Electrical upgrades for a new build home

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Topic Author
lifebeckonss
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Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by lifebeckonss »

Dear Bogleheads,

We are buying a new build home in California (San Luis Obispo). We currently live in the SF Bay Area, but will move to SLO when we retire in a few years. The new house is being built and I am perplexed by the number of upgrades the builder has to offer. We are trying to keep most things standard and will do upgrades later if we need them, but there are a few areas I want to check with the smart people on this forum.

Below are the upgrades on offer, which ones would you recommend we get?

Image

Here are some things to consider:
1. We don't have an electric car, but will consider buying one as our next car.
2. The house does not come with any 220v outlets in the laundry room, but I am guessing we can buy a gas dryer.
3. Any of these options that we should choose to future proof any electrical work is what I want to consider.

Thank you!! :)
HomeStretch
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by HomeStretch »

I think a lot of this is personal preference. I have most of these items in my house. Some are easier to do now while walls are open. If you leave it until later, be sure your electrical panel has room for additional circuits to be added.

Do you have an interior design plan that would help you decide whether you need additional (or to move) outlets, lights, etc.?

Do you want a wired house alarm (burglary, smoke, heat, water, temperature monitors) or home theater/sound system with wired/in wall or ceiling speakers?

How do you plan to use the outdoors - do you want irrigation system, exterior cameras, music, lighting, outlets, spa hook up/sub panel, hose bibs, etc.?

Wireless is good but my preference would be to hard wire my whole house for better/faster internet connectivity for computers, game consoles, etc. I’d use CAT 6 rather than CAT 5.

If you are planning to use gas in the laundry room, are you running a gas line now for appliance hookup?
Last edited by HomeStretch on Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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lthenderson
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by lthenderson »

Most of these options are to tailor their standard layouts to your family and not necessarily "future proof" the house. Many of them could easily be done after the fact too if you change your mind but it is hard to say for certain without inspecting blueprints and breaker box location. Honestly, with the way technology has been going and getting away from complicated hard wiring installations, future proofing your house may just be getting a robust internet and wifi system.

The 220V outside outlet might be nice for a future electric car but the price seems really high for something that can be an easy couple hour DIY project. Again depends on specifics of house layout.

I would definitely have the cat 5 wiring to at least your utility room and room where your router will be located. These days most things are wifi and don't need hard wiring but if you have or do things that require more reliable internet, I would consider cat 5 wiring to those locations.

Dimmer switches and ring doorbells can be added after the fact for a fraction of the quoted prices if you are capable of DIY electrical projects. If you have to hire an electrician to change out a switch, you might want to consider doing it through electrical contractor.

Alarm systems can go both ways. Old school systems that are hardwired to newer systems which depend on internet wifi access. Unless you want the former, no need to do it ahead of time and since technology is going away from hardwiring at a fast pace, no need to future proof a home by adding it now.
runner3081
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by runner3081 »

A few thoughts:

-Yes, keep additional outlets, not too easy to add later
-Ring at that cost, heck no. DIY
-DIY dimmer upgrades
-Wireless speaker systems are rampant, save the $350
-Only do exterior 220v if you want a hot tub
-Don't add USB, you can buy those for $30ish and DIY

Otherwise, up to you on moving stuff around.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Consider installing floor or ceiling molding that has channels for cables. You never know when they might come in handy. Install a charging station for all the rechargeable batteries for tools.

Now that I am retired, I disconnected my doorbell; my nap is more important. Folks can call first; tradespeople now call when they are on the way.

I'm not sure if folks use half hot wall outlets anymore, but I find them handy. The top wall outlet is controlled by a wall switch, the bottom is just always hot ready for something to be plugged into it.

Where I live, in new construction exterior outlets are required by code.
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:40 pm, edited 5 times in total.
z0r
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by z0r »

oof, those prices. most of of those are real moneymakers. vhcol...

I would want 50A 220V in the garage or possibly on the front of the garage for an electric car charger. some localities are requiring 100A here as future proofing but I think that's silly, 50A 220 (10kW) can charge 30mph which is enough for any conceivable home overnight charge. the listed prices are out of control though especially if the panel is near where the outlet would go, it's a $50-100 plug $30 breaker and $100 of wire and about 1-2 hours of work with the walls open. think about the layout of panel to charger and maybe do this later with an independent contractor to save money
stan1
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by stan1 »

We prefer an electric dryer over gas so we would get the outlet in the laundry room.

If you want ceiling fans get those pre-wired with lower gauge (thicker) wire connected to a switch. I would always prefer wired controls over remotes that can be lost, use batteries, and less reliable than wired.

