Important Electrical Considerations When Building A Custom Home

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Building your own home gives you the freedom to build a home that is exactly what you want – your dream home. However, it can be an overwhelming process at times. While you get to dream about the design of your master bath and that amazing new kitchen you are about to have, you also need to think about the things that require additional knowledge and experience, like plumbing and your electrical setup. Working with a great custom home builder will make a difference in helping to plan these other areas of your home that aren’t necessarily your expertise.

Even when working with an amazing builder, it’s beneficial for you to have an understanding of the important aspects of each of the components that ultimately come together to create your new home. 

That’s why we’re starting our building a custom home series to give you an understanding of different aspects of your custom home build from plumbing to electrical to appliances and insulation, we’ll cover it all. To start this series we’ll cover electrical considerations when building a custom home.

Electrical Considerations When Building A Custom Home

Today we’ll cover important electrical considerations when building a custom home and ideas for you to consider in your build. Use this guide to help you plan your electrical work to build a home that ultimately exceeds your expectations with ideas and information pulled from our years of experience in the home building industry.

Before we jump into all the good stuff, here is an overview of the topics we’ll cover. Use these ideas & recommendations when planning the electrical in your custom home build. 

  • Connection with Utilities
  • Electrical Panels & Placement
  • Outlets
  • Prewiring Considerations

Electrical Connection – Getting Power To Your Property

Connecting your home to power is one of the most important electrical considerations when building a custom home. Your new home’s electrical setup starts with getting connected to your local power company. To get power to your property, the first step is contacting your local utility provider to find out if your property is even able to be connected. Yes, it is true. Not all properties are able to connect to the local utility company. That’s why this is your first step. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume that your property does have the ability to connect with the local power company.

If your property doesn’t have an electrical hookup yet, your first step will be to work with the power company to get power to your property. This process may be different depending on location and power company. If you are in Idaho and will use Idaho Power for service, you can reference this guide for new residential service. In other areas, determine your local power company and then review their information on starting new residential service.

For some properties, you may already have an electrical connection on your land. In this case, you’ll likely just need your local electricity provider to install a meter to measure your power use and to connect to the electrical panel in your new home. The location of the panel & utility connection is an important electrical consideration when building a home.

Location of Your Power Connection

When designing your home, you’ll want to take the location of the connection on your property into account. In general the further the connection on your property to your home’s electrical panel, the greater the cost will be to connect. This is because you’ll potentially need additional trenching and cabling to create your connection. The further you are the more of this labor and equipment you’ll need and the greater the cost. S

tandard utility connections, which are typical on city lots, usually include up to 50 feet of conduit and trenching for your utilities. If you have acreage and end up requiring more than 50 feet for your home’s electrical connection, this cost is typically $28 per foot.

It’s also important to consider where the connection is relative to your home design. If you are putting in a pool and the pool is directly in between your utility connection and the panel in your home, you may want to reconsider this layout. Other things like crossing waterways, driveways, additional buildings, and even having to cross other people’s property are important electrical considerations when building a new home and planning for your power connection.

Beyond placement, there are other things that can impact the cost of your home’s electrical connection. For example, if the electrical pole on your property is not structurally sound and the power company needs to put in a new one, that will be an added cost for your power connection. We’ve seen this happen before with a cost to the property owner of around $3,000 for the electrical pole replacement. Considering your electrical connection and talking with the local power company about your power connection can really help you to plan for and understand any additional cost when building a custom home.

Electrical Panels In A Custom Home

Electrical Panel Placement

Another important electrical consideration when building a home is that your local utility company will ultimately decide where your home’s electrical panel will go; however, you can request where you’d like the panel to go. The electrical panel is the connection point for your local utility company’s power line to the power in your home. In most cases, you’ll want the panel to be located as close to your power connection as possible. 

There are also electrical standards that must be followed for the location of your electrical panels for safety and accessibility purposes. These include things like the space surrounding the panel and whether your panel needs to be weatherproofed. 

A common panel location in many homes is in the garage because there is typically enough space and the garage allows the panel to be out of sight when in the living areas of your home. The basement is another common area for an electrical panel to be installed. However, if you don’t have an attached garage or a basement, you might consider a dedicated utility closet or utility room for your electrical panel. This option allows you to create a safe, dedicated space for your panel while keeping the panel out of sight.

400 Amp Panel or Standard 200 Amp Panel?

Another important electrical consideration when building a custom home is your panel size. The current standard for most residences is the 200 amp panel. This is also our standard electrical panel included in all of our custom house plans. A 200 amp panel is typically sufficient for most homes. 

