Photograph of a bathroom with white and lavender walls, a white sink and white door. Two sconces rest on either side of the mirror, both turned on.

Plumbers Doing Lighting

You’ve got the wrong professional.

A long time ago I spent several years as a full-time construction supervisor responsible for training volunteer crews and building new homes from the ground up with Habitat for Humanity in Mississippi.  I learned how to pour slab foundations, rough in plumbing, wire a breaker panel, install cabinets, put on a good roof and finish drywall.  By the end of the two years I could construct a home.

I also learned that being a good plumber, electrician or drywaller is not as easy as it looks.  I never acquired the training or spent the time to sweat the perfect copper joint and fear plumbing to this day.  I continue to get better at wiring, but a real electrician can make my work look novice in a heartbeat.  And don’t let me close to drywall mud.

A photograph of a bathroom with white sink and mirror over the sink. There are two wall sconces on either side of the mirror, both lights are turned on.

My point is that these jobs- often called the building trades- are skilled positions requiring knowledge, patience, training and experience.  One does not master installing a tub valve overnight, nor does one master finishing concrete to glassy smoothness in a week.  You shouldn’t hire me to do your plumbing.

And you should not hire a plumber to do your lighting design.

No one would, right?  No one would hire a plumber to do their lighting design, no one would hire an electrician to pour their driveway, no one would hire an interior designer to put on a new roof.  The creation of a home requires training and experience.

Okay, so no one hires plumbers to do lighting design, but the overwhelming majority of homeowners unwittingly hire electricians to do it.  The logic goes something like this: “The electrician installs and connects the lighting, so they must be qualified to lay it out.”

You might also say “the carpenter builds the walls, so they must be qualified to design homes.”

“The architect draws the plans, so they should be able to lay the concrete block foundation.”

Photograph of a bathroom with wooden floors and countertops. There are two winks along the counter and a continuous mirror for a wall above them. Three light fixtures rest on the mirror, turned on.

Today’s home is not a simple log cabin with a door, window and fireplace.  A good solid home requires all the trades- and designers- working together to the best of their abilities.  When we ask individuals to step outside of their expertise we risk lowering the quality of the home and negatively affecting our experience every day.

You need a good electrician to make sure your home is wired correctly, safely and up to code.  You need a good electrician to make sure your breaker panel is easy to maintain and lasts.  You need a good electrician to wire up lights and dimmers.

You also need a lighting designer to help you decide where to put those lights and what types of lights to use.

Don’t hire a plumber to do your lighting design, or an electrician for that matter.  Most of them are about as good at lighting as I am at plumbing.

Light Can Help You