Let there be light

Electrical is one of the few easy areas to find pricing on. The team at Argus Electrical look after all the Pre-sales for the electrical works and are pretty open about the cost but man can it add up.


Dave and I both come from the Live Events Industry. I have a background in Electrical, Lighting, Audio-Visual Event Coordination and have now moved on to IT Sales. Dave spent his youth as a Live Sound Engineer, Production Manager and is now an Operations Manager. What this all boils down to is our house was never going to be a ‘Standard Inclusions’ house when it came to electrical. Ours will be one that you can stream music to any room to help keep the groove going as I clean all those bathrooms and hopefully have the neighbours oooing and arrring at our architecturally designed garden lighting.


Having given an outline of what we wanted to our Sales consultant, he budgeted $4,000 for electrical, Dave and I didn’t think this sounded right and later asked for it to be upped to $7,000. When we started gathering info we quickly knew that we didn’t have enough put aside and in our own spreadsheet up’ed it to $20k early on in the process.

In the end we came in at $18,097.36 (Downlights, power points, 3 phase etc) + $3,995.68 (Data, Sound & TV) + $1,395.24 (underfloor heating) = $23,488.28, a far cry from $4,000.



I always knew that one of the biggest problems I would face was getting all the information out of my brain and delivered over to the people taking down my order, without missing anything out.

Over the space of 3 months, I did up my electrical plans, this was so I could add and remove things like power points (not too many were ever removed) and play around with layout and functionality.

Power points

In the house we currently live in, there is no a power point in the hallway and man it is annoying to vacuum the common areas when you always have to drag out the extension cord every time.

As a rule of thumb, you receive one double power point per room included in the house. I added a few more and colour coded them so I knew what height they would be located at.

The standard heights are 300mm Above Floor Level (AFL) and 1100mm AFL but Argus will note on the plans whatever height you would like. Which is great as there were a couple of odd heights I wanted, like 1350mm in the pantry for my toaster and 2000mm for a TV in the guest room we wanted particularly high.


Things to remember

Powerpoint locations

Don’t forget about: Hallways, either side of double vanities, at the end of the kitchen island, either side of the bed – can the bedroom we turned around and the bed head run along the other wall? If so, accommodate for a third power point to allow for this new layout. Future lamp positions, power near future desks positions in bedrooms or games rooms. Heated towel rail locations. Alarm monitoring unit location. Under the bench in the kitchen for the wine fridge, above the bench in the laundry for the iron to plug into. Future spa connection, future air con unit. Do you have wall mounted TV’s? Then make sure the PowerPoint is around 1600mm AFL, not 300mm. Do they all need to be doubles or can some of them be single outlets?

And the big one… Christmas lights!  We have put a few outdoor power points in that are controlled by a switch in the garage, this means that I can turn on and off the Christmas lights without going outside. One under the 2nd story eaves, one under the portico and one down the side of the house by the fuse box. No more cables running through windows or ugly runs of extension cords snaking out of the garage.


We decided that we would do all the downlights throughout the house now, rather than leaving the upstairs as batton lights and upgrading them later. We have been into a few Forysths that are being built and seen that there is bugger all roof space left with a 22.5-degree roof pitch. Especially after all the ducts and vents are in, I cant see how someone can move around up there easily without disrupting or damaging things.

We also find it amusing to see so many houses for sale, where the upstairs has been left as batton lights with chinamen’s hats. It’s obvious that they intended to change them over to downlights but never got around to it or ran out of budget.


When working out the lighting, make sure you decide what your light groupings are and switch positions. Which groups do you want with two-way switching, do you want any rooms to have dimmers. Don’t forget to add a light switch by the master bedside table.

We have a motion sensor on the front porch for the portico light, coming home late and fumbling in the dark for the key is never fun.

Below is the plan I drew up in preparation for our meeting




We went into our Electrical appointment early, all of our choices were made and we spent the whole time transferring information off of my plans and onto theirs, even so, we went over time and worked through lunch, only stopping because our kitchen appointment in the afternoon was ready for us. We left our wonderful Argus Electrical lady with the rest of our requirements and she finished off entering it all in and tiding up the plans.

And here is what it looks like, all pretty.

