livingreen2013

Lighting budget for your build?

livingreen2013
7 years ago

Was curious what others had in terms of lighting budgets, if any? We are building a 4100 square foot home and were given a budget of $3500. We have picked out or purchased all but the bathroom fixtures (pot/recess lighting not included in budget) out of pocket and are looking to have already spent $6700. I don't feel like we've gone too crazy with things, but was wondering if any of you did the same with your lights or if our starting number was just low? Thanks!

Comments (44)

  • lzhwong
    7 years ago

    I think that starting number is just low. My allowance was $7500 (not including recessed lighting) for a 5100 sq ft house. That number is a tad low for us and my choices are pretty economical. I plan on installing lights in certain rooms (dining room, guest room, etc) in the future so I can choose something I really like. Hope that helps!

  • lucy0214
    7 years ago

    Ours was $2400 for a 2000 sq ft house. We will probably be out of pocket about a grand.

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  • virgilcarter
    7 years ago

    That's the problem with allowances: they are often low in order to make the overall construction budget seem lower in the beginning. Unfortunately, there are too many builders that appear to specialize in this technique.

    Allowances, in general, are seldom good ideas since most owners always exceed them--partly because they may be deliberately low, and partly because some owners just get carried away during construction and don't pay attention to the total expense as it adds up.

    The best approach is to select everything that the contractor will provide and install, and indicate these in the construction drawings and specifications used for bidding and construction. That way, all of the costs are known and up front. Plus the owner gets what they want included in the construction contract and cost, from the outset.

    Some owners prefer to purchase certain items on their own, sometimes for cash to avoid putting these items in the construction loan and permanent financing. For these items, they should be itemized in the construction drawings and specifications and the contractor should include the installation in her/his bid.

    A lot of owners delay selecting and specifying many of these items because "it's too much decision-making" and/or "too much work early in the project". For them, the surprising costs come later and we have discussions such as this thread.

    Far better to do the homework early rather than being surprised or disappointed later.

  • renovator8
    7 years ago

    Is it a Fixed Sum or Cost of the Work contract?

    A budget is used for Cost of the Work and an Allowance is used for a Fixed Sum contract.

    If the Owner buys the fixtures it would not be in either contract but in the Owner's budget.

  • livingreen2013
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I would say that ours is neither? But may be wrong. We received bids for every part of the house (plumbing, lighting, drywall, foundation, etc.) and have just tried to keep within our bid numbers. The contractor and sub-contractors put an estimate of some of the things in there, but we picked out most of the items before the bids to be the most accurate (stone, appliances, etc.). It's a custom build, so we're fine pushing the numbers in some of the areas, and are doing the lighting out of our own pocket, but I was just curious if it was common or if I was going overboard with the amount we're looking at spending.

  • Shoe_Here
    7 years ago

    It is all on what you need/want. We just finished our 2400 sq foot ranch. We generaled our house with a little help from my brother in law who is a contractor. We did all lighting purchases on our own. We did all lighting for 1400 bucks. Nothing spectacular but very nice looking. All can lights were in electrician bid so that doesn't include those. Some people need an 800 dollar chandelier. Some are fine with an 80 dollar one. To each his own.

  • renovator8
    7 years ago

    The contract must be one or the other because otherwise no one knows who is responsible for cost overruns.

    It sounds like you are using a Cost of the Work Plus a Fixed Fee contract where you and the builder try to hold to a predetermined budget but only you are liable for going over it and benefit from staying below it.

  • mrspete
    7 years ago

    How many rooms do you have? What I'm getting at is, How much does this allowance give you per room? My gut reaction is that this is low.

    I personally don't want to change out lighting later (I think it's more expensive to put in something cheap now, then change it to what you really want later), so I'd aim for getting it right the first time.

