Electrical Planning – Do You Need 3 Phase Power?

3 phase power is used for heavy duty electrical appliances.

So what is 3 phase power?……………….When power is generated at the power station it comes out as Alternating Current (AC) in three separate phases which are transmitted via individual cables. When power is required the three phases can be combined (3 Phase) or separated(Single Phase).

A Typical House

Most houses only have single phase power.

All the typical electrical equipment in your house such as TV, fridges, freezers lights rub on single phase.power.

Reasons for 3 Phase

The only time a domestic house will need three phase power supply is likely to be:

  • If you have a really big house with a large capacity air conditioner.
  • If you want to have an Electrical Instantaneous Water Heater.
  • If you are want are a DIY enthusiast and want to run a commercial size arc welder (Single Phase power should be OK for 275 Amps which is enough for 10mm steel.)

For a new house on a farm where you want to run farm machinery it may be a different matter.

What happens with 3 Phase

If 3 phase was run to your house and you didn’t need actually need it, it simply means that your single phase circuits (power points, lights, oven) would be shared out over the 3 phases as evenly as possible.

What this can mean if their is a power failure that only affects one phase you will still have some power.

For a large house this might be the way to go, but it should not be considered as totally necessary, especially as it will cost substantially more.


If you think you might need 3 phase power I would suggest you contact an electrical contractor and have a chat with them.

For more Posts see the Electrical Category


More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


What Are Window Infills

What Are Window Infills?

Well these painted panels above the top of the window in this photo are an example.

This example is not very attractive in my opinion

Finishing up with painted infills like this is often a consequence of not having eaves and/or increasing ceiling height without considering window size (an easy thing to miss if you are building for the first time)

if you don’t like them make sure you check the builders elevation drawings carefully.

Why are they used?

Basically these are much cheaper for the builder than a brick infill as they save both the cost of a lintel and the brickwork.

They also make the construction of the required brick articulation joints for the builder simpler (see Brick Articulation Joints )


  1. They can look better if you make them a feature. I once designed a house with painted infills at each gable end of the house. My solution was to use overlapping planks (painted cement sheets) rather than a single panel, and was quite pleased with the look.This  approach could be used if you only realises you have infills late in the building process as you could nail them directly over the existing board.
  2. Another approach particularly for North facing windows is have a small pergola set under the gutter this provides shade and makes the infill less obvious. (see Shading for dimensions of a pergola)



Back Door

Most people spend a lot of time thinking about their front door. . . . . but forget about their back door.

There seems to be a bit of a convention for back doors.

Conventional Doors

Quite often if a conventional door is used usually have a half window and usually only have a single simple lock.

Unfortunately criminals know that an easy way to break in is to break the small window, reach in, and unlock the door.

It’s not as though you really need the window as most back doors are in the laundry which isn’t a room you spend a lot of time in, and it usually has a window.

My preferred approach is a solid back door with two locks fitted at least 300mm apart.

One a deadlock, as I am always a bit suspicious about Construction Locks

Not only is this more secure, and offers better insulation but its likely to be slightly cheaper. Also you can always put a couple of coat hooks on the back of the door to hang your gardening clothes.

As you can see from this photo of a previous back2 door I specified the double locks but didn’t think to specify ‘no window’.

My latest houseI is a plain door!

Full Length Sliding Glass Doors

When looking at a display home you might find the builder uses ‘Patio Doors’ for the laundry.

I think these should be avoided.

My suggestion is you should ask for a solid hinged door!


More on doors including 24 pages of Check Lists for your new house choices in the‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Plumbing – Kitchen and Laundry

Make sure you have thought about all the following plumbing fittings:


There are a wide range of sinks the choice is a lot wider than one basin or two so you need to spend some time looking at various options.

Similarly there a wide range of mixers.

Boiled /Chilled Water Service used to be an office fitting but they are becoming more common in homes. (I think they can waste a fair bit of energy and are a scalding safety riskn so I can’t recomend them myself).

Dishwasher are normally installed as cold fill but there are some hot and cold fill machines around or you can just use the hot water.

If you like refrigerators with a chilled water you will need a water supply to the refridgerator location..

Butlers Pantry

In many larger houses a Butlers Pantry is included rather than a simple larder.

This is somewhere where the messy part of food preparation can be done when you are entertaining.

Depending on how much room you have these can be almost second kitchens so they may need a similar range of plumbing fittings


Do you really want a laundry trough?…….. why not have a standard sink basin?