So why consider a 400 amp panel upgrade? A 400 amp electrical panel would be ideal if you are planning to use high power loads in your home. For example, are you building a home with a shop where you plan to be using high voltage equipment that a typical household wouldn’t? This is one occasion when a 400 amp panel upgrade would be beneficial.

Benefits of A 400 Amp Panel

Beyond higher power loads, a 400 amp panel also provides benefits like the option to use additional circuit breakers. This allows for enhanced electrical safety by improving protection against electrical damage and electrical fires by reducing the chances of circuit overload. With a larger 400 amp panel, you can create a separate circuit for individual appliances and outlets if you’d like, such as your oven or your dedicated home entertainment outlet, protecting your appliances and equipment from the potential damage caused by a circuit overload.

Another benefit of a 400 amp panel is the potential increase in home value. When you have the option for additional power already built in, it’s an added benefit should you ever decide to sell your home.

One other consideration regarding a 400 amp panel versus a 200 amp panel when building your home is that when you install a 400 amp panel from the start, it will cost you less than if you want to upgrade to a 400 amp panel later. This is because you won’t need to make any changes to the wiring that you would need to make later if you upgrade and need to retrofit your electrical setup from a 200 amp panel to a 400 amp panel.

Pre-Wiring Considerations For Your Custom Home Build

Even if you don’t plan to use or install certain equipment right away, there are several electrical considerations when building a home that will save you money down the road if you pre-wire for them. Similar to the 400 amp panel versus the 200 amp panel, these are some of the most common situations to consider pre-wiring to save cost later.

Hot Tub

If you are considering a hot tub at any point in the future, or even if you aren’t considering it yet, but want the option, prewiring for a hot tub during your home build will save you time and money if you decide it’s something you want in the future.

Ceiling Fans

Wiring for ceiling lights and ceiling fans is not the same. When you are building your home, you’ll need to specify the locations where you’d like to install a ceiling fan so that your home can be wired for this option. 

This is one of the electrical considerations when building a new home that we always recommend pre-wiring for. In any room where you’ll have wiring for a ceiling light fixture, consider including the pre-wiring for ceiling fans. The office, dining room, bedrooms are all locations where you might not plan to install a fan now, but pre-wiring to have this option readily available in the future will make that fan installation a breeze when you do want it.

Wall Mounted TV Wiring

These days, most households have a flat screen TV or two that can easily be wall mounted to save space. This makes wiring for a wall mounted TV almost essential when building a new home; however, it may not be standard or be a standard inclusion in each room you’d like to have a wall mounted TV. Thinking about which rooms you may want to have a wall mounted TV and where that TV would go will help you determine when and where to install this wiring when building a custom home. 

Having this pre-wired means you can hide any unsightly cables when you install your new TVs because you’ll already have an outlet and any necessary wiring installed in a convenient location behind your wall mounted TV. You won’t need to worry about running the cables needed behind the wall because they’ll already be there and pre-wired for an easy plug and play option.

Home Entertainment Systems

If you want to use a home entertainment system such as a full home sound system or surround sound for your TVs, pre-wiring for these options will make a big difference during installation. When you plan for and pre-wire for these systems installing an entertainment or sound system on your own becomes a much more enjoyable experience. You don’t need to worry about running your speaker cables all throughout the house because you’ve already had it done during your build.

Smart Home Features

Some smart home features like security systems, connected TVs, and smart blinds are all important features to consider pre-wiring for when building a custom home. While smart home technology can make your life easier, it also becomes a hassle if you need to figure out how to run the wiring needed or if your devices are overloading your current network. Here are a few items to consider including in pre-wiring for smart home systems when building a custom home.

  • Pre-wire all TV outlets with a Cat6 ethernet cable so that all TVs have a wireless connection. This allows TVs to be connected via a wired connection and reduces the load on your home’s wireless network.
  • Add Cat6 wiring into any rooms potentially used as an office or bedroom so that you have the option to use a wired internet connection for any home gaming or office setup should you choose to in the future.

  • If you may want a smart home panel, consider pre-wiring for this with Cat6 connection where you’d want your panel. Ideal location might be near the garage or side entryway, in a central location like the living room, or potentially near the front door.

  • Pre-wire exterior connections with PoE wiring for potential installation of home security cameras.

  • Consider pre-wiring with network cables for additional smart appliances like washer/dryer, refrigerator, or dishwasher. While these appliances can all be used with a WiFi connection, being able to connect using a wired connection means you’ll reduce the load on your home’s wireless network to help prevent connectivity issues in the future.

  • Pre-wire for an additional router or network access points in larger homes. If you are building a home with a large square footage you may want to consider adding wired connection to strategic rooms in your home to expand your wireless connectivity as needed.

