How much does it cost for top end lighting, electrical and sound in New Zealand?

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ARTICLE Libby Schultz

Imagine having a home that ‘greets’ you when you arrive home… automatically unlocking the door, while switching your preferred lights, heating and music. Those are just some of the many little luxuries you’ll enjoy with a technology-connected home.

How much does high-end electrical cost?

If you have a larger-sized home - or one with extensive electrical systems - your core electrical costs will increase accordingly.

Jim Gleeson says most high-end homes will have three-phase power (see previous article for explanation), which can add up to $10,000 to the budget.

Larger homes also require more materials and labour for cabling. If your house has a high stud of 3 metres or more, that can add around a 10% premium.

“The other area where budget moves to another level is the lighting,” says Jim Gleeson.

“Designer lighting can cost anything from several hundred dollars for a single wall light, up to many thousands for a custom-built chandelier.”

The home-owner will usually engage a lighting designer, who will advise on style and complete a lighting plan. (If the designer works for a lighting retailer, their cost is usually redeemable on product).

Want to take your downlights to the next level? Refresh Renovation home renovation consultant Wayne Gordon recommends Phillips Halo LED downlights.  They combine a standard central LED dimmable downlight with an outer ring of light, which can be used independently as a night light or to create mood. They cost around $200 per light for the unit, installation and wiring.

Designer, custom built crystal chandlier with gold framework.

What is smart wiring?

‘Smart wiring’ is the next-generation of wiring that integrates the different types of wires used throughout a home into a single platform. It can encompass the many different types of wires used for lighting, security, internet, and AV and home entertainment.
 
The benefits are that your wiring becomes accessible – so you won’t have to rip apart your walls to retrofit new devices. It’s also easy to expand to meet your future needs.

The good news is: you can install smart wiring on a basic or mid-range budget; with a simple installation costing as little as $2,000. Matt Slater says it’s the way of the future.

“I’d suggest the smart wiring backbone is becoming a standard requirement now. It’s almost as common to see a data panel as it is a switchboard.”

For high-end homes, smart wiring gets bigger and more complex; as it accommodates more extensive systems and sophisticated devices. A high-end installation can cost in the vicinity of $30,000.

What should I consider with high-end electrical?

With so much being installed in your home, you’ll need somewhere to house all the back-end electrical gear.  This usually requires a full height cupboard, says Jim Gleeson, preferably located close to the home theatre room.

“You should brief your designer or architect at the outset, so they can create space for custom-made cabinetry. Size-wise, you’ll need something about 1.8m high and 700cm wide, with appropriate ventilation.”

You’ll also need a second space to house the electrical panels that go on the wall. Somewhere central in the house is usually most cost-effective.

With all the ugly hardware out of sight, the only things on display will be touch-screen remotes and keypads, programmed for each room in the house.

“So at one touch of a button, you can turn on Sky, or play music, and everything will be pre-programmed for that room.”

Home keypad system

How can I automate my home?

When it comes to home automation, there are a range of different systems to suit most budgets.  They usually encompass a range of services; including audio-visual, lighting, climate control, and security. For high-end projects, EAV Ltd uses either the Control4 or Crestron systems.

Sophisticated home automation systems like these will coordinate all the devices in your home to create your desired environment. For instance, you can pre-programme moods such as “entertaining”, or “family dinnertime”. With the push of a button, it instantly creates your preferred lighting, music, audio and heating in that part of the house.

“You don’t need to go around turning on light switches, adjusting the heat pump, or fiddling with TV remotes,” says Jim Gleeson.

As well as the convenience, home automation can also mean a more energy-efficient home.  You can programme your lights to shut off automatically in an unoccupied room, for instance, or your window shades to lower during the hottest hours of the day. Outdoor services such as lighting, spa pools, and sprinkler systems can also be incorporated in the system.

What's new in home entertainment?

In high-end renovations, says Jim Gleeson, the home-owner will often choose to have multiple wall-mounted LED televisions throughout the house.

Or, for a dedicated home theatre, the AV components can cost anywhere between $5,000 to $100,000+.

If you’re looking at a screen-size of up to 75 inches, Jim Gleeson recommends an Ultra HD 4K resolution TV, with multiple inputs and Internet connection for movie streaming. These cost up to $10,000; or around $3,000 for the 60-inch equivalent.

If you want to super-size your screen, modern projectors now offer very good screen quality in sizes between 90 to 150 inches.

For a smaller size room, you’d typically choose a 5.1 to 5.2 surround sound system. (That’s five speakers and 1 or 2 sub-woofers). The next step up is 7.1 or 7.2. The ultimate option for a large home theatre is a whopping 9.2 system.

Top end home theatre room with latest flatscreen television and state of the art surround sound.

Example Renovations

To sum up, you could potentially spend hundreds of thousands on a full-scale electrical, automation and AV installation.

One of EAV’s recent projects in Auckland was a renovation with a budget of around $150,000. The $50,000 electrical cost included a new 3-phase underground mains supply; and all associated power, lighting and wiring (excluding the light fittings).

A further $90,000 was allocated to AV and automation. Highlights include eight zones of audio inside and out (with speakers in the kitchen, outdoor dining area, and even the ensuite); a dedicated media room with full-height AV rack; and centralised control of the AV, security, lighting, heating and blinds (via Control4).

Another $30,000 was invested in the ultimate man cave, with a second 5.1 home theatre system and 70-inch test-match TV. Also linked via Control4, the man-cave has an independent security system, and an additional zone of audio for the alfresco outdoor bar. Not everything is automated, though…you still need to pour your own beer on tap!

If this top end lighting, electrical and sound renovation is what you’re striving for but your budget doesn’t allow for it just yet, read our basic and mid-range project estimates for costs on laying down the groundwork for your top end home.

 
Note: prices are rough approximations only, and Renovate Magazine or Refresh Renovations cannot be held accountable for their accuracy. All prices in this article are exclusive of installation costs and any variations.
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This project estimate article featured in Issue 018 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
 

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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