    Personally, I'm buying lighting fixtures NOW from ebay, even though it'll be two years 'til we begin our build. We have our house plan, and we know how many rooms we'll have /what type of fixtures we'll want. Our tastes run towards classic fixtures, so we're saving by buying discontinued lighting fixtures. To give you an example, I am soooo in love with my chandalier; it was just under $200, yet before it was clearanced/discontinued, it was an $800 fixture. It's harder if you need items to match (i.e., open concept /lighting needs to match or coordinate with the next room), but if I can save in some rooms, it'll be worthwhile.

  • PRO
    Window Accents by Vanessa Downs
    7 years ago

    We did a cost plus and our allowance for lighting was $5,000 which I thought was pretty reasonable. I was successful at staying close to that amount and even got basement lighting in there too. However our smoke detectors, doorbell, and those non lighting items drove the cost over.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    7 years ago

    Our GC specifically excluded lighting fixtures,and I can see why. The only way to get a handle on the right allowance is to go room by room and pick something out. Many of our light fixtures were vintage/salvage and they were not wildly expensive. We also bought several from a french firm and most were under $200. Then we bought very nice lanterns for the entry hall, a custom metal drum over a chandelier, and an old Amsterdam street lamp ... each of those several thousand a piece.

    In short, in could almost be like having a budget for the furnishings. You could find a lot of Ikea you like, but then if you fall in love with a Hastens mattress, there goes the budget. And lighting is important -- akin to jewelery for a room aesthetically, and a make or break element functionally.

    I would go through your electrical plan and try to pick things to get the best idea. You will probably splurge in your entry and DR.

    PS Try Shades of Light, Pottery Barn, Circa Lighting, Restoration HW, Rejuvenation, etc to get ideas of prices.

  • renovator8
    7 years ago

    Smoke detectors are normally required by the building code and therefore must be shown on the drawings and be included in the construction contract in order to get a building permit so the cost should have been in the budget.

  • dpusa
    7 years ago

    Our decorative allowance was $3k, and in addition to that about 30 can lights. We added 20 more and went $300 over the lighting allowance - we have a 4000 sqft home (2 finished floors and finished attic)

  • dpusa
    7 years ago

    Agree with Renovator - smoke alarms, door bells, bathroom fans , and some small closet fluorescent lights were in the contract and not part of our allowance.

  • david_cary
    7 years ago

    In our case the smokes, door bell, floods, and fluorescent were part of the allowance.

  • mainecoonkitty
    7 years ago

    We eliminated the lighting fixture budget from our contact and bought everything ourselves, except for the can lights and some odds and ends. We went around to various lighting stores and looked to see what liked, then bought almost all of our fixtures online, even the gigantic chandelier that hangs in our two story foyer. Everything arrived on time and in perfect condition and we saved thousands.

  • icedC
    7 years ago

    Any recommendations for where to look for lighting online? How to hunt on ebay? Such great money-saving ideas!

  • dpusa
    7 years ago

    Lightingdirect.com and Lightinguniverse.com (owned by Lowes) are good ones. Also, Home Depot online is cheap too...

  • dekeoboe
    7 years ago

    mtnrdredux - Can you tell me the name of the French firm you used? I would love to get a French Art Deco chandelier.

  • mainecoonkitty
    7 years ago

    I bought almost everything from LightingDirect.com. Their service was wonderful, the selection was huge, and their prices were great. I highly recommend them.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    7 years ago

    Hi Dekoeboe,

    We needed lights for the entire home, so we bought a lot. We like salvage and industrial, and bought several pieces from these two sources:

    http://www.decoetcompagnie.com/lustres-lampes-et-appliques,fr,2,21.cfm

    http://www.skinflintdesign.co.uk/

    Both sources can rewire their lights for US use. The french site has a lot of things I think are pretty inexpensive, and the quality has been fine. The UK site ranges from modest to pricey, but their stuff is very heavy duty, not faux.

    As far as French Art Deco, i bought a few pieces that I think would qualify for my MBA, but they are very simple. I got them on Etsy but I just looked and she is apparently no longer in business. Too bad, they were cheap.

