Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ryan Homes Electrical Issues and Advice

Didn't really drop off the map, just didn't have as much interesting stuff to share. But a response elsewhere prompted me to elaborate further on Electrical issues we had.. This post hopes to share our frustration and issues to help others avoid such problems. We know Ryan Homes are reading these posts, and we hope someone takes this customer feedback and incorporates it in creating better logical flow of the electrical layout and design process. Please understand that similar issues can be easily avoided early on and throughout if one understands the simple facts below...

Anyone building with Ryan Homes must take great interest in, and become very familiar with, electrical layouts and diagrams of their houses and request changes as needed, AND continuously check the implementation throughout the build process..

1. Ceiling Lights
There are many rooms that do not come with standard ceiling lights. Study your electrical maps and find out which rooms do not have a ceiling light or ceiling light rough in and add one, it is impossible to regret such a decision. You'll be happy every time you walk into a room and flip a switch and have instant light. Even if Ryan would argue that you have "switched outlets"..

2. Switched Outlets and Lamps/lights that you plug...
These are flipped (upside down) outlets with the top being controlled by a light switch on the wall, and the bottom being always active/live. This is how Ryan Homes expect you to have light in your house.. "Plugin light fixtures are so lovely!" they say, well, maybe, but what if you have kids who will be tripped by wires and will trip fixtures in their general roaming of the house? Also, not even 4 plugins will light a room like a single good smartly placed ceiling light.

AND electricians have zero common sense because outlets by code (at least where we are building) should be within 6 feet from the entrance of a room, and then spaced 12 feet apart, so that you are always within a maximum of 6 feet of an outlet. But this designation makes for very strangely placed outlets. Such as a switched outlet in the middle of a wall 20 feet long, where you'll definitely place a couch or a TV, and not a plugin light. So that outlet will become useless, or cumbersome to attach a light to if you have to use one.

Or, look at switched outlets in a bedroom, instead of having such outlet near a corner of a wall as to connect to a light on a night stand, nope, electricians will place that outlet smack in the middle of a wall, effectively killing usage of that outlet or making it dangerous to use especially if you have little kids and worry about them tripping over the wires or knocking lights down.. Obviously it would make too much sense to place that outlet near a corner..

Or if you add another switched outlet to a master bedroom, watch out to make sure the electricians don't place both so close together that they will be behind the bed posts or nightstands, forcing you to change the layout of your bedroom if you want to use those outlets.. And do yourself a favor and make sure the electricians didn't save you time and effort by linking the two outlets to a single switch, even though there is a dedicated switch for each light, but let's just control both lights with one switch and leave the other unused.. (True story x 2). 

Electricians may think that owners may obviously want to ALWAYS turn both lights on and off at the same time, because you and your soul-mate are so inseparable you do everything together at the same time.. (Being sarcastic). 

3. Let's Talk Switches
Even less common sense here. Of course at this point I am wondering if it is just our electricians who have questionable common sense, but the theme seems universal from what I read on other blogs.

Imagine opening a door and walking into a room.. Where would you expect to find the light switches? Certainly not BEHIND the door you just opened. Well, that's where it is in our master bedroom. It would make too much sense to place the switches out of the way of the open door, so you'd simply use them without having to close the door and hunt for the switches. 

Electricians may have been wanting to do us a favor by keeping the switches safe and protected and hidden behind the door.

Again, zero common sense. And when you try to argue with electricians after drywall, they say, "there is one switch that's visible of the four switches on the plate, so it's not REALLY behind the door." Really?

And then you have other strangely placed switches.. We have a light rough in over a kitchen island. It would make too much sense to put the switch for it at the entrance of the kitchen, so the electrician hid it in the deepest most corner of the kitchen over the counter top, where you literally have to reach far over the counter top to use it. Again, it would make too much sense to stop and think, "Hmmm, perhaps this is not a good place for this switch!"

4. Grouping Switches 
So if you have a set of switches serving a certain function (such as external flood lights), wouldn't it make sense to have them grouped together? Nope, obviously not, let's make sure to split them up into two groups.. Come on!

