Household Management

What every household manager should know about electrical & lighting home systems

Understanding electrical and lighting systems can help you reduce risk and keep a property in excellent condition — but you don’t have to be an expert. Here are some basics everyone managing a luxury home should know.

By Kristin Twiford

Let’s say you manage a luxury home, with commercial grade home systems, smart home technology, and top of the line lighting and fixtures — and it gets struck by lightning. Would you know what to do, how to measure the damage, or the best way to troubleshoot with your electrician? 

Whether you’re overseeing a new build or running a historic estate, everyone managing a luxury property should have a basic understanding of electrical systems. 

“Almost everything on the property or estate relates to electrical in some shape or form,” explains seasoned estate manager Shelby Boudreau. “It’s the one system that spider webs to every single aspect of the property.” 

It’s also the system that carries the most risk if something goes wrong — if there’s a problem in one electrical line in your home, it has the ability to go out to everything that connects to that point, from TVs to security systems.  

But here’s the good news: you don’t have to be a trained electrician to understand the basics.  

Check out our intensive workshop on electrical and lighting home systems, and keep reading to learn 3 things every estate manager should know below. 

1. The basics of how power works on a property 

Do you understand how power moves from the street to every aspect of your property? Having a basic understanding of the chain of electricity and common terminology allows you to troubleshoot problems and communicate with experts.  

Knowing the basics — and having a clear understanding of a property’s specific systems — allows you to navigate conversations with a wide array of vendors, like a home automation company, a generator services provider, a utility company, a plumber who’s installing a pump that needs power, etc. Because electrical touches every aspect of a property, having a strong foundation in this one area gives you a boost in every other aspect of household management. 

2. What vendors need from you 

Understanding your vendors’ needs not only empowers you to navigate conversations and negotiations, but also helps you build a stronger relationship. 

Ask your electrical vendors: How can I help you? What do you need from me? 

Shelby says a great example is lighting.  

“Lighting is such a mood enhancer, and so for a lot of us, we’re working at second and third homes and they’re trying to create a specific environment,” she says. “If the color is off, it can affect the principals’ whole visit.” 

It’s easy to assume the electrician will know exactly how to light the trees, a walkway, a library or an office — but these elements are actually all part of the principal’s vision for the home, and it’s up to the household manager to translate that into a practical plan.  

“Oftentimes, we’re the in between, making sure that what they’re doing is more than just installing lights, it’s creating a mood,” explains Shelby. “Electricians don’t want to be involved in the decisions, they just want to get it done.” 

3. Where your electrical lines are 

Electrical is either buried on the property or closed behind walls, and there are many different ways to come to the same conclusion. Without a clear understanding of where lines are, you can get stuck with time-consuming, costly guess work if something goes wrong. 

“Your best chance of knowing where things are is having an as built that you create when you have your eyes on everything,” says Shelby. 

As builts are detailed drawings that give you a blueprint with measurements and records of where everything is on a property — including what’s buried in the yard or hidden in the walls.  

Having a comprehensive map of everything on your property allows you to save time and reduce disruption when something needs to be fixed. 

Learn more about electrical and lighting systems 

In our on-demand workshop on electrical and lighting, Shelby digs into the basics of electrical and lighting systems, so you can walk away with the insider knowledge and foundational understanding you need to manage projects and earn the trust of the experts around you.  

Check it out to learn: 

  • The basics of electrical systems, with a breakdown of how power moves from the source to every aspect of a property 
  • Common elements and key terminology around electrical and lighting 
  • How to create as builts for a property’s electrical and lighting systems, with example walkthroughs 
  • Tips and tricks for troubleshooting and working with vendors 
  • … and more! 

We hope to see you there! Plus, check out the rest of our Nines Household Management Workshops, covering housekeeping, maintenance and home systems. 

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