Illustration of Electrical System and Wiring
Illustration: Ian Worpole
Whenever we flip a switch, plug in an appliance, or adjust a reading light, we interact with the electrical system in a house. A good electrician can make those interactions easier in a hundred little ways, so it's best to communicate your needs early—ideally after the house is framed and before the drywall or insulation goes up.

That's when master electrician Allen Gallant, who has wired many This Old House TV projects, takes his customers on a job-site walk-through, showing where he plans to put switches, lights, and receptacles. "I'll even ask them if they're left-handed or right-handed," he says. "It makes a big difference when you're looking for the light switch." It's easy to make changes at this point in the process, but once the walls are closed in, any second thoughts become far more difficult and expensive to implement.

Once Gallant starts wiring a house, virtually every aspect of his work is controlled by codes, both local and national. These codes are the final word on safe installation practices. Gallant is meticulous in adhering to them, yet he often goes a step further to make his electrical systems even safer and easier to use. On the following pages, you'll see the basics of wiring a house to meet code, along with a look at Gallant's extras.

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