If you know where you will have home offices and entertainment centers we've found it useful to add extra outlets at time of construction. Otherwise you will typically get one outlet per wall in a bedroom. You may want to add another outlet on each side of a bed so there is one at each nightstand (may be standard in master but not in other bedrooms). One little luxury is to have a three way switch for each nightstand with one switch next to the bed and another next to the door. Also consider whether you want outlets to be switched or not switched.

Outside we've made sure there is an outlet near where we would put patio furniture. It may not always be where the builder puts it. Likewise we make sure there is a hose bib in front, back, and each side.

USB outlets and dimmers can easily be added later.

If you plan on an electric car you should also have solar. If you aren't getting the solar now I'd deal with the outlet in the garage at the time the solar is installed.

If you like holiday lights it is useful to have an outlet in the eaves with a switch in the garage or house.

Go with wireless speakers these days unless you really, really want a high end sound system (and can tell the difference).

These are conveniences for you while you own the house. They will not add resale value.
Normchad
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Normchad »

These look pretty pricey. So some of it depends on how price sensitive you are. For me, I’d look at the things that would just be a big pain to do later. I have personally done all of these things as a DIY. I know you can do,it cheaper. Sometimes you don’t want to DIY.

1. I’d take the ceiling fan pre wire if the rooms don’t have a ceiling light in them.
2. I’d take the 50A 220outlet, either in the garage or in the front of it.
3. check about the laundry room. They will either have gas there or a 220.
4. I like a lot of light, so might ask about adding recessed lights throughout if they aren’t already included.
5. And yeah, have Cat6 near wherever you’re going to put you cable modem.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Sandtrap »

1. Add ceiling fan wiring in all overhead center light in each bedroom, den, living room, etc. This includes a fan switch next to the room light switch.
2. Add 220V Outlet in laundry room for dryer (a must, one day you may need it).
3. Depending on your lifestyle and skills, DIY, etc.:
a) Add 220v welding outlet near the garage door on the inside.
b) Add 30 amp, 110v, outlet near the garage door on the inside.
4. Add additional separate circuits, 20 amp, in the garage for extra refrigerator and/or freezer
5. Add more outlets overall. You could suggest going with less than the NEC Code 12 foot spacing.
6. Add more kitchen counter outlets.
7. Add exterior outlets in the locations of exterior security cameras if you will have them.
8. Add exterior floodlight fixtures in addition to the exterior lighting already installed.
9. Install 4 row commercial size led lighting in the garage (most are way too dim).
10. Add lights in the each closet and walk in closet and pantry.
11. If someday you are going to install a shop building or detached garage, then do a prewire main load center breaker/feed installs for this now, feed them the junction box closest to where your additional building is going to be. But not needed if you are going to tap in to the main load center directly. This is for the additional sub panels in those added buildings.
12. Additional exterior feeds/lighting in your courtyard/patio/etc.
13. Additional exterior shutoff/feed box in the location of your hot tub/jacuzzi.
14. Etc.

j :happy
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radiowave
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by radiowave »

-If you want to consider adding home automation switches or receptacles, which require some type of home automation computer, you might ask to install extra deep, sometimes called jumbo, junction boxes in the wall. The home automation switches tend to be a bit deeper than normal switches and receptacles. Also need a white neutral in each junction box. You can easily retrofit any switch in the house at a later time but really difficult to take down drywall to put in an extra deep box.

- not mentioned in the list but switched lights in most closets is very helpful

- prewire for CAT6 to most rooms you might put a computer or other device with a direct LAN connection is helpful. Yes, wireless is prolific, but a plug in the wall is more secure and easier to setup and maintain than wireless.

- would also recommend prewiring for home security to anything that interfaces to the outside, etc doors and windows, temperature sensing in multiple rooms, etc.

- wired thermostats

- if you have an outbuilding or shed, perhaps run AC to that for lighting, heating, etc.

- extra fluorescent lights in the garage


hope this helps
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$=WxTxI
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by $=WxTxI »

Its not on your list. However if this is your forever retirement home I would get a 100amp min subpanel in garage. You can run your future electric charging station(s) from this.

Pre-wire Cat6 to each room
rich126
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by rich126 »

Depending on the house adding electrical outlets later is a pain. If you have a basement and attic it is a bit easier but still not easy.

Having GFI in the kitchen/bathrooms is important (required most everywhere I think) but it doesn't require running any wires at all. It just involves removing one outlet for another. And only one on a circuit. It is basically a $35 item and takes 15 minutes or so to do. Often the biggest annoyance is finding the breaker to shut off the electricity.

With everything going wireless running cat6 is more of a personal preference. It is easier if you do it ahead of time although it may not be essential.

I would consider how you plan to use your computers/tvs and either run wiring to those areas or make sure you have a good layout for access points and whether you want those to be wired or a wireless mesh type system.