    My other favorite lighting sources are R.T. Facts here in CT, Charles Edwards (splurge) and Urban Electric (another splurge place).

  • dekeoboe
    7 years ago

    Thanks mtnrdredux, I will have to check them out.

  • njasmine1
    7 years ago

    All allowances on here are high. Mine is only 1,000$ for a 2069 total sq ft home. I wish I had the amounts some of you have.

  • kaljr82
    7 years ago

    We nearly tripled our lighting allowance, even after the builder assured us the allowance would be more than enough.

  • dpusa
    7 years ago

    "We nearly tripled our lighting allowance, even after the builder assured us the allowance would be more than enough."

    That is a general theme with so many builders and ours in some cases :)

  • auroraborelis
    7 years ago

    Our allowance for lighting is $5000 for a 3400 sq ft house, and it is the one allowance item that I truely don't know whether we will be able to meet it. I know it is possible to buy everything within that amount, I just don't know if I want to.

    One poster mentioned that it was possible to buy a chandelier for $80 or $800, I would add to that, it is possible to buy one for $80 or $8,000! I expect that I'll buy lights that cost in the 100s for the island, dining room chandelier and entry way, and then save on the other spaces. Maybe I can squeak in around the $5000 mark!

  • kaljr82
    7 years ago

    Yeah, we were given $1000 for a 2200sq foot home.
    we are sitting at like $3500 I believe.
    Build.com turned out to be a great place for us. They had everything and was reasonably priced.
    When we complete our home and do our builder review that will be one thing we make sure to address, they NEED to raise the lighting allowance.
    And for the record we went over on EVERY single allowance we were given (cabinets, lighting, appliances)

  • LOTO
    7 years ago

    I plugged in $5,000.00 for our 2,400 square foot home and that doesn't include the recessed lighting..the lighting and kitchen are the areas my wife will have the most input and I wanted to estimate enough...she has already picked out kitchen cabinets and tops that blew my cabinet estimate already so lights are probably next :)

  • Spottythecat
    7 years ago

    Our budget for lighting (interior and exterior) not included recessed cans is 10K for 4,668 sq feet. I actually came in right at that number without really skimping. My boys' bathrooms are kinda simple, but the main areas, I really got what I wanted without skimping....

  • mlg32
    3 years ago

    Our budget is $9k and the house is a little over 4000 sq ft. I think that number includes the cans though, because I think I remember the contractor saying about 2K would go for that--- I plan on buying a lot of lights out of pocket because I need that allowance for cabinets-LOL. I love lighting and usually have expensive taste(I think) but I really think $9K is a lot! But maybe I will be proven wrong.

  • Dianna Mullarkey
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Found a online auction and ended up with 7 ceiling fans plus over 70 light fixtures for 300 bucks . Turned around and sold 37 fixtures for $250 . Had enough fixtures to update the house I'm in and met the needs of my new build for $50 bucks so far. Might have to get a fixture or make one here or there to finish out the look I'm going for. Picture is of the extras I got rid of .

  • Renee Texas
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    2K for 2200 sqft 4b/3 full bath.

    I was $100 over, and I like large fixtures and well-lit rooms. We did a mix of online, big box, and lighting store purchases.

    This included our pot lights, undercabinet, doorbell, smoke/carbons, fans. Fans were mostly from Lowes/Home Depot, it's very hard to beat those prices on fans!

  • 902 Juanita
    3 years ago

    From whom are you getting bids for lighting fixtures? Understand that they understand- hard- that you'll probably never be back to them. It's a lot like furniture- they get that "planned obsolescence" doesn't apply, as you're very unlikely to be back. And so?

    Lighting showrooms jack up prices to the point of ridiculous mark-up. My suggestion is to shop local, Get a list of all the brands, models you're looking at. And then go on line and smoke it. In a 2400 custom build, I brought in everything I wanted for 40%-60% less than the showrooms wanted to charge.

