Electrical, Plumbing or Design Decisions – Which Comes First?

To avoid renovation nightmares, homeowners should make electrical and plumbing decisions first, designing a concept around the appropriate electrical and plumbing capabilities of the space.


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BACKGROUND: In January of this year, eLocal announced a new blog-off series that was designed to bring bloggers and professionals together to discuss hot topics and exciting trends in home improvement.  The intent of the blog was to eliminate your need to search the web for the answers to your most pressing home improvement questions.

I was asked to participate as one of the expert contributors, offering my expertise in the areas of home wiring and electrical matters.

FIRST QUESTION: When to Make Plumbing and Electrical Decisions in the Design Process – Should the dream design come first or should plumbing and electrical considerations be considered before all else?


“In any home renovation project, the first step is good planning. The first consideration should be given to the location of the major plumbing fixtures, like the toilet, bathtub and/or shower, the wash basin(s), and any other plumbing fixtures. Depending on the particulars of the home design, it is not very likely that the drain lines can be moved very far from their existing locations due to the constraints of the original construction design.

If the home has an unfinished basement or crawlspace situated below the project area, then you will have a greater chance of being able to move the fixtures around from the original locations, but if the home construction is slab on grade, chances are you will not be able to move fixtures at all without some major modifications to the plumbing infrastructure that is set in the concrete slab.

Water supply lines can be shortened or extended and electrical outlets can be moved or altered by the use of strategically placed junction boxes, GFCI receptacles, light outlets and switch locations. How far fixtures are moved from the existing locations will dictate how much of the existing wall board will have to be removed or damaged to accommodate the changes.

So to answer the question, the homeowner should make plumbing and electrical decisions first, designing a concept around the appropriate plumbing and electrical capabilities of the space, or you could find yourself the author of an infamous renovation nightmare!”


Now, with electricians, plumbers, interior designers, renovators, painters, etc., responding to this question, you can well imagine the varying opinions on the topic.  If you’d like to read the different comments – and there certainly were opinions that differed from mine – click here to read about in on eLocal’s blog.

And please feel free to throw your two cents into the discussion by adding a comment at the end of this article!

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