Washington Home Builder
Serving the Greater Pacific Northwest
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Setting Up Your Temporary And Permanent Power

Posted in: Learning Center

Part of home building for Washington Home Builders is getting electricity to your new home. This involves 2 phases: temporary and permanent power.
If you have a modular or manufactured home, you may already have a pole that can be used for construction purposes if it does not need to be moved. You or a certified electrician may need to modify it to use for temporary construction purposes.

Avoid this common mistake: waiting until the electrical rough in apply for permanent power. This can create a needless delay in construction of literally weeks.

Temporary Power

TEMPORARY POWER means power that is only for the period of construction. The various workers need this to plug their power tools into as they build your house. This must be in place by the time we stake the home out with you

Please follow these steps to get temp power:

  1.  Home owner or licensed electrician needs to set a pole to conform to local codes.
    1. Check with the PUD or an electrician about amp requirements. Usually it’s 60 amp.
    2. It must have at least 2 outlets.
    3. If you hire someone, it usually costs about $450-$750 which may or may not include the permit that the electrician will get.
    4. The pole should be mounted no further than 70 feet from where the house will be built. Usually closer is better.
  2. A temporary power permit must be obtained.
  3. After it has been placed in the ground with panel and secured to the ground according to local codes for pole height and depth, your local building inspector will come to your sight and approve or require change to get approved. Thus the reason for you or your electrician obtaining a permit.
  4. Once approval has been received, you will need to call your local power company to connect the temp power. Usually they will come out within a week. The local entity that enforces code for temporary power poles will affix an approval sticker on the panel, giving your power company the needed notification that it meets code.
  5. Temporary power can be disconnected once permanent power is hooked up.
  6. The temporary power pole needs to be in position before we can order concrete and foundation work. You are now ready for True Built Home to start construction.

Permanent Power

PERMANENT POWER is the power that services the house for the life of the house. Once the line is run from the street to your home and connected at the meter box, you can remove your temporary power pole from your site.

It is very important that you understand this timeline:

  1. You should have begun arranging for both temporary and permanent power no later than the preconstruction meeting with True Built Home.
  2. For the permanent power, you will need to complete a “New Service” application for your new home with the local PUD for the area. Often you can download this application online.
  3. The PUD will then arrange to meet you at the site to discuss your options. This is done at the same time, or even before the temporary power is installed.
  4. Once we rough-in the electrical, it is now ready for the permanent power to be hooked up.

It is important that you know that we will not sheetrock the home until permanent power is hooked up. Why? Because temporary power cannot provide enough power to heat the home, which is needed to accelerate the sheetrock drying process. Rented propane heaters or, even worse, kerosene heaters often end up causing cracks to occur that require the sheet rockers to work more to get a better finish and can result in an additional charge.
On a side note, if you do use kerosene heaters be aware that it gives off a film or residue over the sheet rock that makes the final painting of the home a very laborious chore.

Power lines are either run overhead from a power pole (a real one) or underground.

Home builders in Washington State find that it is becoming more and more common to have underground power. In this case, an excavator will dig a trench, the PUD will send a crew to run the power to the house and the excavator will bury the lines and cover the trench when they’re done.
If you are going to go with underground power, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • If you dig a trench from a power source to your home, if it extends a certain distance there could be an additional transformer at your cost (around $700). This distance varies-in some cities it is up to 220 feet before you need a transformer, however, it can go as high as 325 feet in others jurisdictions. You will have to check with your local PUD for a more definite answer. The transformer boosts the power to the next point-usually your meter.
  • After the meeting with the PUD, you may need to hire someone to trench from the source of power or “street” to the area of the house where the meter base will get installed (usually the garage). That trench may need to be inspected.
  • Once inspected, the PUD will come and install the line.
  • Your excavator or you now will need to bury the line.
  • The PUD will connect from the source of power to the meter.
  • True Built Home takes care of all electrical inside the home. Home owners arrange for everything outside of the home. (if you have a pump septic system, please click here for information regarding septic systems)

Washington home builders usually choose underground power for several reasons:

  • Overhead power requires an additional conduit to be run through the roof that increases your cost and is unsightly.
  • Having power lines running to your house over your walkway or driveway or perhaps over your yard is not very aesthetically pleasing. It can give your home that ‘manufactured home’ feeling. Underground lines are obviously hidden from view.
  • The mortality rate of squirrels and birds increases due to random electrocutions. We at True Built Home have a soft spot in our hearts for squirrels and birds.

So for the above reasons we encourage underground power wherever possible.
To arrange for permanent power you will need to contact the public utilities departments (PUD) in your area.

For general information on electrical power, visit the L&I website