My current house is older, has no basement or attic so wiring is often run over the roof and a hole is punched into the wall and installed that way. Not exactly ideal.
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walkabout
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by walkabout »

Consider extra outlets. Most local electrical codes will result in outlets being installed about every 12 linear feet apart in a room. In a small room, this means that each wall will have an outlet on the middle. Annoyingly, this probably means that those outlets will end up behind furniture (sofa, head of bed, etc). In at least some rooms, if you have some idea of how your furniture will be placed, consider having outlets installed such they will be on either end/side of the furniture rather than behind it.

Code requires an outlet near outdoor (and probably indoor) HVAC equipment. Not sure if code requires other outdoor outlets. Think about where you would use outdoor outlets (Christmas lights, yard work, patio, landscape lighting, etc) and have them installed there.

If local code allows, consider having garbage disposer and dishwasher powered by electrical outlet vs hardwired. Some jurisdictions allow/require this, some don’t.

Consider getting an air switch or momentary switch for the garbage disposer. Air switch might be required by local code.
mnsportsgeek
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by mnsportsgeek »

lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:49 am Dear Bogleheads,

We are buying a new build home in California (San Luis Obispo). We currently live in the SF Bay Area, but will move to SLO when we retire in a few years. The new house is being built and I am perplexed by the number of upgrades the builder has to offer. We are trying to keep most things standard and will do upgrades later if we need them, but there are a few areas I want to check with the smart people on this forum.

Below are the upgrades on offer, which ones would you recommend we get?

Image

Here are some things to consider:
1. We don't have an electric car, but will consider buying one as our next car.
2. The house does not come with any 220v outlets in the laundry room, but I am guessing we can buy a gas dryer.
3. Any of these options that we should choose to future proof any electrical work is what I want to consider.

Thank you!! :)
I’d get Ethernet at least in each floor. This will allow a mesh wireless system to have a backend Ethernet connection which is helpful. Ideally to the living room and every bedroom/office.

RG6 in each bedroom/living room/office.

Recessed lighting throughout.

220V to the garage. I’d pass on the laundry room as well as long as there is a gas line to the laundry room.

Surround sound pre-wire if you’re interested. However, 4 locations only is lousy. Nowadays I’d be looking at 8 runs for Dolby Atmos.

Outlets in the closet where you might keep a battery powered vacuum.

Outdoor outlets for Christmas lights.

Outlet behind toilets for bidet.

I’d get the smurf tube as well.
glock19
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by glock19 »

I'm not an electrician but do all of my own electrical work. With that said those prices look insane to me, but I realize there are a lot of factors dealing with location and electrical services pricing in certain areas. If this were an existing house, I could see some of the charges, but knowing how long it takes to do some of these procedures it sure appears on the expensive side to me.

OP, I can't suggest what options are needed, but I would suggest getting a competitive bid if possible, assuming you are not locked in to using the contractors subs.
tibbitts
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by tibbitts »

radiowave wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:58 pm - extra fluorescent lights in the garage
I'm sure you meant LED. I replaced an incandescent in my garage with a fluorescent almost a decade ago, and I think it was the last fluorescent fixture ever sold.
adamthesmythe
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by adamthesmythe »

Code requires a lot of standard electrical outlets. I think it is unlikely that you will need more except maybe in a home office or near an entertainment center. Even there you could use a multi-outlet surge suppressor (with some associated mess).

Personally I like an electric dryer, despite preferring gas cooking. Go figure. The cost for 220V outlets is pretty high.

The other place you really might need more outlets is if you have some home shop-like activities.
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lifebeckonss
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by lifebeckonss »

OP here!

Thank you so much for all who posted. I was going to do a reply to each but there are too many posts :).

Here are some nuggets I gathered from the replies:
  • The cost of these upgrades seems very high so I will wait and get these done by an electrician or DIY later when we know what exactly we need.
  • I will check if they offer Cat 6 pre-wiring and get that added to all the rooms. It is a 2-bedroom house so we will need it in 3 rooms.
  • The laundry room comes with a gas connection so we will get a gas dryer and forego the 220v there.
  • Eventually we want to go solar, so I will wait for that and install the 220v, 50Amp in the garage at that time.
  • The house comes with a 200 amp electrical panel.
  • Ceiling fan pre-wiring is standard in both bedrooms and living room.
  • I will review what all outlets are standard and we will then decide on extra outlets.
  • Sounds like having outlets in garage and exterior will be good, so will get those.
  • Good call in switched lights in closets and pantry. I am checking that with the builder.
Thank you all!! :)
Last edited by lifebeckonss on Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
HomeStretch
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by HomeStretch »

lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:33 pm ...
Good call in switched lights in closets and pantry. I am checking that with the builder.
...
Another option to consider is closet lights that go on and off based on door sensors.

