Owner Builder: Light Fixtures

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Light Fixtures Enhance the Home

Too often I see a beautiful home with poorly selected light fixtures. It is important for owner builders to include an adequate allowance when budgeting the project. There is no fixed formula because each home has different lighting and fixture requirements. Proper light levels are important. Have a professional assist in determining optimum fixture location and wattage.

As soon as the construction blueprints are complete, steps should be taken to figure out what type of light fixtures you need and where they should go. Finding the right light fixtures will complement your home design.


Review each room, including closets and bathrooms. Give serious consideration to the type of lighting, light fixture or fan you would like to see in each area. I like lighting all closets.

Analyze furniture layout to ensure every seating area will have adequate light for reading. Use accent light for that special painting you'd like to show off. In a craft room or workshop, do not depend on overhead lighting which will cast a shadow over the work area.

Bathroom lighting should include a light in the shower or over the tub. A very nice feature, for any bedroom, is high intensity spot lights, ceiling mounted near the head of the bed. It is best to have two light fixtures, one for each side of the bed. They should be separately swithced just outside here the bed board would be, but within easy reach for switching.

Do you intend to fly a flag? Use low voltage lighting for night lighting the flag. Put a price on each item, prioritize and stay within your budget.

Motion Activated Light Switches

Consider whether a room, closet, bathroom, or utility room would work better with a motion activated light switch. Motion activated light switches work well, are inexpensive and help conserve energy.

Where to Find Fixtures

A good selection of light fixtures and fans can be seen at the local light fixture store or hardware store. Matching your desired fixture selection with prices will help you budget adequately for fixtures and fans.

Many companies also sell light fixtures and fans on-line. The prices are usually competitive and one doesn't always have to pay sales tax. Be sure to include shipping expense when comparing the value. Always read the return policy carefully.

Another option , which can be fun, is searching antique stores. This can be done while on vacation. The perfect fixture for that special room may be found in a little antique store on the coast. Maybe you will find a unique exterior entry chandelier.

If you are shopping for fixtures online or in a catalogue, make a serious attempt to find the same fixtures in a local store to compare prices AND to see it first hand. That way you can confirm the light fixture is exactly what you are looking for.

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Kitchen Lighting

Carefully balance your light fixture allowance. a pantry fixture can be an inexpensive recessed fixture or ceiling mounted light fixture. Few people will ever see it. The fixtures in the entry way or over the dining room table make a statement.

Under cabinet lighting is a nice, inexpensive upgrade. Use under cabinet strip lighting in both the kitchen and the laundry. Be sure to use very thin strip lighting so it does not extend below the cabinet front lip. Put the switch in a convenient location.

Half Plug Switching

In areas where you will have lamps, it is convenient to wire your wall outlets ( bottom half) to a wall switch. Be consistent throughout. You are then able to switch on your lamp as you enter the room. If you don't want the lamp to come on with the switch, use the top of the outlet.

Floor Outlets

If you are installing a concrete slab floor, consider using floor electrical outlets. In the living room , you may want a floor plug under the couch area. This plug can be on a light wall switch.

It is important for the owner builder to have the electrical contractor set conduit prior to concrete pour. This should be done for floor outlets and for kitchen islands. If it is forgotten, concrete will have to be cut at a later date to lay in the conduit and run the wire. This may require an extra inspection and definately extra cost.

Utility Lighting

Put lights in your crawl space, basement and attic. This is a code requirement in many jurisdictions.

Security lighting is a concern for many of us today. Motion detector security are inexpensive and work well. Mount them high enough to provide good coverage for a broad area.

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