designing electrical in house

sprint23December 19, 2010

I'm in the process of building a house (working on foundation right now) and I'm the gc. I'm going to be doing all the electrical myself. I'm trying to decide where I want to put plugs and switches, but I can't think of everywhere to put them. I don't want to have the house done and think, I wish I had put a plug here, or it would be nice to have a plug there (you can never have enough plugs). Can you give me some ideas on places to put plugs or run power to that someone wouldn't normally think of? Thanks

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Up under the eves controlled by a switch for holiday lighting.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There are so many electrical receptacles (plugs are on the appliance cords) that are required by the electrical code that you only need to install additional ones where you expect to have more than normal appliance use and to add switches at other parts of a room for additional convenience. The most common places are the kitchen counters and at bedsides.

I would caution you to not attempt to wire your own house if you are not an electrician even if a license is not required in your area.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:21AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our code requires a plug on any wall over X feet.

For me, it was having them where we needed without going over board (you can have too many). It was important for them to be located, for example, where a chest or table would be with a lamp. I like them hidden, so behind is my choice location.

Near floor lamp locations. In the great room, under the sofa, but not under the rug, for sofa table lamps.

Where will you charge cell phones, etc? Portable house phones.

Walk-in pantry?

Any closets? (If code permits.)

Convenient locations outdoors.

Near central vacuum outlets so you can plug in for carpet/rug attachment.

Garage to vacuum cars.

You really need to plan ahead and "see" how you are going to live in the house and where furniture, etc will be located.

Don't forget to take into consideration door swings - don't want a switch being behind a door.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 8:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you dont know the codes, (N.E.C), for your project and how to safely wire your home, as MACV states, you would be wise to give it up to a reputable, licensed professional. Things such as arc faults in bedrooms, island cabinet receptacle requirements, receptacles no more than every 12',(everywhere), GFCI's in kitchen, laundry, baths, exterior, garages, breaker size rquirements, etc, etc etc....

Our electrician let me give him a hand as a "grunt" which saved a little time and money and was a learning experience. Even at that, not enough of a lesson to go out and wire my own project, it's like most any trade, it takes experience and you need to be up on the current codes.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 11:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Should also state that the "design" process is way more involved than box placement. It starts at the panel, size and breakers needed, meter and incoming wire gauge concerns, ( your local utility's part of the show), according to the loads and layout of your home.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 11:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I live in a rural area with no codes. I've got to figure out the electrical (plug placement, lights, etc.) to figure out what size breakers and panel to use. I'm not new to electrical and I've got a friend and father-in-law that are both electricians to help me and double check my work. I'm doing most of the work, but my father-in-law is hooking up the panel box for me. Thanks

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 12:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I live in a rural area with no codes".

You'd be wise to study up on the N.E.C. for residential

Here is a link that might be useful: 2011 n.e.c. book on amazon

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 12:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

here are some ideas and example uses that worked for me:

all closets - clothing and utlity (e.g. charging portable vacumn, paper shredder)

utility room cabinets (wireless phone docking station)

below all windows on front of house, first & second floors (for plug in candles)

close to fireplace mantles (xmas lights)

dedicated circuit with switched outlet for indoor xmas tree location

outdoor outlets: top outlet dedicated switched 20A circuit (outdoor Xmas lights), bottom outlet always on with seperate 20 Amp circuit (power tools)

built in cabinets or locations where where TVs, computers, or printers will be placed

dedicated circuit with outlet for garage refrigerator
attic (for extension lights)

dedicated 20 amp circuit with switched outlet in garage for future low voltage ooutdoor lighting

at front gate 600 feet from house (power tools to install gate, future night light)

near each HVAC indoor unit (humidifiers)

inside master bathroom cabinets: 1 his, 1 hers (electric tooth brush charger)

dedicated circuit in cabinet for below butler pantry sink (on demand hot water generator)

locations where a table lamp woud be placed

All of these were in addition to the minimum code requirements.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 1:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not about outlets, but...I wish I did NOT have so many recessed ceiling cans throughout the house. (Like in the corners of the DR, LR, MBR -- and over the bed in the MBR! Or those in the slants of catherdral ceilings -- too high to add light to the room.) Think about sconces and 'washing' any vaulted ceilings with light from below.

Take an inventory of everything inside and outside of your house and garage that uses electricity or needs charging.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 2:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"receptacles no more than every 12',(everywhere"

Not an NEC requirement.