They have the type of floor plan software, where when you select a symbol, it adds the line item and cost to the spreadsheet. so in the appointment, you spend the time looking at the plan and adding things visually.

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Data Cabling

If we were allowed to run the cables ourselves we would have and also put a couple of hundred more metres into the house. However, PD doesn’t let you and their cable cost are rather on the high side. If we could have, we would have used different cables for the speaker control. However, as its a closed building site, Cat 6 cabling was really our only option. We will be utilising some excellent distributors and receivers and the main patch panel and control systems will live in the garage, giving us future proofing and flexibility for each room in the house.




As Dave is still in the Audio- Visual industry and I am in the IT industry, we can buy most of the equipment at wholesale rates and install it ourselves. Things like projectors, rack units, splitters and access points are all daily inventory for us.


An example of this is projectors, we skipped the projector provisioning and domestic PJ unit Argus offered and opted to run a cat 6 cable and powerpoint instead. We worked out the projector lens throw distance for the screen size we will install and had the plan marked up accordingly so the power point will be in the correct location on the ceiling. We will install a motorised screen that will be hidden inside a flush mount ceiling box and attach the projector and bracket ourselves.


As for the audio

Each room can be controlled separately or linked. We will be using the Yamaha MusicCast system. All amps will be located in the garage and the signal distributed out from there.

This means I can soak in the tub and listen to whale songs while the boys are watching the game downstairs on the projector and 5.1 surround sound and upstairs in the games room the kids can be watching movies, all controlled off the app on our phones.  Which also means when the kid’s TV get to load, I can turn it down without leaving my happy place.


Bathrooms and smaller bedrooms will receive a wireless speaker that will use MusicCast as well, they are portable so can move around the house as needed.



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TV Points

Because we are doing AirBNB and have so many bedrooms, we have opted to have a TV point in each bedroom, except Bedroom 4 which will be the baby room and has no suitable walls to house a TV. We will also have an Apple TV connected to each bedroom TV, later this may change to smart TV’s which we have provisioned for. However, for now, this will allow guests to connect to TV shows and Youtube etc from the comfort of their bedrooms.

This all connects via the aerial splitter in the garage, that has free to air connected and via modulators, Fetch/Foxtel and another Apple TV. Infra-red sensors will be located in the Lounge and Master bedroom to control the 2nd Apple TV and Fetch box.


PD offers a really ugly and surprisingly expensive doorbell option. We like the RING doorbell and currently use it but would like it hardwired into the new home.

We couldn’t get PD to install a standard 12v cable run from the garage to the front door for us to power it and instead have opted for another Cat6 cable run which we will use to power the doorbell.

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Below is a list of the prices for all the equipment Argus Electrical and Porter Davis are putting into our house. Hopefully, this will help others with 99% of their pricing needs and they can budget correctly and not be lead astray with a Sales Consultant only budgeting $4k when it really should be $20k.


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The below sheet is priced up a little odd, the far right column totalling at the bottom is the builder’s inclusions but the Variations and unit costs total to the top $18k.

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13 thoughts on “Let there be light

Add yours

  1. Danielle: So much valuable information Charlotte. 🙌🏻Yours is the best PD blog I have read.
    Can I ask about the aerial splitter? We would have foxtel & Telstra TV in our family area but would like the option of these to be watched on the alfresco & bedroom TV. So you add an aerial splitter to do this? What us the cost of that? Thanks.

    Charlotte: The aerial splitter only sends the same TV signal to each telly.
    To allow Foxtel to do this you need to use a modulator which will allow the Foxtel signal to appear on all the TV’s as a separate channel, ie TV 7, 9, 10 and Foxel. However in doing this, all the TV’s watching the Foxtel channel will have the same image and if one person changes the Foxtel program, then all the TV’s watching this will also change.
    Think old school motels when you could watch a movie at acetin time and that movie played throughout all of the motel’s rooms.
    This is fine for us as we will hold the Foxtel remote and determine the channel/program watched, not the kids in the other rooms.

    Sorry not sure what Telstra TV is as I’m new to AUS and kiwis don’t have it, but if it’s just like Foxtel then you just need a 2nd modulator for it. If its like standard TV and everyone in the house can watch a different TV channel at the same time, then it just connects directly into your antenna splitter.

