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New Homes and Electrical Wiring

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What everyone building a new home needs to know about electrical systems.

Congratulations! By now, you're well on your way to getting things started on your now home.

This web page has been prepared to assist you in one of the most puzzling aspects of your new home: the electrical.

Most people just think of where they want the switches and outlets, and what style of light fixtures and fans.  But the electrical is much more than that. With a myriad of possibilities, this brochure has been designed to assist you in making the choices concerning your electrical installation that will provide you with the maximum comfort, capability and above all, safety.

At the end of this brochure, you will find a list of many of the things you will need to decide before having your house wired. Keep in mind that in order for you to get everything you want in your new home, the electrician must be aware of your wants and needs!

You may think your first thing to think about has to do with style, color or design. But that would be getting ahead of yourself.  The most important choice is your electrical contractor.

Choosing the right electrician is one of the most important choices to make for your new home. Great homes don't just happen, they are planned. And starting with a great plan will ultimately lead to an even greater home.  It's always best to ask around. Ask your friends, neighbors and co-workers who they would recommend. Your builder can be a great source, too. Not only do you need to choose one that is willing to work with you, they need to be licensed, bonded and insured. As a rule, lending institutions will require this.

Don't try to save money by hiring someone who isn't licensed. If there is a problem, you will most likely be left with a sub-standard, or worse yet, an unsafe, installation.

Be sure to check out your electricians' credentials. If they are honest with you, they will have no problem with you doing so. And be sure to ask for references, too. Electrical contractors succeed only by doing good work.

And remember, communications is the key! Be sure to know your electrician's phone number and e-mail address so you can keep in touch!

Rules and Regulations

There are many rules and regulations all electricians must abide by. The most notable is the National Electrical Code. This "Code" has been in force since 1897, and is considered the electricians' Bible.  This Code contains all the requirements for wiring your new home. It has a mandatory set of rules for every structure, and your home should be wired to this minimum.

It is published by the National Fire Protection Association in Batterymarch Park, MA, and is updated every three years. The current version is the 2014 edition.  In addition, your electrician should be familiar with the local building codes as well. These local codes may be different than the national code, but will most likely be more stringent.

These codes are put in place to provide you with a safe home. In order to do this, an electrical permit must be obtained by the electrician. Once rough-in wiring is completed, they will call for an inspection. This is done by the local inspector, who is legally called the "Authority Having Jurisdiction."

Another inspection is required after all the electrical work is done. If anything isn't right, it is the electricians' responsibility to correct it.

2014 Book

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork....

Binders

By now, you've figured out that building a home take a lot of paperwork. And that doesn't include the floor plans! Everyone involved will generate some amount of paperwork. Bids, estimates, contracts, mortgages, change orders, all involve paperwork.

But it's a necessary evil. And electrical contracting is no different. The intent behind a contract is to spell out precisely what you, as the homeowner, can expect to receive and how much it will cost you.

Starting out by soliciting bids, you then choose your electrical contractor and sign a contract. As your house progresses, it may be required to alter the contract, which is done with a 'Change Order."

Before making any payment, you will need to obtain a 'Lien Waiver' from all those who work on your house. This is to protect you in case a subcontractor fails to pay his suppliers for materials that went into your house.

Although it sounds trivial, do not attempt to build your house without the necessary paperwork. Keeping accurate and up-to-date paperwork is essential to prevent your dream house from becoming a nightmare.

Choices, Choices, Choices....

Now it's time to start thinking about what you're going to put into your house. No doubt you've already decided on the style. And that style will determine everything from the look of the light fixtures to the type and color of the switches.

Most electricians will not supply the light fixtures, as there are too many to choose from, and that choice is best left up to you. But they do supply the 'devices', things like switches, receptacles, dimmers, timers and the like.