If you go for a trough why not think about a smaller size.

Whatever your choice you will need either a mixer or taps.

Washing machine – although you may only have a cold fill machine its always worth getting a hot water service installed.

People that do a lot of gardening like a toilet with wash basin off the laundry to avoid them going through the house with dirty boots.

Roof Water / Recycled Water

With roof water tanks and recycled water becoming more common in suburban properties you need to think about where you will use this supply, which has to be kept separate from the mains supply.

Will it be toilets only? or are you going to use it for the laundry?

Its simpler if you live on a rural block because it will be all roof water!…………. If so I would seriously think about a domestic water filter, although I wouldn’t bother for a suburban house with mains water.


My son is a concretor and I work for a drainage company so my wife prefers to wash our overalls in an old washing machine on the back veranda and keep the newer washing machine for her clothes and our non work outfits.


For similar posts see Plumbing

More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists

in the ‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Good and Bad Mirror

Here is the bathroom mirror from a recent hotel stay:

The ‘Good‘ is it looks spectacular and the way is illuminates your face, using LEDs behind the mirror gives a very even light.

The Bad is that it projects forward a long way from the wall, and the wash basin is quite small.

As a result it makes it very difficult to wash your face. . . as soon as you bend over the basin to rinse the soap your head hits the mirror!

It’s a problem I have seen before, especially when someone puts a mirrored medicine cabinet over the sink.

Unless you are going to mount a mirro directly on the wall its best to make sure you get a larger basin!


Electrical Planning – General

Do some of your power sockets look like this photo?

Next time you visit a show house have a look at the power point provision……… You would think most builders are still living in the 1950’s.

Typically you get a couple of double sockets in each room. . . . Sometimes you even see single sockets.

Thats because hardly any of the display home fittings need to work!

They do spend a bit more time on the light fittings, typically with down-light’s everywhere. (Not my favorite form of lighting. I’ve had them once and I won’t be having them again.)

However the down-lights are unlikely to be in the builders standard provision so if you do want them they will add significantly to the base cost.

In our first house, 30 years ago, when we renovated we had at least six double sockets in each of the lounge, main bedroom and kitchen. It seemed a lot when we put them in but most of them were used.

For the last two houses we have practically doubled the power point provision to make it easier to find a vacant power socket when you need it. . . . and avoid having extension cords around the house.

You will find a number of posts on Electrical Planning which provide some thoughts for planning each of the main rooms in the house.

These will help you think about what electrical work you will require when building a new house, and help you prepare for the Selection Meeting.

Although you will have gathered I am keen on upgrading the electrical provision its worth remembering each additional double socket will cost around $75. We had an extra 22 at our last house so make sure you don’t bust your budget!

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

Wood For Heating – Why A Wood Heater Is Better Than An Open Fire

Although wood heating is banned in many urban areas they are still allowed in most country properties

A lot of people think that an open fire gives a better ambiance than a wood heater . . . but I much prefer a woodheater

Here’s why:

  • A wood heater is much more efficient which means you will burn much less wood. As well as greenhouse gas savings that means less cost, or less effort gathering wood.
  • One of the problems of any heater that warms the room by burning is that it needs a source of fresh air to achieve combustion……..this means drafts. The efficiency of the wood heater means that less air is required, so less drafts. Remember the fresh air is cold air sucked into the house by the burning.
  • Control of a wood heater is very effective so you can quickly turn it up or down. This means in winter we usually kept the heater alight from June to the end of August which saves a lot of fire lighting.
  • A fully loaded wood stove if turned down can burn for over 8 hours, unlike an open fire which will need more fuel every couple of hours . Great if you are going to be out all day and want a warm home to come home to.
  • The efficiency and effectiveness of the combustion in a room heater means that removal of ash is much less frequent, typically every couple of weeks.
  • No smoke around the house……especially when trying to light the fire.
  • Much less ash dust floating around the house.

A well designed wood heater with a large window will also give you a good view of those flames anyway.

The following link is to a page on the efficiency of various wood heaters that are available in Australia: Home Heat 

More Heating thoughts and 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’


Electrical Planning – Living Rooms / Rumpus Room

Living Room, Family Room, Rumpus Room………….some houses have one room for all functions.

Bigger houses can have three separate rooms, perhaps even a Parents Retreat!.

As far as electrical planning is concerned the issues are really the same.


