A dining room chandelier provides light and ambiance for this often forgotten room (read: The Unused Dining Room Dilemma). Like a beautiful piece of jewelry, dining room chandeliers often act as the room's focal point. With an open floor plan, your dining room needs something to define its' space. Such was the dilemma in my house where the great room is 28 by 30 feet.
You really multiple ways in which you can define individual rooms within a great room. Most of your options are in the ceiling or floor. Strangely some homeowners will add a room divider where a traditional wall would have been but not in my house. The most common choices are:
- Dining room chandelier that defines the space as … a dining room! This is much cheaper than putting in a tray ceiling or decorative ceiling trim.
- Dining rooms can also be defined by an area rug that serves a double purpose, by also protecting the floor.
This article was prompted by miscommunication with my builder, Richmond American Homes. While I was able to select (and pay for) pendant lights over the kitchen island, no mention was made of a dining room chandelier. As I thought about the more than $2,000 I agreed to pay to complete the wiring in my new home, I sent an email asking about wiring for the dining room chandelier.
The builder's home gallery representative told me a dining room chandelier was standard but no wiring was installed. Now the builder's warranty department doesn't want to accept responsibility for correcting the mistake. That's the short explanation … keep reading to learn more about product builders like Richmond American.
Dining Room Chandelier: Standard or Upgrade?
After selecting my house plan with modifications like a 3-car garage and putting down a deposit, I was invited to visit Richmond American Home's design center in Orlando. The sales people try to play up all the exciting upgrades available but … the day was more of a disaster.
The gallery visit was a series of discussions, with no documentation or menu to explain the flow of our dialog. There were many (too many) surprises that will take multiple articles to share. For example, the cost to upgrade cabinets to white wood was marked up roughly 200% giving the builder a nice profit. I opted to install my own cabinets after closing (read: Replacing Cheap Kitchen Cabinets).
This article focuses on what I had to spend to finish wiring my house. After paying more than $2,000 for additional wiring, I still didn't get a dining room chandelier. Most of this wiring should have been covered in the base house price. After this experience, I finally understand and believe Lennar's “Everything Included” makes a lot more sense, so buyers don't have to stumble into hidden surprises.
Electrical Wiring is Cheaper When Walls are Open
If you're building a house or remodeling, this is the perfect time to add the electrical wiring and plumbing you want. You'll cut your costs in half when the walls are open because it's much easier and faster for electricians and plumbers to run wires and pipes through the walls.
40 years ago I had to pay for ceiling lights in all the bedrooms. This was the last thing I expected to pay for with a new build house in 2019. It's really false advertising where the builder advertises a lower home cost until you add in things like bedroom lights (or fans), garage coach lights and yikes, I didn't get wiring for my dining room chandelier!
Here's what I had to pay for extra wiring in my home built by Richmond American Homes. When the analysis is done, it's not clear that the house was any cheaper than Lennar's “Everything Included” that was less than a mile away.
|Ceiling fan (or light) prewire & 2 switches – front bedroom||Wiring cost $200||Wiring included|
|Ceiling fan (or light) prewire & 2 switches – side bedroom||Wiring cost $200||Wiring included|
|Ceiling fan (or light) prewire & 2 switches – study||Wiring cost $200||Wiring included|
|Pendant lights (3) over kitchen island||Wiring cost $264||Wiring for 2 included|
|Dining room chandelier prewire & switch||MISSING!!!||Wiring included|
|Rocker light switches||$214||Included|
|Dedicated 110v outlet in garage for freezer||$209||Unknown|
|Outdoor patio outlets for future landscaping (2)||2 outlets cost $456||Single outlet|
|Additional closet outlet for modem, router, etc.||1 outlet cost $71||Wiring plus Wifi router|
|Prewire & 1 switch for garage coach lights (3)||Wiring cost $359||Two lights included|
|Prewire for garage door openers (3)||Wiring included||Openers & remotes|
|Prewire Internet data Cat5 (2 Internet; 3 cable included)||Wiring cost $180||Included|
|Total cost of electrical upgrades||$2,353|
No Electrical Checklist, No Discussion & No Dining Room Chandelier!
You might assume the builder would provide a checklist of electrical options so you could prioritize upgrades that are most important to you. Here's an example of an electrical checklist that can help a home buyer identify what's most important, from light fixtures to outlets and switches, inside and outside your home. Many should cost nothing like lowering switches by 6 inches for small kids, moving switches to make them easier to reach. If you put your furniture plan together, you can ask for outlets to be moved so they're not stuck behind furniture.
With no checklist and no discussion at the home gallery, it took me a week or so to question whether there would be wiring for my dining room chandelier. With my corporate background I knew it was important to confirm this in writing, so I sent an email in October asking:
- Dining chandelier question – We never discussed pre-wire for chandelier over dining room table. Can you confirm that's standard?
- Answer from Richmond's design gallery representative – “There is a standard light fixture over where a dining room table would be.”
While I closed in May (7 months after email exchange above), I didn't realize there was no wiring for the dining room chandelier until August. I reported this to the warranty manager, in an email titled “Restarting Punchlist“. Three months had elapsed since the closing and only 3 contractors had been out to the house for a punchlist with 70 items.
Another three months went by as I was busy dealing with a flooded house. The new warranty supervisor called and asked for a walkthrough (the 5th walkthrough) which I agreed to while dealing with mold issues. I followed up this meeting with the home gallery commitment to wiring for the dining room chandelier. He ignored this email for five months until I got this response …
“I double checked our plans and there is no centered chandelier light fixture in the dining room. I copied a snip from the plans we used on your home. From our phone call on Tuesday you stated you were going to send a bill for the light fixture I am assuming you added there. We will not be responsible for that bill as the light was not on the original set of prints nor listed as an option.”
Responsibility for the Electrical Plan
Let me explain what the diagram above is all about. It was first given to me after the home gallery meeting and two days before my construction kickoff meeting. There were 3 pages of electrical plans, resized to fit on 8.5 x 14 inches which made them almost unreadable. With no experience reading plans like this, I was supposed to sign-off on them but why?
- Was I responsible for confirming my upgrades were properly documented in the builder's construction plans?
- Was I signing off on these and similar plan to protect Richmond from construction mistakes?
Most home buyers probably sign the builder's paperwork without reading it. I always read (ask questions and read again) before I sign. For example, the master bathroom specs had a list of tile names but no photos to show they were the tiles I'd selected. It took several emails over a month to get the photos and by then, I simply didn't sign off on any of the plans.
The new building superintendent now says 8 months after reporting the problem, that the dining room light isn't in the plans so they don't have to pay for the ceiling outlet and switch. My response is a Richmond American Homes gallery employee in an email, made a commitment and I expect it to be honored!