gang on your vanity counter. This will allow you to plug in a night light, blow dryer, etc. without any difficulty.

I'm a believer in having a single gang outlet inside your medicine cabinet. This allows you to have your electric shaver or toothbrush plugged in but out of sight. If your builder says this isn't possible (I've got four of them in my home), then have an outlet installed inside the cabinet below the vanity.

Closets

I like having outlets in my closets. I recommend having them higher on the wall (44") so that they can be used to plug in things like rechargeable flashlights or dust busters. I even put one in our pantry.

Another useful feature is the door jamb light switch. These are the little devices that turn on the closet light when you open the door. They are inexpensive and very convenient. We used them on every closet.

Laundry room

If you plan to have a freezer in your utility room, don't forget a dedicated outlet. If it will have an icemaker, don't forget water.

We have a built-in ironing board with power inside the cabinet. We also wired for both an electrical or gas dryer. That way you are not limited in future choices.

Check out the Whirlpool Duet series of washer and dryer. They are full size, front loading, and stackable. We actually have a dryer on the left, a washer on the right, and another dryer stacked up on the washer. This requires some advance planning because you have to get several things right, including the cabinetry, electrical wiring, gas lines, and dryer ducts.

I recommend undercabinet lights in a utility to help light the countertop. There is nothing worse than trying to find a stain in low light.

Media room

Any place you are going to have audio and video equipment, make sure you have a dedicated circuit, also called a home run. This prevents interference from lighting, ceiling fans, appliances, etc. Also ensure that you will have plenty of outlets and enough power to them to power multiple devices.

I recommend having a media room consultant help design your electrical choices. Locations like the family room and media room will need enough outlets to power the equipment, and they will need to be in the proper locations also. Don't forget electricity for ceiling-mounted projectors.

Garage

Don't neglect your garage. I believe in adding extra outlets. If you have a planned work area, make sure that there are plenty of double gangs for plugging in electrical tools.If you have a closet in your garage, have some outlets inside so that you can plug in rechargeable equipment.

Don't forget your sprinkler system control box. Decide where you want it to go, and then make sure there is an outlet within a few feet of it.

Upstairs and downstairs

Take a look at the design of your home. Any location that does not have attic space above it will be very difficult to add future lighting. It is important to plan for the future and get it right now, because it will be next to impossible to add lighting to a first floor room that has second floor space above it without tearing out a lot of sheetrock.

Speaking of stairs, if you want to have stair safety lighting, don't forget to add the wiring for it.

Advance wiring for track lighting

We pre-wired our home for track lighting. We looked at every wall that might hold a painting or some kind of art, and placed an electrical source in the ceiling where the light would be mounted. Instead of just leaving a coil in the ceiling, have the electricians put a box in the ceiling and cover it with a plate. You can then paint the plate the color of the ceiling.

Exhaust Fans

All exhaust fans should vent to the outside of your home. We put exhaust fans in both standard and unusual locations:

  • Utility room - This is especially important for a small utility room. Code does not allow for return vents for your A/C in a utility room, so an exhaust fan will help get rid of heat.
  • Over showers or bath tubs. They suck the heat and humidity out of the room.
  • Over toilets. They help with the smell and privacy/noise.
  • Over vanity sinks - Is your vanity separate from the toilet and/or bath? When you have those vanity lights turned on, you might wish you had a way to get rid of the heat. Again, A/C return vents are not allowed in a bathroom.

Our master bath ended up with about four exhaust fans: over the shower, over the tub, in the toilet enclosure, and over the vanity sinks.

Ceiling fans

We probably have more ceiling fans than most homes. We wired each ceiling fan for a separate switch for a light kit. No room can have too much light. We put ceiling fans in unusual locations.

Circuit Breaker Boxes

Your electrical contractor is going to try to find ways to save money. One will be to leave you with a circuit breaker box with no room for expansion. Ensure that you will have the ability to add future circuits if necessary.

Balthazar Custom Homes

If you are looking for a great custom home builder in Dallas, check out John Balthazar of Balthazar Custom Homes. He is fair and knowledgeable. His quality is first-rate. He uses great sub-contractors.

You can contact John at 972-618-7653.

 

Outdoor receptacles

Don't forget the outlets outdoors. I like to have them on both sides of the front entry. This allows you to plug in special lighting. Make sure there is an outlet near the air conditioning units. Your A/C repairman will appreciate it. Otherwise, I recommend outlets every 20-30 feet.

We had boxes placed outside for future outdoor landscape lighting. It is best to have it switched indoors in a closet.

Outdoor lighting

We have outdoor lighting for:

  • Garage entry
  • Back yard
  • Front elevation of home, especially the street address plate.
  • Side yard.

You can get a very big light that will cover most of your back yard. This is useful for evening parties.

Soffit outlets

I like outlets outside on the soffits for Christmas lights. Have them switched inside with the switch located in a closet. That way you can turn off the Christmas lights before you go to bed.

We put them around the entire house so that we could have special lighting out back for parties.

Make sure they give you enough juice so that you can plug as many lights in as you need.

Swimming pool equipment

If you plan to have a swimming pool in your future, plan ahead for its electrical requirements. You can contact a pool builder and have them come out to advise you. Just be fair and tell them in advance that you want help planning for a future pool.

Find out where the pool equipment will most likely go and what type of electrical service it will need. That way you can pre-wire for it and not have the expense of trying to add electricity after your house is built.

 

Discussions

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This is also the best place to get your questions answered.

  

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