ARTICLE Libby Schultz
If you want to get more serious about upgrading your media – and start incorporating some smart home features - then you’ll need to step up the budget.
A typical mid-range lighting and electrical renovation might cost somewhere between $14,000 - $24,000 for electrical services; with an additional $9,000 - $28,000 for AV.
Plan for success
Now you’ve decided to do an electrical makeover, where do you start?
“The first step is to understand how the client lives, and what they want to achieve with their home technology and media,” says Refresh Renovations home renovation consultant Jim Gleeson.
That brief is supplied to the electrician, who then meets the client on-site to develop the electrical plan. Initial costings are provided along with the plan.
When thinking about the electrical layout of your new rooms, it pays to keep an eye on the future. For instance, your kids may not need a TV outlet in their play room now; but that same space could be a teenage hang-out in a few years.
Are there hidden considerations with lighting?
Are you planning a major kitchen renovation? You may not realise it, but this could affect the type of power you’ll need supplied to your home.
If you install lots of power-hungry heating and cooking appliances, you could reach ‘maximum demand’ and require a three-phase upgrade. Matt Slater says this is a growing trend.
“We’re noticing lately, particularly in large villa renovations, that people are putting in very large kitchens – with double ovens, induction hobs, multiple dishwashers, and other appliances.”
As part of your renovation planning, your electrician will do a maximum demand calculation for you, and advise if you need to upgrade to three-phase power.
Matt Slater says the cost of converting to three-phase is anywhere up to $4,500; if it involves running new overhead mains, or pushing through an existing underground conduit. Laying a new underground cable could cost up to $10,000.
How can I make my lighting more efficient?
For any electrical makeover, switching to LED lighting will definitely be on your to-do list. It takes 400% more power to run a standard bulb compared to an LED, and an average-priced LED could save you $270 over the life of the bulb.
Even if you’ve already been swapping out your old bulbs for LEDs, your renovation may be the ideal time to upgrade your fittings to purpose-built LED ones.
Matt Slater says the cost of LED lights supplied by your electrician will range between $40 - $95 (you may be able to buy them cheaper from your lighting shop, but your electrician cannot then guarantee them).
“For a straight swap, we work on 15 minutes per light. So for a $40 light that’s around $55 per light installed, plus a COC for the work.”
Wayne Gordon, a Refresh Renovations home renovation consultant, also recommends using motion-sensor LED strip lighting.
“We installed these under the laundry cabinets in a recent project. As soon as you walk in the laundry, the light is activated by motion sensor. You can also use them in kitchens, hallways, or anywhere in the house. They look amazing – and are actually very cost-effective.”
What lighting choices are available?
Industrial, retro, or ultra-modern? Only you (or your interior designer) can choose the style of lighting that bests suit your home. That’s why your electrician will need you to research the type of lights you prefer.
“There’s such a lot of choice in the market…we advise our clients to browse the Internet and visit lighting retailers to see what they like,” says Matt Slater.
Once you’ve decided on the look and style, your electrician may be able to source the lighting from their own suppliers. Or if you’ve chosen a very specific product, you may need to buy from the retailer direct.
Matt Slater says most mid-range budgets will incorporate LED feature lighting –particularly in kitchens, bathrooms and living areas – to create subtle ambience.
These might include treadlights in hallways, strip lighting behind a kitchen splashback or under a breakfast bar, or under-vanity lights in the bathroom.
Is your sparky replacing all your switches and powerpoints? The good news is you don’t have to settle for the standard white. Electrical suppliers like HPM offer a wide range of sizes, profiles, colours and finishes. The snap-on coverplates come in a wide range of stylish shades – including bright orange, grey, olive and vanilla – to suit your interior style.
How can I automate my home?
Home automation systems allow all the electrical systems in your home – lighting, heating & cooling, security, audio-visual, and video intercoms – to communicate with each other.
Working on a special type of wiring, all these separate electrical functions can be controlled together from central points from your home, or from external locations using apps on your smart device.
An example of a home-based control would be a ‘goodnight’ switch in your bedroom – which automatically turns off all the lights in the house, and closes your blinds.
When you’re not at home, you control things from your smart device instead. For example, if your security system alerts you to a courier driver at the door, you can talk to them via the intercom, and open and close your front door remotely.
There are numerous home automation products and suppliers in the market; so where do you start? When you move beyond the off-the-shelf products, it’s best to seek the advice of your electrician (or preferably an automation specialist). They will usually have a small number of proven brands they prefer to work with.
What electrical can I install for the future?
Matt Slater says “media is becoming more and more important” to homeowners, and is a key component of most electrical makeovers.
“People want to be able to watch and listen to what they want, anywhere in the house. We want the convenience of being able to turn music on from your phone when you’re sitting outside on the deck.”
Jim Gleeson points out that while American homes are embracing wireless, Europeans still prefer to be wired in.
“As a rule of thumb, if you can install wires, we recommend that you do. However wireless is a good option if you can’t get access behind your walls, or it’s not cost-effective to do so.”
To find out how you can turn your house into a ‘smart home’ read our top end lighting and electrical project estimate. If you are just looking to establish the basic wiring in your home read our basic indoor lighting and electrical project estimate.
This project estimate article featured in Issue 018 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
If you would like to discuss indoor lighting and electrical options and ideas for your next renovation project, please use the enquiry form on this page to provide us with your contact details. We will get in touch with you at a time that suits you to discuss your project. If you would like to provide us with more information about your project, we have a more comprehensive enquiry form on our "Get in touch" page too.
*Costs are rough estimates and are subject to change. For a fixed-quote accurate to your specific project, please consult your local Refresh Renovations specialist. All Refresh Renovations franchises are independently owned and operated.