Electrical panel box to be placed by the front door entrance

ShmomeyJune 19, 2012

We are currently going through the electical install phase of our new house. I drove up to the property to notice a very large out door electrical box being hooked up right next to the front door entrance. I was really annoyed that we are building a custom home with a large electrical box next to the front door. Is that common? The electrician quoted us a $1000 bucks to move it next to the garage. We were not told of this flaw prior to the construction phase. Should some one eat the cost on this other than the home owner? I think the builder should of been aware of this flaw and quoted it in the original price of the home. It feel it will make the front entrance look pretty crappy. The electrician told us he had no other option as it relates to placement.

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By "out door electrical box" I assume you mean the main distribution panel that contains the main breaker (which will cut service to your entire house) and then a bunch of double and single breakers circuit breakers for the individual circuits.

I don't think I have EVER seen any house, whether a large custom house or a small tract home, that had the main distribution panel located right next to the front door. Those things are UGLY...but you don't want to disguise or hide them in any way because, in case of a fire, you want the firemen to be able to easily locate the main breaker to cut power. I can imagine that it might even be against the law to "hide" the panel so having it right next to the front door is totally unacceptable.

I think the main circuit breaker does have to be within a certain distance (probably a few feet) from where ever power enters your home but it seems really odd that they would bring power into your house right next to the front door. Even when the nearest utility pole is in the front yard, the house power line is run to the side or back of the house.

Why don't you try cross-posting your question on the "Electrical Wiring" forum here on Gardenweb? Perhaps there are experts over there that can tell you what your options might be. And some pictures, including one showing where the power line comes into your home might help.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 11:56AM
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It is called the meter socket with diconnects. They want to install it right next to the front door. They stated they hand no other option unless we spent an extra $1000 to move it to the gararge area on the side of the house. Would this be considered a design flaw? Why should we have to pay more?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 12:47PM
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he is just being lazy. he should know better. that being said since you did not specify location you will probably have to eat the cost.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 1:11PM
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I can hardly believe this one, who would do such a thing?

Have you talked to your GC/builder and architect/designer? I swear this is something that is outlined on the electrical portion of the plan (though I'm by no means an expert and I don't know for certain).

I have an excel spreadsheet organized by room/item of things I've learned through this site to specify, this is just one more going to the list to make sure it doesn't happen to me. My designer looks at me as if I'm nuts when I bring these things up, but it appears that it does happen.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 1:34PM
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Note for Laura12 - you're not nutz to keep any type of tracking & communication mechanism. You can track & specify every single thing, and some things will still come up to bite you - expect it - it's inevitable, but at least you will know that you've done your best!!

And just because you specified things, don't expect that to actually be done. Follow up / follow through. But if you specify, then at least you can point back to that when They don't do it right the first, second, or third time.

Our home did not turn out perfect, but it's a darn far cry better than others on our street who didn't (or couldn't) specify and track - all because we tracked, and forced them to re-do.

We brought water, doughnuts, and breakfast / lunch for the foreman. I learned how to say "Good Job!" and "Thanks!" in more than one language (but applause and big smile is universal sign of approval), and found one asst.foreman who could revise my signs which were left in English / Spanish after I looked up the desired phrase on freetranslation.com (signs like "Do NOT put heavy item on Granite. Do NOT set ANYTHING on Granite. Do NOT STAND on Island", "Do NOT put water bucket on wood floor.", "Clean ONLY with Water!", and my favorite [after we rented a de-humifier when builder was too cheap to turn on AC] "CLOSE THE DOOR AND WINDOWS!! De-Humidifier is running!").

Plan for the Worst.
Hope for the Best.

And putting the electrical panel adjacent to the front door is hideous. I would check & photograph every other house he's done, and speak with his boss, and make him MOVE THAT without having to pay - you HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 2:08PM
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It's impossible to know what's going on here.

But I can say that as a builder it's not uncommon for me to pay extra to locate electrical lines/boxes from the otherwise most straightforward entry. For instance, I prefer putting the panel in the garage rather than taking up a corner of a basement wall; and I will run conduits underground rather than along an exterior wall.

