Electrical Selections

The first thing I found frustrating about preparing for the electrical selections appointment is that you go in completely disarmed of pricing information. This worried us, particularly having scoured various blog posts where people describe their experience of these spiralling out of control. So I did my research and we went in as prepared as we could possibly be.

During the appointment, the screen shows a running total of how much extra it's going to cost you every time you open your mouth or nod. Keep a close eye on this, because it's easy to get distracted as the consultant whizzes through things (part of their sales technique no doubt), then next time you glance it's jumped up by a couple of $1000's!

Lighting Interior
As part of the Metricon Reflections Package (in Jan 2010), we already receive a "starter pack" of 20 hooded downlights. In preparation I went through our floor plans and scattered these through the house, soon realising it wasn't going to go far. If we were to apply downlighting to the majority (but not even all) living areas, then that  number would easily double or more. Again, not having a price list beforehand made it difficult to budget for this, but most blog posts suggested a consensus that (a) expect > $100 per downlight and (b) expect to be $crewed over. :)

So we finally ended up with this plan:
  • Allocate the majority of downlights to the downstairs, since it is far more difficult to install these afterwards without making a mess of your brand new ceilings. This included the bulkhead over the kitchen wall and downstairs powder room.
  • Anywhere else upstairs where we wanted downlights upstairs we had a standard batten point allocated instead ($35 each additional). Since all rooms will have at least one batten you only need to pay for the extras. Then the wiring and placement of the holes for these is correct, and after handover we will just get a sparky to swap them out for downlights.
  • In the master bedroom we are just having a noggin installed ($35) somewhere central to the room for a future ceiling fan and will go with some nice bedside lighting instead (made sure that we have an extra power point behind the bed, by default they only give you one on one side). 
  • Having fallen in love with the Saturn wall switches but scorned by the builder's price, we'll get the standard switch plates installed and then upgrade after handover. There are many online suppliers for these.

Lighting Exterior

Once again, you'll be "delighted" at builder's prices for external lighting fixtures. Therefore, based on other people's advice, we've gone with the following:

  • Junction Boxes only (fully wired back to wall switches inside) at front (x4) and rear (x2) - $65 each. Will source light fittings online and get sparky to fit to JB's after handover.
  • Strengthened noggin to centre of outdoor room for future ceiling fan - $35 for noggin and $35 for pre-wiring.
  • Will have sparky cut holes and fit downlights for outdoor room after handover (since roof space there should be relatively accessible).

Just a few additional power points here and there Singles are $35, doubles $45:

  • Added single GPO to front Sitting Room for gas heater.
  • Added single GPO to rear Sitting Room for gas heater.
  • Added single GPO to Master Bedroom WIR above shelf height for future alarm.
  • Added single GPO to upstairs for kids night light provision (so that they can see their way to the toilet).
  • Added double GPO to garage for communications hub (see below).
  • Added an external GPO to outdoor room and another elsewhere at the back of the house for future garden lights etc.

Home Network
This was my pet project. :) I work in the IT industry by trade, and in the past have dabbled with home automation technologies such as X10. So, given an unlimited budget I could have gone crazy! However, needed to be sensible about it and balance costs against what will suit out needs in the medium term and could be expanded beyond that. 

The objectives were (after considerable research on forums, some WAF buy-in, etc.):
  • Minimise amount of visible equipment in Study (since there are no doors, and it's immediate visible on entry)
  • Access digital media from home media server in multiple rooms (via XBox extender, etc).
  • VOIP phone provision (either through wireless back to ATA, or dedicated VOIP handsets)
  • Access same Foxtel IQ in Family Room from Master Bedroom (including IR) 
  • Centralised communications hub (we decided to locate this in the garage). Will build my own later, with cabinet.
  • CAT-6 cabling ($25 to upgrade each run from CAT-5)
  • FTA/F-Type coax to multiple rooms
  • Conduit provision for wall mount of TV in Family Room ($110, with draw-wire)
  • Alarm dialer needs provision to access/intercept phone line
  • Wireless-N network for laptop usage
  • Speaker-wire provision from Family Room to Outdoor Room (for future ceiling-mount outdoor speakers)

Here's a diagram I put together to try and plan out the home network based on the above:

In the end we took out the FTA coax wiring from upstairs, given that we have to pay someone after handover for a FTA antenna installation anyway, so I'll get them to add the extra sockets then. Metricon provides two FTA points anyway, which we've provisioned downstairs to connect-up later. Also, Foxtel will do the full installation (ideally for free if you catch them during a promotion) so why pay the builder lots of money to do the F-Type coax pre-wiring? There are several plumbing/electrical "voids" in the house adjacent to where these runs will go, and I hope it should be reasonably easy for the Foxtel contractor to drop-in the connections. We shall see.