Timers on bathroom exhaust fans.
Mudpuppy
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Mudpuppy »

It's expensive, but adding the smurf tubing now is one of those things where I'd just swallow my dissatisfaction with the price and pay it anyways. Smurf tubing is the nickname for the flexible blue conduit that will make future upgrades of the outlets easier.
RetiredAL
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by RetiredAL »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:04 pm It's expensive, but adding the smurf tubing now is one of those things where I'd just swallow my dissatisfaction with the price and pay it anyways. Smurf tubing is the nickname for the flexible blue conduit that will make future upgrades of the outlets easier.
Yes, do this on any wall that not adjacent to a closet space. Handy for later installs of Cat5, coax, speakers, or wire telephones.
Topic Author
lifebeckonss
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by lifebeckonss »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:04 pm It's expensive, but adding the smurf tubing now is one of those things where I'd just swallow my dissatisfaction with the price and pay it anyways. Smurf tubing is the nickname for the flexible blue conduit that will make future upgrades of the outlets easier.
RetiredAL wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:32 pm Yes, do this on any wall that not adjacent to a closet space. Handy for later installs of Cat5, coax, speakers, or wire telephones.
Thanks @Mudpuppy and @RetiredAL. Can you please explain this a bit more? It is a two-story home (kitchen/living on first floor, and 2 bedrooms on the second floor). The house also has an attic. So where would smurf tubing make sense? Is it just empty tubing that can be used to run wires at a later point of time. I like the idea but have no idea where it will make sense.
sport
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by sport »

OP, you don't give your age. However, I suggest that having a two-story retirement house is not ideal. The older you get, the more difficult climbing the stairs becomes. Carrying laundry up and down the stairs is not the best idea either. Furthermore, if anyone ends up with knee or hip replacements, the stairs become even more of a problem.

When we bought our retirement house, the first and most important criterion was to have everything on one floor. That is what we have now and we consider that to be a wise decision.

BTW, your builder is making a substantial profit on each upgrade. Our builder provided upgrades at cost. Perhaps you can find a builder like that.
Mudpuppy
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Mudpuppy »

lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:54 pm Thanks @Mudpuppy and @RetiredAL. Can you please explain this a bit more? It is a two-story home (kitchen/living on first floor, and 2 bedrooms on the second floor). The house also has an attic. So where would smurf tubing make sense? Is it just empty tubing that can be used to run wires at a later point of time. I like the idea but have no idea where it will make sense.
This page is meant for DIY electrical work, but it outlines the benefits of conduit: https://www.doityourself.com/stry/insta ... vs-without

Essentially, it can make upgrading or adding wires easier in the future, at least until you fill the conduit up. It's still possible to upgrade and add wires without conduit, but with more work involved.
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Watty
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Watty »

One thing that I have that I like is that in my living room I have a heavy brass electric floor outlet that is flush with the wood floor near where you would have a chair or couch. It has hinged cover that will cover an outlet if you are not using it.

That allows you to have a floor or table lamp in the middle of the room without having to figure out how to run an electric cord to a wall socket. You can also plug in a cell phone or computer if you are using that while you are sitting in the living room.
RetiredAL
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by RetiredAL »

lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:54 pm
Mudpuppy wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:04 pm It's expensive, but adding the smurf tubing now is one of those things where I'd just swallow my dissatisfaction with the price and pay it anyways. Smurf tubing is the nickname for the flexible blue conduit that will make future upgrades of the outlets easier.
RetiredAL wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 9:32 pm Yes, do this on any wall that not adjacent to a closet space. Handy for later installs of Cat5, coax, speakers, or wire telephones.
Thanks @Mudpuppy and @RetiredAL. Can you please explain this a bit more? It is a two-story home (kitchen/living on first floor, and 2 bedrooms on the second floor). The house also has an attic. So where would smurf tubing make sense? Is it just empty tubing that can be used to run wires at a later point of time. I like the idea but have no idea where it will make sense.
As mudpuppy stated its for later wiring install. It's basically an empty plastic tube in the wall and a plaster-ring or wall box to hold a cover-plate. in a two story, the top story is just a pass-thru to the bottom wall.

Having a second story complicated things as walls may or may not align. If the house has a crawl space or unfinished basement, you can always come up from below.

Getting wires from the attic down to near floor level after home completion requires skillful drilling to snake a cable. If that on an outside wall, the insulation will make that impossible. Here in CA, most new homes are on slabs, thus attic is the only access. If a closet is behind an area, you can always run a wire in the closet corner without it being troublesome.

The goal is to give you hidden access into the area you might want wired later. In a bedroom, one somewhat the opposite of closet is adequate. A single tube can be shared on both sides of a wall. Depending on the room, running wires along the baseboard may or may not be ok, so roughly plan what will be where.

