In custom home building over the past several years, there has been a trend toward increased use of exterior/ landscape lighting. This trend has grown for two basic reasons.
First, the popularity of outdoor entertaining, long enjoyed in the western states, has gradually but steadily moved eastward. The need for functional lighting as well as the desire to light special areas has followed. Considering the cost and the intricacy of the landscaping itself, it only makes sense that the beautifully landscaped grounds should be visible at night as well as during the day. Likewise, accent lighting enhances pools, decks, patios, conversation areas, pathways, and dining spaces, and unites the indoor and outdoor entertaining areas.
The second trend, a more somber one, is the increasing need to provide better security against rising crime and vandalism in most metropolitan areas. The security systems that protect the inside of the home against intrusion can be extended to the boundaries of the property by providing adequate lighting systems with sophisticated controls that allow the homeowner to manage the property at night while on or off the grounds. These systems also fit into the surroundings so that the property appearance is not adversely affected.
Key to incorporating lighting into the exterior of a new custom home is to plan early. Even though the actual installation is as the end of the building phase, the layout and wiring for the anticipated lighting should be done in the concept stage to reduce the cost of reworking the grounds and to fit smoothly into the normal construction schedule. Trained lighting professionals can construct landscape layouts for electrical wiring, recommend fixtures to be used in the lighting plan, and prepare cost estimates so the property owner can manage the construction costs as the total building budget is being prepared.
Working with the architect, builder, and electrical contractor, lighting design professionals will ensure that the lighting layout details location of fixtures, that all wiring is included that is necessary to accommodate the fixtures, that modifications to decks/patios or other physical parts of the property are completed, and that the installation of fixtures with complete aiming/lamping is accomplished to the owners’ satisfaction.
You may ask why it is necessary to have lighting consultants to help plan landscape lighting. Light is light and exterior light fixtures are common. So what’s the big deal? The answer is as simple as the question. Light is not just light but a blend of fixture types and the associated light out-put is highly sophisticated and technical in nature. There are hundreds of fixture types that are designed by manufacturers that do specific jobs to create the best result. There are line voltage and low voltage fixtures. There are incandescent, halogen and high sodium light outputs. There are simple fixtures and complicated fixtures. There are functional and decorative fixtures. There are complicated control systems to then manage the fixtures. Therefore, the lighting professional serves as the property owner’s source of information to select the proper fixtures and light sources to do the best job within the prescribed budget, and to make certain the building plan is met on time.
A well thought-out, well developed, and well executed exterior lighting plan can add value to your property and add the sense of security which is growing in importance in recent years.