Use Your Remodeling Power Wisely – Pay Attention to the Electrical Plan

When you undertake a whole-house remodeling project, you expect your remodeler to provide the basic electrical needs. You expect the blueprints of the new space to have the required number of electrical outlets according to both national and local electrical codes, as well as the right number of switches. If you live in an older home, you should also expect that the electrician may recommend upgrading your entire home’s electric, because it may not be up to today’s building codes. 

Electric for your home renovation needs to be planned and executed by a certified electrician. This is important, because he who installs the electrical is responsible for its safety. If you use a “friend of a friend” who just happens to know how to hook up a switch and an outlet, you are responsible for any fires or electrical problems that may occur – and your homeowner’s insurance may not cover any such damages.  In addition, if you ever sell your home, the new owners will require a safety certificate stating that the electrical work was done by a certified electrician.

Don’t be afraid to ask your builder for a meeting with the electrician.  While you can’t reduce the number of outlets in a given room, you can design the electrical to fit your family’s lifestyle. You can plan for various kinds of lighting.  If you want ceiling lights throughout the remodeled area, let the electrician know. Or, if you have a ceiling fan with several speeds connected to a light with progressive brightness, the electrician can hook it up in such a way that its operation is intuitive to you. Meet with the electrician in the blueprint phase, because if you want to upgrade the basic electrical requirements, now is the time to do it. 

The number and positioning of outlets is important in specific rooms. For example, your planned office space may require more than one outlet to handle the electricity load of computers, printers, scanners and other office equipment that require power simultaneously and for long periods of time. Be sure your electrical outlets and your electrical panel can handle it. Or, if you are planning a home theater room, you’ll want outlets placed strategically to not only allow easy access for power cords, but also to take on the additional power requirements of the audio/video equipment. It is very expensive and time consuming to try to make changes once the walls are closed and the work is finished. 

The professional electrician will also evaluate your current electrical panel and ask you questions about tripped circuit breakers, flickering lights and power usage. If he feels the panel is already overloaded or that it will be overloaded with the additions from the renovation, he may recommend an electrical upgrade. He may also find that your home’s electric isn’t up to today’s code. If that’s the case, we’d recommend having the electrical modifications done at the same time as the remodel. Because the builder and electrician will already be on site for the remodeling effort, they can make the transition from old to new seamless and safe. They can also make recommendations on energy-efficient lighting, should you be interested in more cost-effective and environmentally safe electrical products.

In kitchen remodeling efforts, keep in mind that this room requires more electrical power than any other room in the home. Building code standards require a receptacle for every four feet of countertop that is longer than one foot. A countertop that is divided by a cooktop, refrigerator or sink is considered a full length of countertop (including the appliance in the measurement).  Even if there is a counter shorter than one foot next to the appliance, that length is included in the overall measurement. Kitchens also require GCFIs – ground fault circuit interrupters – which are designed for safety use anywhere there is a chance that water could come in contact with electricity. The GFCI will shut down the power when an irregular current is detected. All circuits must have proper “grounding” which channels the electrical current into the ground, protecting you from electrocution. 

GCFIs are also standard requirements in bathrooms, garages and laundry rooms.  You should feel free to use your creativity with electrical plans when you remodel your home – add dimmers, LED lighting and various switching options to the standard package. Just remember to have it done right – from the beginning and by a certified electrician. Give your finished remodel the power to shine.

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