    To have the ability to change the Foxtel channel when the box is not in the same room as you, you need to have an Infra-red (IR) sensor by the TV and the repeater by the Foxtel box.

    The Aerial splitter that PD offers just sends TV signal. The one we will get (and has a link below) also has the ability to have modulators as inputs and also allows for IR signal transmission between the rooms.

    The costs … check out Radio parts
    Aerial Splitter
    IR sensors
    IR Repeaters


  2. Can I ask why you didn’t take the NBN preparation pack instead of the basic pack?
    The only difference appears to be the inclusion of 3 data points which is cheaper to get separate?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi John, Dave was over all of this so I hope I am getting the answer right – its because NBN was included in our devloper covernance, and part of our House and land package so we did not need to pay for that part. and we did not want the small router that came in the bundle as we have our own larger router/switc​​h. Let me know if that answered your question – if not I get Dave to connect with you 🙂


      1. Hi Charly
        I should have thanked you firstly for writing the most detailed building blog I have come across. It has helped us a lot already!
        I’m talking about the difference between the NBNCo basic fibre pack ($983.98) and NBNCo preparation pack ($437.57) in the spreadsheet above. It suggests you have chosen the basic pack?
        The descriptions suggest that the only difference are the 3 data point (everything else is the same in the description). However if you would add 3 data points separately to the Preparation pack you would be cheaper off than the Basic pack, so I’m wondering if there is something else that is different between the two. Or maybe this is another evidence of PDs random pricing processes…..
        I asked the girl at WoS last weekend but she was completely clueless about anything data related. I may have to wait for our appointment days to get an answer from PD


      2. Hi John B
        This is Dave here, responding to your query. It’s been a long time since making these decisions, so I’m a little unsure of my reasons for the choice.
        On face value the simple answer could be that I didn’t notice the cheaper option at the time.
        My focus was on removing the basic pack with enclosure @ $1489.83 (included in our costs under developer convenience), as I did not want a huge enclosure in our garage, as we will be having not only the data returning to this location but also the speaker wiring and all TV RF. And also some of the data will be used for HDMI over Cat6 (cheaper by far compared to PD’s exorbitant price for an HDMI cable run)
        I must not have seen that the Preparation pack would have been the cheaper way to go. Could have saved us $171.38, which I could have used to install another cat6 run and still had change.

        Although, having just written this and then re-read the description on the Preparation pack, the very last 3 words would concern me. ‘Underground’s not included’
        This may mean that they will only run the conduit from the outside of your house to the location in your garage, but not from the NBN location on the street to your house, meaning you will have additional cost when your ISP connects you after handover.
        I can tell you that our install does include the second conduit from the street to the side of the house.


  3. Is the Indoor surround sound speaker pack with 5 Jamo speakers reasonable speakers? It seems fairly reasonably priced if I want to add some speakers to keep the area for watching TV’s and movies minimalist


  4. Oh my gosh! I became lost after Power points 🙂

    I’ve been told to future proof for smart home, electric Car chargers, additional solar panels etc (ie install conduits from the roof to garage, conduits to either side of garage for future charging ports etc ) but Most of this is complete gibberish to me!! Do you think they help at the electrical appointment or do you have a recommendation of a specialist who could talk us through this stuff? I’m feeling clueless!!!


    1. If you haven’t already done your appointment, I’m happy to sit down with you beforehand and go through your plans with you and make suggestions and recommendations.


    2. You may be lucky with conduit, I was certainly not. I did put in some drawstrings for extra CCTV cameras, but have yet to use them. But I really did want either a prewire for Solar panels, but in the end I was unable to get either that or conduit, but drawstrings. I decided to leave it as I think the solar installers will be able to get close to the ideal spot I would have originally liked.


  5. Hello Dave and Charlotte. Your blog is really helpful .. It contains a wealth of information .. Thank you.. We are building with PD, just about to finalise our plans which include a theatre . We have no expertise in the Audio visual area and do not know how to wire our home for data and voice to achieve the best outcomes. We are looking for some guidance. Would you be able to point us in the right direction..


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