    My GC was ok with this strategy. I ordered from reputable sites- everything showed up with all pieces etc. All install instructions intact. Not one fixture was a problem, since most of them were shipped manufacturer direct.

    BTW: Appliances were the place that my GC drew his line. Huh- he's seen one too many situations where a homeowner got a smoking "deal" on a premium appliance, only to unpack it months later and find out it was missing it's "guts". YIKES!!!!

  • mpconklin
    3 years ago

    Okay 902 Juanita, I have to share a differing opinion. The lighting showroom industry is EXTREMELY competitive these days with TONS of competition from the internet, so your claim of ridiculous markups is unfounded. What you WILL find in showrooms is a higher price on showroom tags, but you can't take them at face value. Just like the internet sites that will show you a "retail" price only to mark them down to "Our Price" or sale prices, showrooms will have higher prices on the tags because they then need to offer "builder discount" and sale prices to compete, which typically brings the pricing down to LOWER than what you can find online. Lighting showrooms are a service oriented business, so if you are building or remodeling it behooves you to make an appointment with a consultant and allow them to do their job and help you with your lighting selections. They know the market, the manufacturers, the pricing structures, and they are EXPERTS at helping you find fixtures to fit your budget. And 90% of the time they will be LESS EXPENSIVE than you can find online. So you are actually coming out ahead because you get the benefit of their expertise and probably additional bonuses like delivery to your job site, labeling of boxes and bulbs with room locations, etc... All stuff that online shopping CANNOT provide.

    Most of the bargain lighting sites like Wayfair and Overstock don't carry quality lighting product. If you're looking for really inexpensive product like "crystal" chandeliers with plastic crystals, shop away. I understand that houzz wants to sell products through their site, but it is more important now than ever that Americans shop at their local lighting showrooms. Many of them will have websites that will allow you shop the vast lighting market, so do your research online, but then give your local showroom an opportunity to earn your business. Their employees, families, and your community are depending on it.

  • artemis_ma
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    I've been shopping at two local showrooms, Lowes, HD, and a little bit online for lights. There are also a couple of lights I plan to pick up from IKEA when next I am in there.

    Under cab lighting turned out to be more expensive than I planned - I wanted 2700K warm high quality lighting, and HD was just not going to provide. (I'd never owned under cab lighting before.)

    Anyhow, I'm picking out all my own lights - contractor and electrician, with the exception of the garage & closet lights, are picking out none. So it's not an allowance, but something for living in my own budget. I figure it will be a about $3250-3500 when I'm done, for a 2300 sq foot house (this includes the two lighting fixtures that are also fans - one from HD for inexpensive, and the second a bit more pricy as it will be in the kitchen).

  • Brian Garber
    3 years ago

    Our allowance was only $3k for a 3600 sq. foot house (can lights were a separate allowance). The builders lighting supplier (Ferguson) would have put us WAY over $3,000 unless we picked out very builder basic stuff. We ended up sourcing every single light and five ceiling fans ourselves from a variety of places (online, HD, Lowes, (check out Etsy for some cool stuff or ideas)) and did all the lighting for about $3k with mostly nice looking lights. The lighting folks can say what they want about quality, however most people really don't care - they just want something that will look nice for several years and can always swap it out if malfunctions. Another consideration is bulbs. Some of the nicer looking LED Edison style bulbs can be $6-8 each. We spent about $400 just in bulbs for the whole house.

  • 902 Juanita
    3 years ago

    mpconklin- I get your perspective, but we're just going to have to disagree- perhaps within markets. YES. My hot build market had vendors all over the place marking up HUGE. Lighting was ridiculous. Bottom line- I got all that I wanted- exactly as I wanted, same product- for 40%-60% off what the vultures in my city wanted to charge.

    It wasn't Wayfair- it was great websites from NYC, North Carolina and more, who do volume and don't worry too much about anything else. You are simply misinformed.


