How To Get Your Lighting Plan Perfect The First Time

Shedding Light on your Electrical Walk-Through

Your electrical walk-through is one of the most important steps to customizing your new home. This will happen once the walls are framed. You’ll meet with the electrician and possibly your contractor and “walk-through” your entire home room-by-room to finalize exactly where your outlets and light fixtures will be.

The importance of this step is pretty obvious — the electrician needs to know about any specific outlet and fixture placements at this time and any custom or additional wiring needs your home requires. Once the house is wired, drywall is not far behind and at that time any changes would not be advised. Think huge headache, schedule delays and high-fee change orders — essentially, it’s just not going to happen. So, let’s get you ready for that important electrical walk-through.

Visit the lighting showroom before the walk-through:

Bring along your house plans, know your lighting allowance and plan to have a close-to-final idea about your light fixtures by the time you leave this appointment. Concentrate on your feature fixtures such as the dining and entry lights, pendants you’ll want over your island and how many ceiling fans you plan to have. Your electrician will have a standard layout for your home so your job is to know the custom fixtures you want so he can wire for them.

Speaking of Allowances

As we said, the bid for your home was most likely based on the standard amount of outlets and fixtures. Be aware that each additional request beyond that will add to your overall budget (per opening). So be sure those wall sconces not figured into the initial bid are worth the cost.

Know your furniture measurements and placements:

Do your homework before your walk-through … take measurements of your furniture and bring those along. Most important on this list is sofas, TVs, beds and a must is your dining room table. Many times the light above your dining tables is a statement feature in your home, so you’ll want to be sure it’s exactly where it should be.

A terrific suggestion is to make a paper template of your actual table (you can tape newspapers together, for instance). During your walk-through set the template on the floor, adjust it to the perfect spot and voila, your electrician knows exactly where to wire for that gorgeous dining light you’ve fallen in love with! You can use this same strategy for your kitchen island to be sure your pendants find their perfect spot.

Architectural Details:

Incorporating a beamed ceiling into your home? Many times your electrician will have to figure these into his wiring plan to be sure everything lays out as planned. Be sure he’s aware of any custom ceiling decor.

Special Requests:

Need a floor outlet in the center of your greatroom for lamps on your sofa table? Or how about pre-wired nightlights on the stairs? Now’s the time to make these requests.


OK we’re getting closer and closer to a completely wireless home, but you’ll still need to discuss with your electrician all your media needs — again, be ready with placement and layout for all your equipment: which screens will be wall-mounted, extra outlets for your home office and so on.

Don’t forget about your Outdoor areas:

While standard exterior outlets will already be on your plan, be sure to consider wiring needs for all your outdoor spaces. Love string lights on your deck or patio? Now’s the time to be sure you have the outlets for them. Discuss if you’ll be adding any low-voltage garden or walkway lighting. Planning on a hot tub? Let your electrician know so he can wire the proper circuit to handle the extra amps.

Come dressed for the event:

OK, I realize this may not apply to a lot of you, but those of us in the northern part of the country, take heed during the winter months. The coldest I have ever been in my life was doing a walk-through with clients in January … in Minnesota. Regardless if your house is “closed in” (roof, windows, doors installed) I assure you it will be as cold in your home as it is outside. Electrical walk-throughs will take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours so be prepared and dress for the weather. Alright, I’m done with my lecture … So, do your homework and come prepared. Your electrician will LOVE you and this crucial step to your dream home will be a breeze!

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