Many new log homes are built on undeveloped land, which in many instances requires you to bring in electricity and other utilities to the site. Even if your have a general contractor or builder, a little knowledge about how to connect to the electrical grid is helpful to know in advance, particularly when developing a budget.
Identify the Electrical Utility
Your realtor or code enforcement officer can identify the electrical utility that owns the poles, transformers and grid in your area. In many markets, electricity suppliers may be different than the company that maintains the infrastructure (poles, transformers, etc.) for electricity. We looked at our own Central Maine Power (CMP) for information, but many companies provide similar information on their main websites.
In Maine, CMP can construct the power line extension for a new home, or can permit a private contractor to complete the process. You’ll need to assess whether you wish to connect above-ground, using poles, or with underground service. To assess the property, a CMP technician will need to meet on-site to review the route between the road and the home site. The company requires that the road or driveway in staked and roughed in to support its trucks and the foundation for the home should be staked out. First, an account will need to be set up in order to make an appointment.
The utility will need to have a utility easement to access the lines. Information such as the deed recording dates and location will be required to ensure the utility has legal access. If other utilities such as land line telephone or internet/cable is to be installed, place a call at the same time to arrange for concurrent installation. In many locations, a copy of a land use certificate for subdivision or waterfront may be required.
The utility professional will review the route the electrical line will take, examining the ground for ledge, vegetation that might need to be trimmed or removed, and infrastructure relative to the line. A route will be marked using tape and measured. Pricing is based on number of poles, length of the trench for underground service, whether any poles will need to be placed on rock ledge surfaces requiring special bracing, and a requirement for an intermediate transformer. Other costs for underground service will include PVC conduit, trenching services, and sand for backfill.
Pad mount transformers are commonly used for underground service that exceeds the minimum distance from the main line. The transformer compensates for the loss of amperage through resistance over the length of the cable. The pad for a transformer will typically be constructed of poured concrete to specifications. The owner of the property is responsible for the pad, and it is usually prepared at the same time as the foundation. Take note of locations for the pad mount transformer; some homeowners neglect to pay attention to the detail and end up with a large utility box in unattractive places, like right next to the front entrance to the home. The transformer needs to be in a location easily accessible to a utility crew for inspections and service.
If any additional power sources are planned on the site, such as propane stand-by generators or AC/DC converters, it’s probably a good idea to alert the utility representative during the site visit. He or she may have some good suggestions for locations and precautions for these additional electrical services.