You will need to decide what color and style of devices go best with your new home, and confer with your electrician as to your choice. Keep in mind you are not limited to one style or color. You can 'mix and match' as needed. For instance, you may want white in the family room, black in the kitchen to match the black granite countertop, and brown in the office with its wood walls.

Outlet 1 Light Switch 1 Outlet 2 Light Switch 2

But whatever you want, be sure your electrician knows about it!


Other Options for Electrical

Now to get down to the real fun... what is available in the electrical trade. You've probably already seen some of the things out there.

Undercabinet lights, in-floor heating systems, alarm systems, satellite dishes, home theaters, the list is endless.

And your electrician should be able to handle your needs and wants, no matter how exotic. From simple home telephone wiring to sophisticated whole-house sound systems, it all falls to the electrician to make it happen.

Not to mention stand-by generators and transfer switches, holiday lighting systems on timers, whole-house surge protection, whirlpools, spas and hot tubs, all are options that must be considered when designing your homes electrical system.

Alarm Generator Hot Tub Wine Cooler

The First Steps to Wiring Your Home

At his point, your home is framed, the roof is on, and the interior framing is completed. Now is the time to call your electrician. Outside of providing for temporary power, the first meeting at the job site with the electrician will be a 'walk-through.' It is now you will need to have all the decisions made about what you want, and where.

During the walk-through, the electrician will discuss with you every choice you have made. Where you want the switches, receptacles, dimmers, fans, and the like.

Here, you and the electrician will begin the first step in wiring your home. By knowing everything you want in your house, he will be able to provide the correct wiring for every electrical component that goes into your new home.

It cannot be stressed enough that all the information required for all the electrical devices and appliances will need to be obtained before this point. Does the whirlpool have a heater? Are you planning on motion sensors outside? Are the ceiling fans controlled by a hand-held remote? Is the water heater gas or electric?

These answers must be provided to the electrician before rough-in begins. It is only by knowing everything you want that he will be able to provide you with it all.


The Rough-In Stage

You've heard the old adage, "Timing is everything." And it's true with your electrical system as well. The electrician needs to wait until all the framing is complete, and the HVAC and plumbing systems have been installed before he can truly begin.

Rough Stage 1
Rough Stage 3

He will take the information gained during the walk-through and begin the actual wiring of your home. Depending on what you want, this may take a few days or several weeks. He begins by laying out all the boxes, panels, and other material where needed. Then holes are drilled in the framing members for running the required wiring.

When all the wiring is in place, it is spliced together and tucked back into the boxes. When this is all done, the inspector is called. Then the wall finishes can begin.

In the Meantime...

Once the electrical rough-in has been completed, it is time to move on to insulation and wall finishes. Now the electrician may not be seen much, as he must wait until the walls are finished, cabinets are in place, and other trades complete their respective work.

But that doesn't mean the electrician doesn't need to be at the job site. He may be doing landscape lighting, the electrical service, or other work as required in the meantime.

Now is the time to start purchasing your fixtures, fans, and whatever else you are required to supply, because the electrician is going to need them soon!

Time for Trimming!

Next to last in the wiring of your home is the trim-out. This is when everything comes together, all the planning pays off, and things come to life. Switches and outlets are installed. Light fixtures are hung. And power is turned on for the first time to most of the house.

Trimmer Trim Out

It's an exciting time, since many other things are happening and you can get a real sense of the house.

The heat and air conditioning is on, the walls are painted, the cabinets are in, and the plumber is finishing the bathrooms and the kitchen. The trim carpenter is also installing the moldings, baseboards, and interior doors.


Turn Over

Fuse Boxes

The final stage in your home's new electrical system is the "Turn-Over." Your system is complete, has been tested for proper function, and has received a final inspection.

Now the electrician will take some time with you to make sure you understand how the electrical system in your new home works.

There' are dimmers and fan controls to learn. Where the main panel is, and what each circuit breaker controls. How do you start your back-up generator? How do you set the timer for your Christmas lights?

