The last “big” stage of our barn construction was to wire in lights and outlets. We had originally budgeted for hiring an electrician; but had a contingency that we’d do it ourselves if we had unexpected expenses. Our budget actually went pretty well overall, but bringing in power was more than we thought, and we’d like to reserve some money for other improvements, so we went ahead and tackled the wiring ourselves.

It was a pretty big job, mostly because we made it into a big job. First we decided to do some stick-framing-style blocking in the interior walls, to have better places to attach outlets, and also to strengthen the walls in case we wanted to erect shelving on them. This was well worth it- just a couple of days of work and a few hundred bucks in lumber really stiffened the walls. You can tell when a door slams; the walls used to shake, but now they don’t!

We wanted outlets everywhere, bright lighting in part of it to use as a shop, and three-way light switches that enable convenient turning-on-of-lights from any the six entry doors. And so, we’ve been wiring, and wiring, and wiring. We originally estimated the need for and purchased 3,000 feet of wire, but had to go get another 1,00 foot roll because we ran out. Phew!

Jobs like this become an obsession out of necessity, where for weeks at a time, you forego all household tasks other than the necessities, and abandon all leisure activities. So animals got fed, the garden got watered, but blogging had to wait, as did cooking healthy meals (hello pizza and beer), the collies are bored from lack of recreational activities, the grass got pretty long, and I have sheep ready to sell that I haven’t yet been advertising. And on and on, but that’s the way it goes. Priorities naturally arrange themselves.

I took a few days off from work, and we powered through two three-day-weekends and one four-dayer over the Fourth of July holiday. My neck and shoulders are killing me from pulling wire overhead on ten foot ladders, and craning my neck to do work inside of ceiling boxes. Living someone else’s profession for a few weekends definitely makes you appreciate their work!

Just a couple of weeks ago, we finally had the new power pole installed at the street, the transformer box put in, and the first electrical outlet in the barn went live (they ok’ed us putting in a GFCI to work from while we finished the rest). Oh, how luxurious it seemed to finally unplug the extension cord running shamelessly through an open window of the house, with a towel as the only weatherproofing since last October (when I plugged it in thinking, aw, it’ll probably only be for a couple of months…). And yay, we can run our bigger air compressor without it groaning in protest at running off of 200 feet of daisy-chained extension cords!

We’re nearly done with the rough-in, and will call for inspection with bated breath, waiting to see what kind of correction list we get back from probably messing up on some more obscure aspects of code. Once we’re over that hurdle, then we can get the framing approved (it’s been informally approved, but they were waiting to observe all of our hole-drilling for wiring before officially signing it off). When that’s done, then we can insulate the bathroom, have that inspected, then sheetrock over it. Then outlets, switches, lights and hopefully…. it’ll truly be “done.” Maybe even before we’d have to renew our building permit! Winking smile