Hallways are only required to have a single receptacle, and kitchen-wall counter spaces are required every 48 inches.

The kitchen wall-counter receptacles must be on the two (or more) required 20 amp small appliance branch circuits that can only supply receptacles in kitchens, pantries, and dining areas (no lighting on those circuits).

Bathrooms require a 20 amp circuit also.

There are some books available that can help guide you through all the rules and requirements.

None of it is particularly hard, just detailed.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 4:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

QUOTE "I live in a rural area with no codes."

Unless you live in the state of Montana that statement is untrue.

While there are many regions that have no local codes or code enforcements such as permits and code inspections, that does not mean to imply that there are no codes. Legally it comes down to the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction). If your community has not adopted a code the AHJ is then the county, and in those instances where the county has not adopted a code the AHJ is then the state, with the singular exception of the state of Montana, which has no codes.

While I am sure someone can find the exception that proves the rule, generally for electrical the AHJ's have adopted the NEC (National Electrical Code), but be careful here. In the NEC it will often list a rule with a number of options. Generally even though the local code is based upon the NEC the state or local code will define which of those options is to be used in your region and in some instances the local code will have requirements above and beyond the basics listed in the NEC.

Now you may take the argument that you have no local code or code enforcement, therefore you are not overly concerned with code requirements but that may come home to haunt you later. By example;

In some rural areas in the state of Ohio the only permit and inspection required for a single family residential structure is to install a septic tank. Given that they are lacking any form of permits or inspections many home owner/builders and sadly far too many fly by night wannabee contractors are simply using whatever spit & glue technique that seems to suit their level of ambition or budget, but then, with no inspector who is to know how you built the house? Who cares if you have 2x4 floor joists so long as you have genuine Italian marble counter tops? It's only those parts that we can see that really matter anyway, right?

WRONG; This attitude has gotten so far out of hand that the courts are overwhelmed with liability suites and insurance rates have skyrocketed.

My sister is a real estate agent in Ohio and she told me that since the bank shakeup many banks simply refuse to issue a mortgage on any structure that has not passed a code inspection. She then showed me a list of over 500 homes in here county alone that must be listed as "Cash Only-NO Mortgage due to non-compliance"

In addition, many insurance companies have hired their own inspectors and sent out notices that they will not renew a homeowners policy until the structure passes a code inspection. Just two years ago I had to completely re-plumb my Mothers house so she could renew her homeowners insurance.

Just over the line in Mercer County Pennsylvania the lack of code enforcement became such an issue that they passed a law requiring all landlords to be registered with the county and all rental properties in Mercer County must be code inspected once a year. If it doesn't pass code you may not offer it as a rental space until it is upgraded to code standard.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 6:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Generally even though the local code is based upon the NEC the state or local code will define which of those options is to be used in your region and in some instances the local code will have requirements above and beyond the basics listed in the NEC".

Such as receptacles in most rooms other than the kitchen, bath, laundry, etc. where there are other requirements being no more than 12' apart in our area.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 7:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We paid for it, but in the bedrooms, office, living room, dining room, and rec room, we had outlets every 8' instead of every 12'. For the master bedroom, we placed them based on where we knew the bed would go. We didn't know for the other rooms, but we've been in the house 3.5 years--and every 8' (instead of every 12') has been GREAT.

We also have an outlet in our master bedroom linen cabinet. We use it to keep our electric toothbrush chargers out of sight.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2010 at 7:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm doing my own electric, I do have experience in this, and I do have an electrician doing the panel boiler and a few other items.

if you don't know the code, you're going to have trouble. if there are no codes enforced where you are... thats fine, as long as you really know what you are doing...

code requires you be no more than 6 feet from a receptical in all general living areas, so that means practically speaking, every 12 feet.

I'd figure on at least 1 on every wall in bedrooms dining rooms etc. think of furnature placement. I have a wall in the dining room where the outlet is exactly where you would put a hutch. great for lighting the hutch, but you're out of luck if you want to plug something in.

generally in the bedrooms, I keep them away the windows, closer to the corners. since I did it myself, I did a few more than code as it didn't really cost anything. in BRs if you have a queen bed think about an outlet on either side of the bed for lamps etc. all BRs on Arc fault breakers.
remember the connected smoke detector circuit.

dining room code requirement is 20amp circuts, kitchen on 20amp circuts every 4 feet. plus dedicated outlets for stove, refridgerator, microwave, line for dishwasher.

some of it is common sense, some of it isn't (but is correct) and some of it is stupid and required.

