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Posted by Steven in Colorado Springs, CO on 12/17/2008

Today I had a great meeting with Architectural Engineer Scott, mostly to go over my recent homework assignment but we got some other issues settled as well. It was a very productive get-together.

Scott had needed some time since I'd given him my layout of lights/switches/outlets to process them and see if they made any sense, so that's what we talked about first. I suspect I made most of the normal rookie mistakes for this kind of thing--way too many outlets, switch controls that didn't necessarily make sense, etc. He was very patient with me as we walked through the house and we simplified some things.

The two biggest areas I probably hadn't thought through very well were the main lighting in the kitchen/hallway/master bedroom area and the outlets in the media room. I had proposed a fairly complicated scheme for the kitchen lighting that involved several cross-linked dimmers (depending on which way you entered this area). Turns out you can't do that in this county; building code just doesn't allow it. We kicked around some options and went with a "path lighting" approach that maximizes the most useful set of lighting (based on the most likely used path between this area and the master bedroom); we took the time to implement a similar (though less elaborate) approach on the upstairs route from the stairs to the computer room.

The other big issue was driven by a promise we'd made to ourselves over time that we would not lack for outlets when we finally built our own house. Unfortunately this led to a lot of "overkill" on my part, when I put far too many outlets in places that really didn't need them. The media room was probably the worst, since I had put three 4-outlet fixtures (a total of 12) in the front of the room where equipment such as the big screen TV, DVD players, etc. would be located. This kind of thing greatly complicated Architect Scott's planning, since each two-outlet fixture has to be counted as something like 180 watts for the purposes of sizing the circuits. When I thought this through, I realized I didn't really need that many outlets--as sound a plan as this might be; (this house has a puny standard two-outlet fixture where my TV and stuff go, for example) it just isn't necessary. The media room will use a projection system mounted in the ceiling, so while there will need to be power there (which I had accounted for) there didn't need to be anything in the front for that system. That meant only relatively small devices (DVD, etc.) needed power and I didn't need as many outlets as I'd thought.

I did this more or less throughout the house though the media room was clearly the biggest offender. We "trimmed" outlets throughout the layout, simplified light fixtures, and discussed some of the options I wanted to make sure we wired for. Of particular interest to me (and probably a pain for Architect Scott) was my insistence on having a way to turn on the exterior lights both in segments (the portion of the house around the driveway, for example) and also retaining an option to turn on every light at once (perhaps when company unfamiliar with the house is coming to visit, or if we have a Bigfoot invasion to fight off).   It was all very productive and I think we both learned a lot.

Afterward, we took care of a couple of other things, which by comparison were relatively simple--water lines and external faucets, exterior lights, propane lines. Most of this was driven by where the things that used them already were, of course, so beyond figuring out whether it made more sense to route things through this wall or that wall, it was pretty easy.

This was a great meeting, and a necessary and important step in getting things all approved.  We made a lot of progress.

And, of course, it was fun (probably more for me than Scott though).


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