  • aprilneverends
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    Not a new build but a gut remodel plus addition-so pretty much like a new build just more annoying and probably more expensive.

    No allowances-the recessed and the under cabinet lighting was part of the quote, the rest- we were free as birds in the sky..but we did have a limited budget. While my wants are more, like, unlimited..:)

    Just the dining fixture I set my eyes on was more than 3K.

    Soo. I chose a different route. Bought all vintage(except for 2 lights in the house, and lanterns for the backyard). Mostly online(Etsy, eBay)-couple times on Craigslist.

    It was a PITA. To say the least. The electricians hated us. Well we didn't exactly like them too lol. Some of the lights had to be tweaked-my DH was obstinately doing it himself in his free time(which is usually never, but if it is-it's 3 am)

    Now we're very happy though. Since we have all the lights we really like, and the overall cost is probably close to the price of that (unrealized) dream of the dining chandelier I loved in the very beginning.

    Do I recommend this route? Sure. If you're ready to invest time and effort rather than money.

    Frankly-I'd rather invest money. It was maddening.

    But I didn't have THAT kind of money. And wasn't willing to compromise so much. because you start looking-and you see all sorts of wonderful things. And you plainly can't afford them..not all at the same time.And you have to get them installed at the same time. So you're to sacrifice something..

    Unless of course your budget is from "House Beautiful" homes or the like...

    And yes, we do have a couple of wonderful lighting shops around here. As I found out when we were looking for couple of European bulbs and sockets..:)

    If to buy already something really expensive, and it can be found in brick and mortar store(which is not always the case, not everywhere)-I'd go with brick and mortar. The people who worked there were impressive. They really knew what they were selling. And what they were doing. Which is not a given, nowadays.

    I liked to deal with individual sellers though, on internet. They care about the feedback and answer all your questions patiently(the problem with me was-I didn't always know what to ask lol) and are generally very pleasant and responsible. It was an experience by itself.

  • kirbyyy86
    3 years ago

    We were bid at $4500 for a 3100 sq ft custom. We promptly smoked that budget when we bought 4 Big Ass Isis fans. However, we have paid out of pocket for other fixtures, and feel we spent money well in vaulted areas and outdoors, where air circulation is important. I think $3,500 for your home is far too low.

  • BJ
    3 years ago

    Our budget is $5,000 for a 4500 sf home. I'm sure we will go over, but we are looking a lot online to keep costs down.

  • OregonRosa (zone 8b)
    3 years ago

    I spent approximately $5,000 for a 2000 sf home. I purchased all my own. This includes the garage and exterior too. I used HD, build.com, schoolhouse electric and rejuvenation as sources.

  • kalenangel
    3 years ago

    ChatCoNc - how do you like the items you purchased from Rejuvenation? I have a wish list saved on their site but wanted more information/reviews before biting the bullet.

  • arialvetica
    3 years ago

    I know this is an old thread, but I found it helpful for my build, so I'll add my budget and brands.

    My lights were sourced from: Lamps Plus, Ballard, Pottery Barn, Minka Aire, Etsy (Lucent Light Shop), Joss & Main, local lightshop (Seagull Lighting and a few other brands), Lowes (Kichler porch lights), Overstock

    Spent approx $6000 for a 2500 sq ft home. In my last house of a similar size, I spent about $600 on light fixtures, but in this house I really wanted my lights to make a statement. :)

  • worthy
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    $4+/sq. ft. for high-end, says the lighting consultant.

    A Vegas-style entry hall crystal chandelier is de rigeur on higher-end homes in our metropolitan area. Figure C$5K-C$50K for that alone.

    ****

    Fortunately, when custom building, the pricing was easy as I just charged per potlight. Customers picked their own fixtures and were charged for installation only.

    When I spec built, I needed to be distinctive, but budget-minded. Especially, as I found that buyers often changed out my choices. All that careful shopping for naught!

    Some great sources in this thread!