Electricity. I like having it available. Most home builders
will follow code which, in my opinion, does not give you enough
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
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
- 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
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
Consider 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.
Think about the furniture layout for each bedroom. You'll want
a double gang wherever you plan to have a bedside table, desk,
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.
I recommend a double gang on your vanity counter. This will
allow you to plug in a night light, blow dryer, etc. without
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
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.