I could go on and on about guess my point is, there is a lot to know. if you don't know it, you need to figure out a way to get the info, or hire a pro.

I knew how to wire, but still read 2 books, and had to take a test in order to wire my own house. I still have an electrician for some things and his cell number if I have a question. if I were you I'd start talkin to your father in law and friend.

also regarding the panel, most homes by me are run with a 200amp panel. larger is excessive unless you have a very large house, smaller isn't much cheaper, and you can easily run our of space on a 100amp panel with the required circuits.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It is often important to be aware that the actual requirement for the minimum spacing of typical receptacles is not "every 12 feet" but "installed so that no point measured horizontally along the floor line in any wall space is more than 6 ft. from a receptacle outlet.

The wall space rules are also stated differently than commonly quoted so it is important to refer back to the actual wording.

Even electricians sometimes forget what the code actually says.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 12:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In keeping with what macv stated, for general lighting outlets you begin at a doorway and measure along the baseboard. There must be one outlet within 6' of the doorway, then a minimum of every 12' around the room. If there is a short wall between two doors that is equal to or greater than 24" wide you are required an outlet. The intent of the code is simple, no matter where you place furnishings along the wall they shall be no further than 6' from an outlet. If the short wall space between doors exceeds 24" it is conceivable that someone might place a small table there with a lamp and you may not run a cord past a doorway, so they require the outlet.

As has been mentioned above, code is very specific about outlets in the kitchen & bath. There are also some other outlets that most people are unaware of. If you have a water heater installed in an attic space code requires both a permanent light fixture and an outlet in the immediate vicinity of the installation and the light must be controlled by a switch that is within 3' of the entrance to the attic space.

I am not certain if it is in the NEC yet, but most local codes now require an outdoor outlet in the immediate vicinity of your HVAC condensing unit (this is to permit operating electrical tools while servicing the unit).

Now keep in mind that the code only establishes the minimums that would be found in a contractor grade turn key house, whereas you are custom building your home. Once you have the layout for the code minimums you should examine your lifestyle and install the extras that meet your personal needs. By example, I am into Amateur Radio (Ham Radio)and I have a small room about 6' x 10' where I have both my radio and computer equipment. I have a 220v circuit for my 1500watt linear amplifier and 18 120v outlets in this room for my radios, computers, printers and other equipment yet in the real world it is still not enough..LOL.

Do you have a formal dining room? How about a floor outlet to permit using an electric serving appliance on the table? Additional outlets for serving appliances on a side buffet?

Although I am not into the exterior Christmas lighting thing, never the less, for those who are, they can tell you first hand that having dedicated outlets under the eaves that can be switched from indoors are invaluable.

Do you have a sewing room, craft room or workshop area? Consider what types of equipment you will be using there.

While code requires a minimum of one exterior outlet, I have one on all four sides of the house.

I also have switches in the kitchen to close the garage doors and turn the garage and tool shed lights off.

The bottom line, code defines the minimum requirements but only you know what will meet the needs of your lifestyle.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 3:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Generally even though the local code is based upon the NEC the state or local code will define which of those options is to be used in your region and in some instances the local code will have requirements above and beyond the basics listed in the NEC"

There are very few "options" in the NEC.

Some jurisdictions adopt it completely, others make additions or deletions.

The local AHJ should have a write up of the local changes/exceptions available.

It got so out of hand in Virginia that a Uniform Statewide Code was adopted, and NO jurisdiction is allowed to make ANY changes to the state code.

There are still occasionally differences in interpretation, but even those appear to have declined lately.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2010 at 3:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Exterior receptacles below 6.5 ft from the ground are required in the front and rear of a house plus balconies, decks and porches over 20 s.f. in area that are accessible from inside the house.

Check the requirements for while-in-use weatherproof covers carefully.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2010 at 10:28AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Window Trim
I found the attached picture, and like the window trim...
House Looks Small Framed?!
our home is 3200 ft.², by no means small in my opinion....
Are these doors acceptable to you?
These are walnut interior doors. I understand that...
House complete... Moving Friday... Photo tour
Hi all! I thought I would post some pics while the...
Should I add a window in the dining room?
We are going to have a long narrow dining room, husband...
Bridget Howe
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™