Some of the things to allow power for are;

  • TV,
  • Sound system,
  • Foxtel (if you are connected),
  • PC (for streaming)
  • Gaming Console.
  • NBN Box
  • Wireless Modem

To minimise the cable tangle I prefer to use a power board to the shelves or cabinet rather than plug each device separately into the wall.

With some surround system sub-woofers and rear speakers get a wireless signal or transmit through the mains rather than running speaker cables. . . If that’s the case you will need extra power sockets at the back of the room.

Wall Hung TV

If you want a wall mounted TV it is going to be much neater if you have a power socket on the wall behind the TV.

Its most likely that things like your DVD player, Foxtel, Surround Sound, etc will be in a cabinet or shelves on the floor.

You should definitely think about either getting cables pre-installed behind the plaster or at least some conduits for future installation of the cables………..The best outlet height is going to be about 1200mm above the floor as the most comfortable viewing position is straight ahead when you are sitting down.


In addition to the entertainment options you should allow for some spare power outlets for things like:

  • Table or floor lamps
  • Power to gas heater or a fan heater for days when you don’t want to run the full heating system
  • Mobile phone charger
  • Laptop charger(s)
  • Doing the ironing while watching TV
  • Point for the Vacuum Cleaner

I would never put less than four double power sockets in a living room with five or six being preferred.


For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

Plumbing – Bathrooms and Toilets

Everyone has an opinion about Toilets and Bathrooms even if they aren’t too bothered about other rooms. (I used to be involved in Airport Design. At project meetings million dollar concrete decisions used to take less than 5 minutes but when it came to a few thousand dollars for the toilets it was at least 30 minutes per meeting as everyone wanted their say)

Having said that here’s my opinions:………


After the kitchens the bathrooms are usually the next most expensive rooms.

Its worth thinking carefully about the cost of fittings as you may find very similar fitting to those you ‘Love’ at half the price.

White fittings don’t date, and are easier to match if you want to choose units from different ranges.

A floor drain is a definite for me, convenient if you have young children who like to splash in the bath and a good safeguard if you get a leak.


Shower – I think the days of shower trays are long gone. Having a walk in shower means you can have a larger shower, much better than the minimum size.

Wash basins I have previously posted about One Basin or Two so the only other comment is “Think carefully about what basins and mixers you need, it can add a thousand dollars or more to the cost.”

Toilets Lot of choice but look at the prices before you pick. I have seen similar looking toilets with a $500 price difference

Bidet? Well I have never had one but if you like the idea why not. A possible cheaper alternative may be one of those Japanese devices that fit on the toilet.


The differences between this and the En-suite are:

Bath We have always had a bath as I occasionally enjoy having a soak, and they are good for bathing children. If you are planning on getting a spa bath you are probably going to need a larger hot water service!

Shower I’m not a big fan of over the bath showers, getting in and out can be difficult, particularly for elderly visitors, so I would always go for the separate shower.

Toilet I don’t mind having the toilet in the bathroom but you may have different ideas.Do you need a separate toilet?

Washbasin – To my mind there is not much point in having a separate toilet unless it has a washbasin. If you don’t you still need to use the bathroom to wash your hands. I have known large families particularly with lots of girls to have a full vanity unit in the separate toilet, or even in an alcove near the bathroom.


More plumbing information and 24 pages of Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’

Electrical Planning – Bedrooms 2, 3, 4

Secondary bedrooms are usually considered less important that the main bedrooms but that doesn’t mean that the electrical planning doesn’t need to be considered.

You need to think about the different possible occupiers of the room over a wide range of years.

It might start out as a guest bedroom, or nursery. . .  but may finish up as the live at home bedroom of one of those SKIPPERS (Single Kids In Parents Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings)

Perhaps you don’t want to make it too comfortable for those young adults!

Our spare bedroom is set up as a sewing room, and has our printer.

Here are a few thoughts for planning:

  • Next to bed, power sockets for radio alarm, phone charger, electric blanket, bedside light, on both sides.
  • Desk location, power sockets for computer, desk light, printer.
  • Other locations, power for TV, DVD player, stereo, game console, and phone charger.
  • Don’t forget the hair dryer.
  • Other cabling may include a TV Aerial Socket and possibly a data connection.

As the use of the room changes sockets may be in the wrong positions so you can’t plan exactly.

My recommendation would be to go for a minimum of four double sockets. One close to each corner.

What does your teenager have that I’ve forgotten?

For similar posts see Electrical

More Electrical Planning including Check Lists in the

‘Selection / Pre-Start Guide’