How much will it cost to light my new build?
How do I budget for my lighting?
There’s not an easy answer to this but you, as the instigator of the project, probably hold more answers than you know. Here are a few personal observations from my years as a lighting designer.
Architectural design of the project
The design of your building will determine how much natural light you can take advantage of – position and size of the windows and surrounding landscaping will have a strong impact on the interior illumination. The more you can benefit from natural light, the fewer light fittings you will need to purchase and the lower will be the running costs so it’s worth bearing this element in mind during the initial planning phase
Initial Costs versus Running Costs
There are two elements to bear in mind – the cost of a) purchasing the products and b) installing them and then there’s the price of running them over the years. Incorporating a home automation system can be quite a hefty outlay initially but there are economical features that can be integrated and an installer will be able to arm you with the figures to help you make an informed decision.
Keep it in proportion to the rest of the build
If you are looking for a high end finish throughout the building the quality of the integral fittings should be in line with the standard of building materials and other fitments. I’ve seen projects let down at the eleventh hour by clients saving (the tiniest proportion of the complete build cost) by using plastic light switches or cheaper LEDs giving out glary cold light. And I’ve even had a client who presumed the cost of lighting the entire house would be equivalent to the price he was paying for a rather luxurious bath tub. As the saying goes “Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar”
Is it worth getting a professional lighting design plan?
It’s often a false economy to try and do things ourselves if we don’t have the specific knowledge and experience. Think about the plants that we’ve positioned incorrectly in our gardens, or the kitchen layout that we find irritating. If you get a professional in you’ll end up with a more cohesive and professional scheme and ultimately it can save you money. For further information check out Why is Interior Lighting Design Important?
What defines expensive?
Everyone holds an approximate price bracket in their heads and this is greatly influenced by what their priorities are. Several years ago when I owned a lighting and lifestyle showroom I had a beautiful ribbed nickel picture light on display in the shop front; the price was approximately £200. A client of mine admired the piece but baulked at the price and asked who on earth would pay so much for a wall light. This same client owned a designer clothes shop in the same town and there were only a few items of clothing in her shop that would come under this price bracket. I may be biased but if you factor in the enjoyment per day, per month, per year I would say that my wall light won hands down over a dress worn a handful of times but then it’s all a matter of priorities.
Get it Right Now
I’ve had clients who say they like subdued light and want to hold back on the number of fittings. Whilst I am a great advocate of mood and ambient lighting an allowance for greater task lighting should always be borne in mind, especially as over the years we will need more light with our aging eyes. No one wants the hassle of adding more lighting once the build has been completed and whilst lamps can help add illumination to living rooms and bedrooms it’s not so easy in bathrooms and kitchens where more task lighting is needed.
How much will it cost?
In short I’m afraid there is no easy answer but as a lighting designer I like to know more about the style and quality envisaged for the project and will propose the best, most cost-effective solution for the scheme in hand always bearing in mind quality and longevity.
Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience
Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently