Giving Some Thought to the Electrical Component of our Home

When we built our first Production Home, we had no idea how to prepare for any of the decisions that needed to be made. We just showed up for each meeting with our builder and took their recommendations and advice.

Often times, with Production Home builders, you’ll be discussing any structural issues, electrical choices and plumbing locations all in one (brief) meeting, so the more “preparations” you can do ahead of time, the better. Whether you will be reviewing electrical selections during a more broad meeting or whether you will have a meeting with your builder to specifically discuss the electrical component of your house, it’ll pay to show up ready. Below are some of the ways we will be preparing for making the electrical decisions in our next home.

Print your floorplans

We didn’t do this with our first two houses but have done it with our custom home and it really helps! We printed several copies of our floorplans and used a clean version for each electrical component that we could thing of. For example, we used one copy to set out the outlet placements; another for the light switches; one for the media layout (plugs, speakers, etc.); a fourth for the lighting such as wall sconces, pot lights, pendants, etc. Having each component on separate copies makes it easier to review and see where to change, add, omit, etc…

Consider the use of each space

I cannot stress this one enough! Here are some examples of spaces we didn’t consider when we designed our first two homes:

  1. Stairs
  • The next time around, we’ll be adding outlets at the top and bottom (and middle since we’re going to have a landing) of our stairs so that we can decorate for Christmas to our hearts’ content;
  • We’re also considering adding in-wall stair lighting because, well, why not!
Had we thought of including an outlet at the bottom of these steps (in the little corner nook behind the table) we could used that table more efficiently – maybe added a lamp for ambient lighting, or a charge station for our electronics, or a diffuser for scent..

2. Outlets

  • Pantry – especially if you have a walk-in pantry and plan on storing small kitchen appliances in there;
  • Closets – if your building code allows for outlets in the closet, it would be a great place to hide some of the unsightly items such as wifi repeaters;
  • Bedrooms – consider the furniture layout ahead of time and ensure to place outlets on either side of the bed (a lot easier than running extension cables under the bed to plug in phone chargers and side lights, etc.)
  • Floors – if you know you’re going to have side lamps near your couch, consider placing an outlet on the floor to avoid having a cord running through your living space;
  • Kitchen counters – place outlets as close as possible to the kitchen counters or upper cabinetry – no sense in investing in a nice backsplash, only to have it ruined by the look of electrical outlets
  • Kitchen Island – give some thought to how you use plan on using your kitchen island. If there is seating, you’ll likely find yourself working on a computer there at some point, so add an outlet under the counter near the seating to allow you to plug your laptop (see photo below);
  • Outdoor space – don’t just look down for outlets, consider having them up top (near or in the soffit) – we’ll be adding outlets to the roof of our covered porch so that we can mount space heaters and maybe hang some string lights;
The outlet on our island was close to the fridge which meant I had to run an extension cable across the island, regardless of where I sat

3. Switches

  • Bedroom – we’re adding switches on either side of all of the beds in order to be able to install reading lights that can be turned on/off without getting up;
  • Consider mirror (and other wall decor) placements – we ended up having a light switch behind our entry mirror (photo below) which meant that we rarely turned on the light in the entry hallway;
The light switch behind this mirror rendered the lighting in this space useless (sure, we could have installed the mirror more to the right but then it would not have been centred and would have driven me nuts)

4. Lighting

Don’t forget lighting – all lighting! We never considered wall sconces in our first two homes but there are numerous places – such as this window seat between two bedrooms – where we could have used some extra lighting.

Even with all the preparations ahead of time, I’m sure that once we move in we will find things that we forgot about or regretted regarding our electrical choices but hopefully the above will help us (and you!) to maximize the electrical component of our home.

Custom Home : Months 1 to 4 – Plan! Plan! Plan!

My first (not-to-scale) attempt at designing our home.

The first few months of designing a custom home are probably the most significant but, still, they felt so theoretical since it consisted of mainly “paperwork”.

At the end of April, we had already locked down the company that we had chosen to be our builder. Once the purchase of the land was finalized in May 2020, we started working with the architectural designer to design the house. Since we were in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, our exchanges were primarily via email. The designer reached out and asked us to send him as much information and pictures as possible of our “wish list” to give him an idea of what we were looking for.

Eight emails (and several attachments) later, I had basically described as much as possible of what we had been dreaming of for our custom home. I also provided the above drawing that was, of course, not to scale but that set out how we hoped the rooms could transition in our home.

I had poured hours and hours over floor plans online of bungalow/one-story homes but I didn’t like the flow in any of them… I was really looking for spaces to be divided by hallways; instead, a lot of the homes we were seeing omitted the hallways (probably as a means to save square footage), so you would just step from one room into another, which I didn’t like.

The architectural designer took my scrawny pencil drawing (and numerous emails) and came back a few weeks later with our dream floor plan! We never met him, hadn’t even spoken to him on the phone at the point, and he just got it – he knew what we wanted. Of course, it wasn’t 100% done – we had a few back and forth exchanges over specific details and, ultimately, about 4 versions of the plans – but it was so close that we were finally able to start getting excited about the possibilities. (I won’t share the final floor plans since, technically, they are someone else’s work but my Instagram account is sure to provide a good idea of the design as I walk through the spaces, once things get started.)

After the plans were finalized, a lot of the work was done behind the scenes by our builder and his team. The floorplans turned into engineered drawings; drawings setting out the location of the house on our land, including slope percentages, etc., were made; and a whole package was put together and submitted to the City for building permits. The whole process – from start to finish – took about four months and then, in September, we got word that the land was ready to be cleared!

Finally – some tangible progress that we will be able to see and walk through!!!