Even if you go mostly wireless for your computers, you will likely need 2 or 3 wireless hubs, and mesh units work best if they are wired between each other.

If Comcast is your cable provider, they are big time into digital media over coax, where each TV box is talking to the master X1 DVR box as computer data over coax. So you have to either wire coax to each room during build or have the capability to add the coax later at a reasonable cost.
MedSaver
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by MedSaver »

We are building a home right now in NorCal too. These prices are somewhat higher than what we are seeing. (E.g. 110v gfi interior is $110, outlet with switch is $170). Moving lights for $100 seems crazy (our builder just sent us a diagram and asked what we wanted where). Cat5 option is weird. Cat6 should be standard. Our builder was quoting us cat5 but when we inquired it turns out the price sheet was never updated. The ring quote is the exact same as us but only for the Elite model since that requires cat6 since it’s PoE. If it’s just a ring pro then that’s pretty nuts. Do your rooms not come standard with Prewire for ceiling fan? If not, what’s standard?
seawolf21
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by seawolf21 »

If you are going to have them run Ethernet, have them run cat 7. Cat 7 is not that expensive.

The interior GFCI receptacle is a rip off as you can replace a normal receptacle yourself with a GFCI for $20.

The builder is charging $75 difference between adding a normal vs GFCI receptacle when a GFCI is only $20 at Home Depot and takes essentially same amount of labor as a normal receptacle to install. At least $60 in pure profit on top of profit from installing a normal receptacle.

Furthermore, a GFCI receptacle will provide GFCI protection to all normal receptacles downstream from GFCI receptacle on same circuit. In other words if GFCI is already required by code (say in garage or bath or kitchen) there is no need to add more GFCI receptacles as a normal receptacle would have GFCI protection due to the one GFCI already included by builder as per code requirements.
mchampse
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by mchampse »

lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:33 pm OP here!

Thank you so much for all who posted. I was going to do a reply to each but there are too many posts :).

Here are some nuggets I gathered from the replies:
  • The cost of these upgrades seems very high so I will wait and get these done by an electrician or DIY later when we know what exactly we need.
  • I will check if they offer Cat 6 pre-wiring and get that added to all the rooms. It is a 2-bedroom house so we will need it in 3 rooms.
  • The laundry room comes with a gas connection so we will get a gas dryer and forego the 220v there.
  • Eventually we want to go solar, so I will wait for that and install the 220v, 50Amp in the garage at that time.
  • The house comes with a 200 amp electrical panel.
  • Ceiling fan pre-wiring is standard in both bedrooms and living room.
  • I will review what all outlets are standard and we will then decide on extra outlets.
  • Sounds like having outlets in garage and exterior will be good, so will get those.
  • Good call in switched lights in closets and pantry. I am checking that with the builder.
Thank you all!! :)
Consider negotiating with the builder on the cost of these upgrades. Perhaps arm your self with some ball park estimates from local electricians on what they think the work should cost.

New homes in California are supposed to have roof top solar when built. I did see something where one of the utilities was able to allow developers buy into a solar farm instead while giving the new residents much cheaper electricity. So electric will either be free or really cheap.

That said, even if you go with a gas dryer for now, it probably makes sense to at least put a 220v in the laundry room now rather than having someone have to pull wires to do so. It could end up cheaper to get someone else to do it in the future, however it’s likely to require opening walls and what not.
TheGreyingDuke
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

seawolf21 wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:00 am If you are going to have them run Ethernet, have them run cat 7. Cat 7 is not that expensive.

The interior GFCI receptacle is a rip off as you can replace a normal receptacle yourself with a GFCI for $20.

The builder is charging $75 difference between adding a normal vs GFCI receptacle when a GFCI is only $20 at Home Depot and takes essentially same amount of labor as a normal receptacle to install. At least $60 in pure profit on top of profit from installing a normal receptacle.

Furthermore, a GFCI receptacle will provide GFCI protection to all normal receptacles downstream from GFCI receptacle on the same circuit. In other words, if GFCI is already required by code (say in garage or bath or kitchen) there is no need to add more GFCI receptacles as a normal receptacle would have GFCI protection due to the one GFCI already included by the builder as per code requirements.
Or put in a GFCI capable breaker in the box and you are set, a little inconvenient if the things trips all the time and you need to go to the box to reset it.

BTW, these devices are required in many places in the house, so they should be part of the standard install.
https://www.bobvila.com/articles/gfci-outlets/
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Pete3
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Pete3 »

I didn't read all the replies but if you want to have a 220V outlet installed in the garage (or outside) for future EV charging I strongly recommend you go with a 60 AMP circuit minimum.

