The electrician is winding down on the rough in wiring for the house, so we can get the rough in inspection done before the insulation starts.  As I mentioned in my last post about the electric, we were able to use a friend of the family as the electrician which has been nice.  He’s a semi-retired electrician that works alone, so as you might guess, it takes him a little longer than an entire crew.  The major benefit is that he really works WITH us to achieve what we’re looking to achieve with the electric.

Airborne or Underground?

You have two options for the utilities that come to the house, overhead or underground.  We are opting for underground, so we don’t have wires hanging overhead.  This adds a little bit more cost because it requires digging and conduit, but we think it’s worth it to not have wires overhead.

3 Breaker Panels

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Garage                                         Upstairs                                      Basement

In all of our previous houses we’ve only had one breaker box in the house.  While everything was in one spot, it was inconvenient to always have to go to the basement to flip breakers.  In the new house we have 3 breaker boxes, 2 of which we’ll use.  There’s one panel upstairs in the laundry room and one in the basement.  The 3rd panel is in the garage where the electric first comes into the house.  The addition of the panel upstairs means we won’t have to run all the way to the basement to flip a breaker if a hairdryer upstairs trips the breaker.  It seems like a minor thing, but it’s an added convenience.

Because we’re NOT finishing the basement now, but likely will in the years to come, we put a large panel in the basement that supports the 1st floor and exterior electric, along with having enough open circuits to wire the basement in the future.

Have Your Lighting Ready!

My wife and I hadn’t planned on picking our light fixtures until closer to the end of construction, but we found out very quickly that we needed to have many selections made so the electrician knew where to have the wiring.  Some examples include:

- Exterior Lighting (doors, garage, etc…)
- Bathroom Vanity Lighting (sconce or over mirror)
- Lights or light/fan combos
- Recessed

Knowing where you want each kind of lighting is important.  We chose to have all of the rooms wired for a ceiling fan and light combo to support future fan installations, but we are only putting 2 fan/lights in.

Shop Wisely – Use the Internet and Save a Hundreds

My wife and I hit all of the regulars for lighting, like Home Depot, Hull Electric, and even Value Home Center.  We ended up having the most luck shopping online.  The selection was much greater, the prices much better, and shipping was almost always free.  We ended up buy ALL of our light fixtures online.  I’ll do another post on who we bought from and what we bought.  We were able to find coupons online that helped us save hundreds of dollars beyond the already better prices the sites had.

Recessed Lights Seem Expensive Until You Compare

If you are like my wife and I, you want your foyer, family room, living room, dining room and master to have nice lights.  Nice lights equal big price tags.  We were surprised when we heard the rough cost of an installed recessed light and assumed we wouldn’t be using many.  While we really didn’t use a ton, it became apparent that they were actually a savings over some fixtures. 

Recessed lighting also provides a nice open feel in a space because you don’t have a light hanging down.  Our Kitchen, Breakfast Nook, and Family Room are all connected, so we didn’t want a bunch of hanging lights that hung in the way.  So, we went with recessed lighting in the 3 rooms.

New Code, New Outlets

Our electrician mentioned to us that the electrical code will be changing soon and that all receptacles will have to be tamper proof receptacles.  You can read more about them at the link I provided, but they basically don’t allow anything in the prong-holes (technical, I know :)), unless you put something in both of them.  This will stop children from putting a paperclip in one of the slots and getting fried. 

Our electrician said they are the same price from him as regular receptacles so we decided to go for it.  We have two little ones now, and piece of mind is worth it!