Yesterday, my client called me in a panic: "They just told me I have 'inadequate electrical service!'"
No, it's not some dreaded disease--it just means she doesn't have enough juice to power up her new 48" fridge, built-in cappuccino maker, toaster and AC all at once. It's something typical to city renovations, when we upgrade our "Honeymooner's"-era appliances to today's models.
Here's the deal:
• By today's code, every appliance must run on its own circuit. That means a lot more circuits than your apartment was built for--it may only have one circuit for your entire kitchen! With your designer or architect, lay out exactly how many lights, outlets, HVACs and appliances you'll be adding.
• An electrician will look at your circuit breaker to assess how much power is currently available to your apartment, and compare it to how much you'll need. He will draft a "load letter" for the building's engineer to review.
• If there is enough power, you'll just need a new, larger circuit breaker, and to run new lines from the breaker to your new appliances.
• If there's not enough power, and your building approves the amount you're asking for, you'll have to bring it up from the basement. Expect that to cost about $2,000 per floor. (If you're on a low floor, you get off easy.)
• Remember that dual-fuel ovens and some air conditioners require a 220 line. Some buildings will not allow you to install that. Don't purchase an appliance until you know for sure.