For the Tesla charger at least, the highest you can run continuously is 80% of the circuit rating so a 60 AMP circuit is required for a 48 AMP charging rate which is the current maximum for charging Model 3 (and Y I believe).

Going with a 50 AMP circuit will reduce your maximum charge rate below what the vehicle is capable of (and its also less efficient). If you want to future proof it I would go with a 100AMP circuit as the charge rates supported will undoubtedly increase from here.
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N1CKV
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by N1CKV »

I am electrically handy so most of that I could do myself easily later for much cheaper, but the items that would be worth it are:
- Pre-wire for ceiling fans. Unfortunately that's kinda high, but it's not the easiest job to do after walls are closed and the electrician is not going to allow you do come behind him and do it before the walls close, so might as well let him do it. Really it's just a double box instead of a single, a switch, and using 14/3 instead of 14/2 wiring, not significant in cost - it's the pain to do it later that makes it worth it.
-220V outlet in laundry. The cost looks high, but depending on it's location vs. the location of the electrical panel the wiring cost could be significant.
-220v outlet in garage. I don't have an electric vehicle and do not plan to own one in the near future, but again, depending on location vs. panel it could be a significant cost. Exception: If electrical panel is in garage, scratch that because it would be simple to add later without near the cost quoted (or ask about job specific pricing rather than menu price considering circumstances).
-Exterior GFI - that's a fair price to add in any locations you could conceive a need that are not already included in the plans.
-Additional electrical outlet - it's a fair price if you need one. I had an extensive remodel after a flood and I added double outlet boxes next to each nightstand in the bedrooms, behind my couch in the living room and behind my TV/Entertainment system. You can never have too many outlets available.

DIY:
-USB Outlets - I also added 1 USB outlet to several key locations in previous mentioned remodel, it's easy and I would not pay asking price and just DIY. It's not difficult.
-Ring Doorbell - I have one, it's incredibly simple to install if you already have a doorbell in place. Skip it and DIY (if desired).
-Alarm - I have a Ring alarm, it's all wireless. No need for wiring. There is plenty of other wireless options if desired.
MathWizard
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by MathWizard »

The conduit a good idea. You might want to consider a chase in the back corner of a closet somewhere if you ever plan to install solar hot water.

I’m California, the cost of passively pre heating water is much cheaper than converting solar to electricity and heating using that.

You may not want to that at the beginning, and don’t want to interfere with the solar electric install, but planning ahead eliminates an expensive retrofit.
crefwatch
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by crefwatch »

It seems unlikely that these jobs can be done for the same amount of labor hours AFTER the walls are framed and closed in. Of course, it depends on details like whether there is a basement, whether it's finished, and details of local construction codes and practices. (I mean, for example, if horizontal firestops are required in many open wall spaces. That makes installing new wiring (high or low voltage) much harder.) I don't see how this value is reflected in advice to blow off the opportunity to pay the developer's prices.

What percent of the total price would these improvements reflect? Is there a practical (as opposed to a ... moral or righteous ... ) benefit to refusing to pay the developer? It's difficult to project the future course of technology.
killjoy2012
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by killjoy2012 »

I'd focus on the items that are much harder, if not impossible, once the house is finished. If you want 220v receptacles in the finished basement or garage, now is the time to do it. OTOH, USB receptacles and GFCIs can be added any time. NEC mandates basic minimums like plug placement/frequency, GFCI/AFCI use, etc. You should be more worried about the "extras".

That said, the prices listed are high. Not too surprising. I would pay for the critical items that are better done now, and worry about the others after you've moved in. Swapping out receptacles or installing Ring is not very hard. Pulling a 200v 50A circuit across the house w/ a finished basement is.
seawolf21
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by seawolf21 »

killjoy2012 wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:27 am I'd focus on the items that are much harder, if not impossible, once the house is finished. If you want 220v receptacles in the finished basement or garage, now is the time to do it. OTOH, USB receptacles and GFCIs can be added any time. NEC mandates basic minimums like plug placement/frequency, GFCI/AFCI use, etc. You should be more worried about the "extras".

That said, the prices listed are high. Not too surprising. I would pay for the critical items that are better done now, and worry about the others after you've moved in. Swapping out receptacles or installing Ring is not very hard. Pulling a 200v 50A circuit across the house w/ a finished basement is.
Agreed. Running a new circuit would not be for most DIY not to mention requiring a permit. Swapping receptacle is DIY.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Sandtrap »

HomeStretch wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:50 pm
lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:33 pm ...
Good call in switched lights in closets and pantry. I am checking that with the builder.
...
Another option to consider is closet lights that go on and off based on door sensors.

Timers on bathroom exhaust fans.
+1
Timer switches on bathroom exhaust fans.