Just because the aesthetics don't suit you (and I agree) doesn't make it a "design flaw". It's part of the cost of a true custom house.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Laura, is that a spreadsheet that you got from this forum (I have one - I forgot who made it), or is it something you made up yourself? If so, would you be willing to share it? It sounds very handy to have before building!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 2:41PM
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I can't share the spreadsheet, but it was fairly easy to put together. The base is from a thread titled "small things that get forgetten" where MANY people contributed ideas and I combined it into categories (which I also posted on that thread).

I then created a seperate list with relevent items for us and in googledocs started a spreadsheet with one sheet for each room/item (for instance, master bedroom, great room, kitchen, and then a category for electical/plumbing and outdoors). We are currently still working with a designer and haven't finalized our floor plan yet, so the spreadsheet also has design information and photos (uploading the photos was a bit of a pain but worth it).

Doing this on googledocs instead of excel allows us to access it from anywhere, and anyone who we share it with can always access the most recent version (you can give them viewing rights or editing rights). It is also possible to access it from most smartphones.

I've also bought a few books that I'm currently working on adding information from
- How to make your house do the housework by Don Aslett
- Designing Your Dream Home by Susan Lang

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 5:08PM
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I want to hash it out with the builder and say " this is your fault ... you eat the costs". I do not know if that will go over that well. This does not seem right to me.. and it stinks that I would have to pay $1000 to get it done right. My other thought was to hire my own electriction just to do the box and move it to save some money...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 10:20PM
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Let me share my thoughts. That box (big green junction box) was going to be put dead center in the front of my yard, about 25 feet straight in front of the door. The decision to put it there was the power company. The explanation was it was the shortest distance and was the easiest place for them to get access to for service if needed.

So, I first had to convince their engineer they could still get access if it was on the side of my house. Next, I had to pay $700 to have it move to there. The $700 was for the extra excavation to have the line buried and the extra length of wire.

So $1000 may not be unreasonable if it is all inclusive.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 10:45PM
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You should always talk to the general contractor before talking to the electrician unless you have a separate contract with the electrician.

When you approach the general contractor it is best to ask him to explain how it happened and ask him to offer a solution rather than accusing him of a design flaw unless you enjoy unpleasant confrontations.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:21AM
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I think Not!!!! I would be furious! That is never done. I wouldn't pay either

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:59AM
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I think Renovator8 has the best idea of how to proceed here. I would also be furious and have never heard of such a think, but approaching the general contractor the way Renovator8 could diffuse the situation instead of making it worse.

One question, and maybe this is just my ignorance, but shouldn't the electical plan for the house have included the location of the box?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 1:51PM
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Hiring your own electrician later to move it, could and probably will, cost you more than $1000.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Hiring your own electrician later to move it, could and probably will, cost you more than $1000.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 2:18PM
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shouldn't the electical plan for the house have included the location of the box?

Only if you know for certain where the power lines are entering. As ssgumby above mentions, that decision is made by the supplier. If you want it changed around, it's your cost not theirs. If this ever came up on a build I was doing, there's no way I would be absorbing one cent of the clients's change costs.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 5:31PM
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worthy - thanks for that info!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 6:03PM
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It is just hard for me to imagine...my builder was soooo careful to explain things to me that might be aesthetically irritating, and tried to mitigate. He explained all of the air return locations and made sure I was ok with them, and he even made sure I knew that the glass in our custom door would have those tiny little "tempered glass" engravings in the corner of every pane....didn't want me caught off-guard. I absolutely cannot imagine a builder that could put the electrical box by the front door and not realize it would look terrible and pi$$ the owner off. At the least, he should have warned them when presenting the bid that it would look like that and would cost x$ more to move BEFORE they signed. My builder would be embarrassed having his name on a house where the electrical box was next to the front door. That is crazy.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:00PM
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I thought I was the only one in America with a custom home with the electric meter on the front of the house. It infuriated me and still now annoys me but I don't notice it as much. I planted a tree to block it. Same here only we were quoted like 10K to move it as all the wires had been located inside the home to that location. Attached to garage but on front of home on small turn wall. I would have them move it as it is only 700.00. I will get all fired up if I post a picture so I can only feel for you!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:36PM
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