5. De-Grouping Switches
This is not against what I just said in 4, but just advice, if you have many switches in a room, do yourself a favor and have switches for switched outlets moved to a plate other than the one controlling ceiling lights and fan.. It becomes frustrating to enter a room and see an electrical panel of switches like those on the Starship Enterprise with 4-6 switches where you flip half the switches and nothing happens with most.. This issue can be avoided by requesting to group switches that control switched outlets on a separate plate than ceiling light an fan. Just a simple recommendation. Problem mostly observed in master bedroom and morning room, and wherever you add ceiling lights and fan rough ins and switched outlets.

6. One more thing about terminology
Words and terms are very important.. For example, while a switched outlet to Ryan Homes means an outlet with the bottom half always live/hot/active and top half switched on/off by a switch on the wall, the electrician may understand it as an outlet where both top/bottom sides are controlled by a single on/off switch, but the electrician will automatically follow Ryan Homes logic if outlet is in a bedroom..

So if you request a switched outlet on plant shelf by stairs landing (one always on to power a wireless speaker, and one switched for a night light, true story) guess which one the electrician will give you?

7. Fans anyone?
Make sure to add a ceiling fan rough-in to your bonus bedroom if you have one. You'll be very happy that you did, HVAC is always questionable in this room.. Also, if your SR or PM are smart enough (ours both are, thank you very much), they'll realize that the RH design for bonus bedroom includes BOTH recessed ceiling lights AND a ceiling light as standard, and will move the ceiling light if you wish to a room that doesn't have it, for free, or upgrade it to ceiling fan for a reduced price.

If you pay for extra GFCI outlets (more expensive than standard outlets, double or triple depending on location), make sure the electricians don't short change you and use one actual GFCI outlet and link standard outlets to it and have all be 'protected' by the main GFCI outelt. In this setup if any outlet trips, the main GFCI outlet trips and kills all of your linked 'protected' outlets. If the main GFCI dies for any reason (of which there are many), then all the linked outlets will die as well. But if the electricians actually used GFCI outlets in every GFCI outlet location they are supposed to, then only the one that tripped will die and the rest will remain alive.. Imagine a sprinkler system control unit in a garage and all other outlets linked to a single GFCI outlet and a the main GFCI outlet dies, that grass won't be getting any water, and those power tools won't have power, and that radio will remain mute.. Besides, you already paid double or more for GFCI, why short change you? True story, sadly..

9. Pre Drywall Meeting: Check, Check, Check Again
As the house goes up, look at where the outlets and switches and light rough-ins are, especially as soon as the electricians wire up the framed house, well before drywall. Verify that the outlets are where you expect them to be, and that the switches are what you requested, and that any ceiling lights or fans are where you expect them to be. Point out issues and have them fixed before drywall, because it is incredibly easy to correct anything electrical at that point, but afterwards you will get an insane amount of push back from electricians and Ryan Homes on changes, basically no one wants to tear up drywall and rerun wires, it costs money. 

Use the Pre-drywall meeting to inspect every electrical element of your house. You will be glad you did. We ended up with all the issues posted above at closing, even though we corrected many more while the house was still getting build. Had we not been involved and checking on things, we would have tens of issues instead what we ended up with..


  1. I could have so written almost all of this post word for word!! :)

    1. Very true, we are just sharing what we witnessed in our build, which many encounter in their own build. I have to thank you for your initial post about similar issues on your blog. My comment there as you know is what prompted me to expanded in much more detail here. So yes, you could have written this yourself and it would not have been much different! Sadly, right..

  2. Another tip about the rough-ins, at least for our neighborhood the difference between a ceiling light rough-in (one hole 1 switch) and the ceiling fan rough-in (one hole 2 switches) was $25. If there is even an inkling that you would want a ceiling fan in a room someday, spend the $25. The only downside if you use it for just a ceiling light is two switches that switch the same light side-by side, but you can also rewire at the switch wall to fix that.

  3. I actually noticed this on the electrical bueprints and asked. They said some outlets have switches for lights. I knew right away I would hate that. I already had placed a ceiling light in every room because I have lived in houses with no light.

    I asked Ryan Homes to remove all switches on outlets and make them all live. Their response, "no, they come standard" This really annoys me because I wont use them, and I hate that I will have a switch to confuse people and an outlet that I cant use.

    I'm thinking of asking them to wire my ceiling lights into the same switch and them rewire/replace the outlet with the live connection.

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