What do you do if the receptacle in the Master Bath has a red light on? These are all things that will be explained to you during a final walk-through during turn-over.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

At last, your new house is nearing completion! Floor coverings are going down, the landscaper is wrapping things up outside, and you are starting to feel good about finishing.

Once all the craftsmen who worked on your house are done, it's time to move in! When you're settled in, you can finally enjoy your new home! Imagine... cooking in your new gourmet kitchen, relaxing in the hot tub with the whole family, and watching the latest movie in your home theater!

Kitchen
Theater

Sitting on the deck enjoying a summer breeze is always enjoyable, and being able to park both vehicles in the garage is a plus!

This may seem too far in the future right now to visualize, but with some good planning, preparation and making the right decisions now, you will be able to create the home of your dream!


Checklist for Electrical

The following is a list of many of the things that need to be decided when you are in the planning stages of your new home. Keep in mind this list is by no means complete. It is intended to start you thinking about what you are going to want in your new house.

Exterior:

Landscape lighting

Yard light

Motion sensors

Recessed lighting above deck/porch

Ceiling fan above deck/porch

Wall Scones?

Outside receptacles?

Bedrooms:

Ceiling fans? With or without lights?

Switched receptacles?

TV, telephone or internet service?

Living areas:

Ceiling fans? With or without lights?

Recessed lights?

Switched receptacles?

TV, telephone or internet service?

Entertainment center?

Will you need separate circuits for sound system, video system, or big screen/plasma TV?

Fireplace?  If so, does it require constant power, switched power, or both?  Is switching done with high (120volts) or low (milli-volt) voltage?  Does the fireplace blower have an external motor speed control?  Is the fireplace remote-controlled (radio) ?

Are you going to have a bar?

Are there special needs in this area? Refrigerator? Wine cooler?

Kitchen

Are appliances gas or electric?  If cooktop is gas, does it still need power for an igniter?

Undercabinet lighting? Any lighting on top of upper cabinets? Or any lighting inside the cabinets?

Waste Disposer? Dishwasher? Trash compactor?

Recessed lights?

Is the refrigerator a 'built-in?'

Are you planning an island?

Is there going to be an appliance 'garage?'

Is the plumber installing an instant hot water dispenser?

Are you planning any unusual appliances, such as a bread warming drawer or wine chiller? Or a dedicated (lift-up) appliance cabinet?

Other options to consider:

Are you installing a fire suppression (sprinkler) system?

Are you planning any under-tile electric floor heat?

Is an electronic air cleaner being installed in the furnace?

Are you having a hot tub or spa? If so, what are the electrical requirements?

Is there a whirlpool in any of the bathrooms? If so, do any have an internal water heater?

What kind of air system are you installing? Conventional forced-air gas or Geo-thermal?

Do you need a security system? Does it need to be monitored?

Are you installing a back-up generator? What will you need to have it operate?

Do you want receptacles controlled by a timer for holiday lighting?

Are you going to have a central vacuum?

Have you heard about whole-house surge protection?

Which lights do you want on dimmers?

Is the garage heated?

Is the clothes dryer gas or electric?

Is the water heater gas, electric or run off the geo-thermal system?  If gas, does it still need electric for igniter or direct vent?

Where do you need telephone, TV and internet connections?

Are you going with satellite TV or cable?  Do you need a standard antenna for local channels?

Have you considered an intercom system?

Are you installing conventional garage door operators or the new 'I-drive' type?

Are you having an office? What do you need for power, phone, fax & internet services?

Do you need a dedicated circuit for a freezer?

Are you having a built-in ironing board?

Do you want lights in the closets?

This entire page is © 2005 by Code Electric.

Other necessary information needed:

Do your floor plans have the correct door swings shown?

Do you have a complete set of detailed plans for all your cabinets? This includes all kitchen, bar and bathroom layouts, as well as the layout of any walk-in closets.

Do any other building trades have special electrical needs?

Is there any future electrical needs that require addressing now?

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