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How to Install Rough Electricity in New Construction

Ask This Old House master electrician Scott Caron helps a homeowner wire her new basement that she’s in the process of turning into finished space

Installing rough electricity

  1. Running new electrical work usually requires a building permit. Consult with your local building department for more information.
  2. Electrical boxes should be mounted 18” to center off the floor for outlets. Secure the nails in the boxes directly to the studs.
  3. Code requires that from any point on the wall, an outlet should be within 6 feet. This is the minimum requirement.
  4. Drill a hole in the center of every stud for running wire.
  5. Unroll the 14-gauge cable to flatten it, then feed it through the holes in the studs. Run enough wire to reach each box and have some extra slack for working.
  6. Attach the cable within 6” of the box using a cable staple.
  7. Strip 8” of sheathing off the wire and feed it into the box.
  8. In boxes with multiple conductors, splice the bare ground wires together and cap with a green wire nut, leaving one bare wire exposed.
  9. Mount an electrical box at 48” to center from the floor for a light switch.
  10. Run a wire from the outlet, through the switch box, to the first light fixture. From there, connect the other fixtures with wire.
  11. Attach the wires for the lights to ceiling joists with a cable staple.
  12. Connect the wires to the light fixtures.
  13. Secure the light fixtures in place.
  14. Tie the feed wire from the closest outlet to the circuit panel. Ensure power is off at the main shutoff. Many new rooms require the use of an arc fault circuit breaker. Tape over the new breaker to ensure the circuit isn’t turned on accidentally before final electrical is in place.
  15. Have a local inspector sign off on the electrical work before covering in drywall.


All materials used for this project, including outlet boxes, non-metallic wire, staples, AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breaker, recessed fixture housing and switches, can be found at the local home center or the local electrical supply center.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by Caron Electric.