  • Pre-wire for smart blinds and shades. If you want the option to use smart blinds or shades in your custom home, pre-wiring for this option during your home build will be invaluable. The wiring needed can depend on the product you want to use, but you’ll need wiring for each window you want to have a smart blind or shade. Given that you’ll likely have multiple windows in each room of your home, this can become a significant project if you haven’t pre-wired during home construction. Pre-wiring for this option will save you money in the future should you ever choose to install smart blinds and shades.

Planning Outlets In A Custom Home Build

Outlets are one of those items that you never really hear anyone say, “I wish I didn’t have so many.” They are an important electrical considerations when building a new home. Having outlets in the right places in your home can improve convenience and aesthetics by removing the need to run an extension cord or hiding your commonly used charging cables. Here are a few ideas to consider for outlets when building a custom home.

Special Outlets

There are certain outlets you may consider that are non-standard voltages or used for special purposes.

Outlet for Electric Vehicle Charging

In most new homes, we recommend adding an outlet (or two) in the garage to use for charging an electric vehicle. Even if you don’t have an electric vehicle now, you may have guests visit you that do and having this outlet installed in your home adds the convenience of being able to easily charge vehicles as needed.

Outlet for RV Hookup

For any RV owners, or future RV owners, installing a dedicated RV hookup is a convenient option to have. You won’t have to worry about powering up your RV anytime you want when you have this option available to you. It’s a small added cost during your build for the extra convenience.

Ideas For Outlet Placement In A Custom Home

An Underrated Electrical Consideration When Building A Custom Home

There are endless options for where to add outlets in your home. We already covered a few, like outlets installed specifically for wall mounted TVs, and below are a few more of our favorite ideas for outlet placement to consider when building a custom home.

Outlets Inside Cabinets

In the bathroom an outlet in the cabinet can be used to charge your electric toothbrushes without having to have them sit out on the countertop. In the kitchen or office, a cabinet outlet can be used to hide devices like an ipad or cell phones as they charge.

Additional Exterior Outlets

Exterior outlets are an often overlooked detail when building a custom home, but can add a lot of value in terms of convenience. Adding outlets under the eaves that are connected to an interior switch makes holiday lighting much more convenient. Adding outlets near any outdoor living spaces like the front entry or patio are also great ways to add convenience to these areas.

You may also consider adding at least one outlet on each exterior wall. No matter what you end up using these exterior outlets for having one on each side allows you to conveniently plugin whatever you need without the hassle of additional feet of extension cord.

Additional Outlets In The Living Room or Common Areas

In the living room strategically placed floor outlets can be beneficial for adding additional lighting or for convenient charging of laptops, phones, or ipads. A standard feature in most home builds is an outlet at each end of the wall; however, you may also find it convenient to have an extra outlet in the middle of the wall in common areas enabling you to plug in devices without running an extension cord to the corners of the room.

Another great place to consider adding an outlet is on either side of a mantel. This allows you to plug in anything you may have sitting on the mantel without worrying about what side it is on.

Bedroom Outlets

Having an outlet on each side of the bed in all bedrooms is convenient for bedside table lamps and charging phones at night. We recommend this in every bedroom. 

Outlets in Closets

Closet outlets can be convenient for many reasons. A few uses we see are charging a vacuum or another device you don’t want sitting out. They can also be nice for plugging in an iron or steamer.

Outlets in the Stairway

Adding an outlet or two in any stairways can be a nice addition that you may use to plug in a nightlight.

Kitchen Outlets

If you’ll have an island in the kitchen, don’t overlook the importance of outlets here. Consider adding an extra outlet here for any small appliances you may use. Remember it’s unlikely you’ll be saying you wish you hadn’t added that extra outlet.

You may also consider adding outlets under kitchen cabinets. This allows you to have many outlets without interrupting your backsplash.

As we mentioned outlets are an essential electrical consideration when building a custom home and the options for outlets are endless depending on your home design and needs. These ideas for outlet placement when building a home represent just a few of our favorites. In general when deciding where to add outlets in your home having more than what you need is better than wishing you had more.


Taking time to review these electrical considerations when building a home from electrical panel placement to pre-wiring and outlets can have a huge impact on your satisfaction with the final product and any future home upgrades.

Home electrical systems are one of those areas where the upgrades and pre-planning during construction can save you a lot of time and money later. It’s important to be familiar with the options you have available to determine what would be most beneficial to you.

Your home builder will be another invaluable resource as you plan and build your new home. If you are looking for a home builder in Idaho to build a custom home on your land, contact us today for a free consultation
Just getting started and looking for ideas? Take a look at our home plans, all fully customizable, or view more of our home building resources.