We were hoping to install a couple of hanging ceiling lamps in 2 of the rooms in our house. An electrician (not very familiar with Eichlers) suggested external wiring with a plastic strip to cover it but I would rather not do that. Is there any way in an Eichler to pull wiring for a ceiling fixture without replacing the roof ? Thanks in advance for any answers / pointers.
There is no magic solution: If you don't want a surface mount wiring run on the inside you have to cut up the roof. This is the big reason the advice when re-roofing is to put in what ever additional lighting and other wiring you think you want at that time.
Unfortunately, re-roofing is a pretty big ticket item regardless of the type of new roof you select so coming up with the additional money to do electrical work at the same time and to have the electrician and roofer coordinate can make that problematical for some. Here is what our roof looked like when we added some lights when doing our kitchen remodel a few years back.
As Tod said, you really don't want to cut open the roof for wiring unless you're planning on redoing the roof, and there's no good way to get wiring under the roof without cutting the roof open.
There are some other alternatives:
* Wiremold (metal raceway) or a plastic equivalent would work. I'm not a big fan of Wiremold's look, but if you paint it to match the ceiling, it might be more attractive.
* For my bedroom office, I used two hanging lamps on cords, with the cords running off to one side to reach a switched outlet. This works decently well, and looks better to my eye than a permanent WireMold mounted fixture. The two lights also avoids the harsh shadow look of a single ceiling fixture.
* Track lighting can be a great option if you can think of your lighting in terms of individual spots or small pendants. You can get power to the track either by having it run to an existing ceiling outlet. (We did this in the hallway of our atrium model, and we really love having multiple spotlights on pictures in the hall.) Alternatively, you can run the track towards a wall, then run a cord down the wall to an outlet. The previous owners of our place used two tracks and table lamps to light the bedroom, then used an X10 system (remote controls) and a three-controller wall switch to control the lights. We can then control any of the three sets of lights from the light switch at the entry to the room.
Hope this helps,
I'm not persuaded that the paranoia about roofs is justified.
I've spent the last many weeks talking to roofers, AC installers, and general contractors about this issue. The most conservative opinion was: small penetrations, if sealed properly, won't leak, and will be warranted against leaks; larger penetrations, such as those for recessed lighting or A/C ducts, are more prone to problems. Although I have reason to doubt the honesty of the roofers (given their self-interest in securing the job), general contractors live or die by their reputations, and those that I spoke to have plenty of experience with Eichlers.
The reason I believe a tar and gravel roof can be patched properly is that if you use hot tar, the new section of roof will melt and join the existing roof. The work has to be done properly (by thoroughly cleaning the old roof), but it is done frequently. Note: many roofers don't do hot tar. If you find one you like, please let me know (homes at gmail dot com).
I'm getting ready to put about 15 new penetrations in our roof, which has about 12 years of life left in it, so this is a subject I'm intensely interested in.
what sort of lights are considering? maybe a plug in option from a hook could work until you replace your roof.
I ran track lighting along a beam. It's invisible from the rest of the house, but allows my aging eyes to see what I'm doing in the kitchen.