What Is MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, & Plumbing)? [Guide]

It takes special foresight by a homeowner to not only anticipate the design of a remodel or new home construction, but also to think about the hidden parts of construction before the design is completed.  MEP, or “Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing” are becoming more important in a home because it can add ease to daily living with its functionality plus reduce any unnecessary use of energy.

There’s a difference between renovating an old home versus new construction. New homes are built differently using new building science. You can always ask your builder or architect what you should look for given your project.

Our Hamish Murray Construction mascot, “Inspector Kiwi”, inspects the new ductwork of a kitchen remodel.

What heat ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) options should I consider?

Electricity or Gas: The first thing to determine is whether you will choose to heat or cool the home with electricity or with gas. With fossil fuel prices going up and becoming less sustainable, you may find that electrical heat pumps for heat and cooling are more cost-effective today than perhaps anticipated. There is also a rising trend to add solar capabilities on homes. When you are looking at heating and cooling options, ask about relative efficiencies for gas versus electric for each recommended unit, plus how quickly this product can adjust to thermostat changes.

Gas versus Induction Range You may choose gas for heating and cooling if you will use gas for other purposes, such as for a range or fireplace. Traditionally, homeowners have assumed that gas ranges produce the best culinary results. Today, however, more homeowners are finding that an induction range is highly efficient and responsive and often choose induction over a gas range.

newly remodeled home with grey and light blue cabinets and a red runner rug
Kitchen remodel with an induction range | Architect: Howells Architecture + Design | Photography: KuDa Photography

Heat recovery ventilator With new home construction, you will need a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) for home ventilation so the home will be built with minimal leaks of air to the outside, keeping energy utilization efficient. HRVs take inside stale air and recycle the air to keep it fresh. If you are buttoning up and modernizing an old home, there are ways to check to see if your house will be leaky or if there are enough air gaps through doors and windows to keep your home air fresh. Your builder can help you determine whether an HRV will be needed or not.

Air filtration When you are putting in a new Heat Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) system, another thing to consider is the degree of air filtration that you would like. If you have allergies, it’s wonderful to have a filtration system with a higher MERV rating, keeping allergens at a minimum within the house. Be careful to not just buy a HEPA filter yourself as an after-thought; such filters could be too taxing on many existing heating and cooling systems. Ask your architect or builder what they recommend.

Heating floors Thinking of heating your floors? Not many homeowners do more than heat a bathroom floor; it’s just not cost-effective. Heated floors also take time to cool a room as the weather changes.

But it’s a wonderful feature for a bathroom.

You do not need to know it all. Your architect will most often refer the HVAC design to a specialized consultant to complete the construction drawings and make some recommendations.

What should I know about electrical wiring for my home?

You should be able to rely on an architect and later an electrician to identify your electrical wiring needs. The main things to consider are how you will live in each room, including furniture layout, and how your lifestyle and room use may change over time. This will help to identify where you need lights and outlets.

When the home is under construction, there’s often a time when you are invited to review your plans on site and make any minor modifications. For example, an outlet may need to be moved a few feet or an additional light fixture may need to be added. These changes are often best visualized within each room.

Smart homes It’s a good idea to consider the benefits of a smart home for a major home remodel or new house construction. Smart homes are wired differently than a traditional home. You do not need to be into technology to have a smart home, and in fact, wiring the home for smart technology can actually simplify your life. With a smart home, you can benefit from easy features for security, entertainment, lighting, fewer switches to manage, timers, and more. Consider going to a smart home showroom to see what options there are, and then you can decide on how “smart” you wish your home to be.

smart home light switch for entry, exterior, and pathway
Smart home light switch | Photography: KuDa Photography

What should I consider for plumbing options in my home?

For most decisions, you can rely on your architect and a plumber to guide you through your options. However, there’s certain things that are worthwhile to consider while your home is being constructed or remodeled:

Landscaping There’s nothing like watching the garden be automatically watered in the summer, minimizing your time, and even knowing that you no longer need to worry about a dry garden if you leave for a few days. If you decide that automatic sprinklers are not in your project scope for now, at least consider adding water and electrical outlets on the outside of the home so you don’t have to start opening up walls later.

Saunas, pools or hot tubs If you think that in your future you want luxury features like a sauna, pool, or hot tub, consider adding those outlets now as it will save opening up walls later.

Noise It’s worthwhile to dampen the noise of pipes in your home. Cast iron is much quieter than PVC drain pipes. You can also use noise-blocking materials around your PVC drain pipes to keep the noise down, such as foam sleeves that wrap around your PVC pipes

Tell us about what’s important to you.

We seek to build each project on schedule and on budget, and always with top-notch quality results. We solely work with independent architects and designers, and we build long-term lasting relationships. If you are planning on home construction and are wondering about where to start, we would be happy to answer your questions or refer you to one of our trade partners.

Contact us

We’d love to meet you. Contact us or call us at (503) 460-7203 with questions you have, or ask us about our philosophy, experience, or any other question that is on your mind.