Upgrade to high capacity ultra quiet bathroom exhaust fans.

j🌺
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Sandtrap
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Sandtrap »

Installing new feeds and circuits “after” walls are closed up and final inspection is difficult and not always possible. And, it will cost time and money for plans and permits to do that.
Also, your insurance company might not cover fire and other damage, and lawsuits, caused by non-permitted DIY electrical additions and alterations.

IE: Even though I am a licensed GC and electrician, all work in my extensively renovated home and property was permitted and done per code. This is an area where DIY is in a gray area at times. Suggest having the builder take care of the things that need a permit. Replacement of “existing” is normally a DIY and requires no permit.

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Last edited by Sandtrap on Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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hicabob
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by hicabob »

Not on your list but I would go for a whole house surge suppressor mounted in the panel.
jharkin
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by jharkin »

Without reading every reply in detail, I would go with the consensus that most of this depends on your needs. Modern electrical code already requires an outlet every so many feet of wall (I think its 6 ft?) so unless you are heavy electronics uses or down want to deal with power strips for entertainment centers, paying for a lot of extra outlets is up to you.

The extra can lights, etc - again its a preference.

The USB port outlets? (item 35) - total ripoff if its just for charging. Ive seen these outlets with the built in USB chargers at HD... they cost like $20-30 more than a regular outlet. A USB charging brick is about $5.

Interior GFI outlets - they already should have been installed everywhere code requires (kitchen, bath, basement, garage)

Exterior GFI outlets - I like to have at least one outside outlet on each major exterior wall of the house. Useful for maintenance/projects. Make sure they are using proper WR rated outlets with "in use" weather covers.

Interior 220v outlet. If you are going to use an electic dryer this should be in the laundry already. Surprised thats an "option"

Exterior 220v/50a outlet. What the heck for? Are you going to run a welder in the driveway? Most of the time things like this are for generator hookup but that should be a special inlet box wired to a transfer switch - NOT just a simple outlet.

I like the idea of having data and TV wiring to every room in the house. On a brand new build I would consider asking for conduit runs so new cable can be pulled as standards change. If not the data cable should be Cat5e or better yet CAT6 minimum. I wouldn't settle for CAT5.

Many things like the extra lighting, alarm systems, etc are preference. Same with Ring. A lot of people like them, but a lot of people have major privacy concerns. Your decision.

Dimmers? If you are even remotely handy I wouldn't pay them. If you decide later changing one out is an easy DIY and a quality dimmer only costs $20. They will probably use the cheapest $10 builder grade junk....

+1 on the recommendations for timers on all bath fans (you can even get humidity sensing timers), which should be switched SEPERATELY from the lighting. +1 on ultra quiet bath fans and a quiet range hood. Also make sure that they properly vent all fans to outside and don't cheat dumping it into the attic or a soffit. Inspections should catch that but I have seen sometimes they get lazy.
iridum
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by iridum »

We built a house last year and did quite a few electrical upgrades and After moving in I feel i should have done a few more.

1. We added gfi outlets by all toilets (to be able to use bidets that heat water and seat)
2. We got dedicated circuit run for where *we* think we will install a in wall ironing board.
3. We got cat6 cabling throughout the house inside (each bedroom has 2 drops and every level has a ceiling drop for AP’s) and 6 places outside for cameras. Now I feel I should have planned for more drops outside to be able to put wifi extenders in the front and back so that we could get good signal when outside too.
4. We got the garage a 240v 50amp outlet for car charging.
5. Pre-wire or install conduits for cable/fios, so that no one is making holes into the house later on.

Things I should have done:

1. Have more electrical outlets in the garage. Also, wire the electrical outlets on their own circuit and not with the garage door openers. Right now I have 3 garage door openers and 1 fridge plugged in on that circuit. When I try to use my electrical blower, the circuit trips.
2. Get more electrical outlets on the exterior of the house. Plan for atleast 1 outlet on each side of the house.
3. Get an outlet in the attic.
4. Should have installed conduit for solar.
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by bloom2708 »

I would do 220/240 in both laundry and the garage. Maybe multiple 220/240 in the garage per stall.

If you might have an RV or Hot Tub, 30amp to 50amp outside outlets would be nice. Most RV require 30amp.

If you have colder winters, rough natural gas into the garage for a garage heater.

These major things are very hard to retrofit. I would not worry about USB ports or dimmers or anything you can DIY.
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Helo80
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Helo80 »

I chuckled at the Ring doorbell price (absolutely absurd) and the USB outlet charge. That's hospital level gouging.

USB outlets at Lowes/HD are usually in the $20 range. I paid $15 (on sale) for 2 outlets at Costco. The ring door runs off of your exist doorbell.... as long as it's wired there.

