House extension: electrical specifications on plan. We have seen what mechanical specifications on plan are, let’s now take a look at electrical specifications on plan. Considerately produced electrical specifications on plan will give you, the homeowner, the confidence that your wish list of power, lighting and AV and data needs have been met, and gives the Builder/Electrician an unambiguous to-do list of what you are expecting to see delivered in your extension. Let’s take a look at the main electrical specs that a good set of working drawings will include.
First up, the consumer unit. Electrical standards are always evolving. Currently, new power and lighting circuits must be RCD-protected. If you have an old-style fuse board, then the chances are you will need to upgrade to a compliant consumer unit. In some instances, it may be possible to run a secondary (compliant) unit off of the old one, which solely serves the new extension. Either way, it is good practice to know this sooner so you can plan for it.
Power. The location of every power socket should be identified on plan. Decide whether the sockets are single or double, USB or standard, white plastic face plates or brushed steel. This task isn’t as easy as it sounds, as you will be forced to think vicariously about how the new space will be used and lived in. For instance, you will need to decide which wall the T.V will be on and where you will sit to watch it before deciding how many sockets to supply.
The same considerations go for lighting and switching design. Think about ceiling lights verses spotlights, wall lights verses lamps. Ruminate too about the choice of bulb, whether warm or cool, as this will overlap with your decorative and colour selections later. The choice is largely personal and also informed by the nature of the new space. Is it intimate or open? for utility or leisure? Decisions on lighting will perhaps be the most emotive of them all.
In the noughties you would be running telephone cables around the house, but today you need to lay the infrastructure for heavy data usage. The home marches on into an ever-digitised ecosystem and your household data needs will only increase with time. Consider pulling the highest-grade data cables into the extension; stuff that can handle a gig’s worth of zeroes and ones without breaking a sweat. Better still, pull the data cables through in conduits to allow for future upgrades and the reduced attenuation.
On the audio-visual front, you will benefit from taking time to consider what you actually need as opposed to defaulting for the biggest and best available products (It’s still a hoot to see a 3m x 2m living room pimped out with Dolby’s heavy artillery, when the TV speaker would be just fine for acoustics in a room of that size). Conventional coaxial and gunshot cables are quickly becoming redundant as more content is from the traditional platforms is now being streamed.
Linked to this we have the consideration of smart home automation systems, such as Crestron and Control4, with centrally integrated and control audio-visual, heating, lighting, security, curtains and more. Such systems are (at least in their full glory), perhaps overkill for a house extension designed under conventional permitted development rights, but worthy of mention, nonetheless.
The electrical specifications on plan should also take account of the number, location and make of smoke alarms and heat detectors that will be required in the extension and rest of the house.
If any ancillary power or lighting supplies run to be run to serve fixtures or fittings, then these should also be marked onto the working drawings. Examples of such would be PIR light sensors to hallways, lighting to cupboards or power to heated bathroom mirrors.
So, a tight set of electrical specifications on plan will cater for you power, lighting, data and AV needs, and more. By virtue of drawing them out accurately, you minimise the chances of rogue sockets and mystery switches from sprouting around your extension, not to mention to cost of putting them right.
If you would like some free planning advice, get in touch with us.