Am running dual CAT-6 from the Family Room to the Master Bedroom so that I can use one of these funky cold HDMI over CAT6 adapters to view the same recorded IQ content in the bedroom and also use a 2nd Foxtel remote from there. Should have high WAF. :)

By the way, apparently there's no FTTH/Cable available in Beaumont Rise, so it's going to have to be Foxtel by Satellite. :(

Air Conditioning

We had already selected the standard Metricon ducted air selection for double-story homes during the sales/tendering process - that being a Daikin Night & Day 15kw setup. I was under the impression this was a 3-phase model but the electrical consultant wanted to hit us with another few thousand to upgrade to 3-phase. Seems that the model that Metricon supplies by default has "3-phase wiring" only - and it's very cheeky the way they word it. The electrical consultant said that most people get caught out by this.

Needless to say we pushed back on the basis that we're being charged over $12K and we thought that "steering" you into another few thousand this way was quite simply taking the mickey. We'd likely be up for installation of 3-phase metering as well.

Post-Handover Notes (May 2011)

Now that we're in, here are some additional notes that may be of help to others researching electrical selections for their builds:
  • The 3 battens that we assigned for over the kitchen island bench were not equally spaced with respect to the island bench! Apparently, unless you specifically nominate position and equal spacing, the electricians are completely within their rights to be arbitrary about this based on constraints of ceiling joists, a/c ducting etc. Make sure you get it noted on your plan you want equal spacing.
  • You know that phenomenon where you naturally reach out your arm to turn-on/turn-off a light switch when entering/leaving a room without really even thinking about it? Well we're finding that the light switch placements in a few rooms doesn't match where our brains are naturally expecting them to be! Go to the display home and pretend you are walking in and out of rooms at night doing the above. Note your preferences. Then ensure that the electrical consultant positions them there!
  • For double-storey builds, nominate your FTA points for prewiring on the ground floor. Even if you don't think you'll need them anytime soon, add Pay-TV points on the ground floor as well. It's relatively easy for installers to add points upstairs, and next to impossible to do so downstairs. We did the prewiring for this and were very happy with the ease that FTA antenna and Foxtel were connected-up after handover.
  • The electricity meter installation and connection cost us $650 (3-phase metering). This is not part of your contract+variations and is required in the final phases of the build - furthermore it won't be quoted until then. Those with above ground electricity poles could be up for more. This is not something that was well explained at our electrical consult.
  • If you are disconnecting from a previous land-line connection, ask Tel$tra for a fee-free connection on your new home. If they agree, ask them to record it in the notes on your old account. Then when you need to get connected at the new home (even if 12-18 months later), refer to the notes on your old account and get your landline connected for free (even if you then dump them for Naked ADSL).


  1. Hi Craig,

    Great stuff you have here. Congratulations on your new home. We are building the Franklin 40 with the Plantation Facade. I am also keen to get Metricon to put in Junction Boxes on the external walls so that I get my own lights.

    Question: As I understand the Junction Boxes are redundant after fixing the external lights. After removal of the Junction Box, wouldn't there be a large hole behind the box. I presume my external lights have to be large enough to hide that hole. Am I correct? Did you get any surprise after you remove your Junction Boxes?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks. Not sure since we haven't removed the junction boxes as yet. However since I did see the wiring pulled through the brick at 'rough-in' stage, the hole was only big enough for the wire itself. So I am not expecting anything significant. I imagine if it there was, it would create an issue for many people who use the same strategy of choosing to fit their own lights after handover.

    Good luck with your build!

  3. Hi Craig,

    We actually have not reached the stage of having our Electrical appointmenta. I am just doing some planning at this stage. I am toying with the idea of making provision for external CCTV IP cameras. Do you think Metricon can lay CAT6 cables to the outside of the house? Another question, how much did they charge you to lay CAT6 cable per point?

    Thanks in advance for the advise. All the best to you and your family.

  4. A note on connecting power - we were told it would be extra at our consultation but so quickly I almost missed it! For us the cost was a whopping $1020 as we have a private power pole connected to above ground wires. Ouch.

  5. "A" - they will probably run cables and terminate them in the roof space at your request at specified locations. In my experience with Vaccaro as the appointed electrical contractor for Metricon in North West Sydney, it was $125 for each Cat6 run including termination. That may change with time and depending on the appointed contractor. Just remember, downstairs in a double-story is very hard (nigh impractical in some cases) to add points after gyprocking. Upstairs can be extended in the future. If your data hub/router area is downstairs, then have at least a few spare runs going upstairs/roof - these can always be further distributed upstairs in the future by a small inexpensive ethernet hub.