Also, I would consider a 50 Amp (I believe the max, but I'm not an electrician) for the garage considering electric cars are the future and it's easier to do it now, than later. Plus, it would be a selling point. My local electrician quoted about $1500 to install a 50 Amp for my garage. (I have no plans to own an electric car ---- I called and was curious what the rough rate was.)
MedSaver
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by MedSaver »

Ring elite requires Ethernet so it may not be that nuts.
btenny
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by btenny »

You need to look at your kitchen wiring and appliance use plan in detail. Make sure various appliances (refrigerator, toaster over, microwave, fancy coffee maker, etc. ) are not all hooked to 1-2 single circuits. Modern appliances each use 10-15 amps each and will over load kitchen wiring if not hooked to separate circuits. So I suggest you add a few extra outlets and 2-3 circuits to your kitchen. Most builders only put in two circuits, one for the outlets and one for the range.

After rewiring my kitchen to work with all my modern appliances it now has seven 110v outlets on four circuits (coffee area, microwave, refrigerator, other outlets) and two 220v outlets (wall oven, stove top) each on single circuits.

You also did not say how you will heat water. Is the water heater gas or electric? How far is it from the heater to the various hot water faucets? Will the heater have a recirculater pump and return line or be on demand heating and need high power?

SLO is a great area. Hope you enjoy it. Good Luck.
ncbill
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by ncbill »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 9:04 am
HomeStretch wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:50 pm
lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:33 pm ...
Good call in switched lights in closets and pantry. I am checking that with the builder.
...
Another option to consider is closet lights that go on and off based on door sensors.

Timers on bathroom exhaust fans.
+1
Timer switches on bathroom exhaust fans.

Upgrade to high capacity ultra quiet bathroom exhaust fans.

j🌺
And choose those exhaust fans with heat (requires another switch) if it ever gets chilly in your climate.
Mudpuppy
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by Mudpuppy »

ncbill wrote: Mon Jul 20, 2020 1:23 pm And choose those exhaust fans with heat (requires another switch) if it ever gets chilly in your climate.
This is probably unnecessary in San Luis Obispo (SLO), where the OP is having the house built. SLO is a fairly coastal environment, even though it's a little bit inland. SLO rarely gets down to freezing in the winter, or very hot in the summer. It's a pretty nice place to retire when it comes to climate and amenities.
WhyNotUs
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by WhyNotUs »

Running wires into spaces that are not enclosed is kind of fun and relatively easy. I have a fair bit of it over the years. Running wires, moving fixtures, and adding service is a PITA later and there is not only electrician expenses but drywall, painting, etc.

My list would be different than yours. The future seems oriented to all electric homes and thus I would want to prep my home for that future, even if I was not sure that I would be living there. Speaker wires and cat. wires other than a single location would not be of much interest to me as the future is wireless. Getting internet to my router is the only thing that I would pay for.

An electric dryer outlet seems wise unless the panel is right beside or in the laundry.

I would ask for a price to just run the wire for car charger to convenient location into a dead head box. Should be a lot less.

You did not say heat source but if electric, I want to make sure that my panel can handle all of the above plus solar. As I said, the future is looking like more electric and a panel upgrade if needed is not a big deal at this time and a big deal later. You could add a subpanel later but it is still cheaper now. If you do not have electric heat, then this may not be an issue.
lifebeckonss wrote: Sun Jul 19, 2020 2:33 pm OP here!

Thank you so much for all who posted. I was going to do a reply to each but there are too many posts :).

Here are some nuggets I gathered from the replies:
  • The cost of these upgrades seems very high so I will wait and get these done by an electrician or DIY later when we know what exactly we need.
  • I will check if they offer Cat 6 pre-wiring and get that added to all the rooms. It is a 2-bedroom house so we will need it in 3 rooms.
  • The laundry room comes with a gas connection so we will get a gas dryer and forego the 220v there.
  • Eventually we want to go solar, so I will wait for that and install the 220v, 50Amp in the garage at that time.
  • The house comes with a 200 amp electrical panel.
  • Ceiling fan pre-wiring is standard in both bedrooms and living room.
  • I will review what all outlets are standard and we will then decide on extra outlets.
  • Sounds like having outlets in garage and exterior will be good, so will get those.
  • Good call in switched lights in closets and pantry. I am checking that with the builder.
Thank you all!! :)
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new2bogle
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by new2bogle »

cat 5 wiring is not good enough. get cat 6.
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lifebeckonss
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Re: Electrical upgrades for a new build home

Post by lifebeckonss »

new2bogle wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 2:25 pm cat 5 wiring is not good enough. get cat 6.
New2bogle and others, I am really confused about the cable options. The builder insists that CAT5 is good enough.
But as I research, there is CAT6, CAT6a, CAT6e, CAT7 and CAT8.
What do you folks recommend?
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