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What Does "Rough In" Mean?


Definition: As applied to home building and remodeling, to rough in means to lay out the basic lines without making the final connections. It is done preliminary to approval by a building, electrical, or plumbing inspector, so that a building permit may be finalized.

Additionally, covering materials--walls, ceilings, flooring--are not in place yet. This allows for easier modifications.

Only after final inspection are coverings installed and the permit is "finaled" or finalized.

Changes Not Expected:

A building rough-in is not similar to a creative rough layout or draft, both of which imply that changes are expected.

With building rough-ins, it is assumed that all of the work is done to specification and that no changes will be made. However, in the event that an inspector should order a modification, the work is accessible enough for those changes to be made.


  • Electrical: A rough-in job would mean to pull all of the electrical cables through the studs and into the boxes. But light switches, outlets, lights, and so forth would not be attached.
  • Plumbing: With plumbing, roughing-in would mean to bore holes through the studs for the pipes, install and connect pipes, but to avoid connecting fixtures or any end elements.
Pronunciation: RUFF-in
The contractor said that the plumbing and electrical rough in work had been completed, and both were awaiting a visit from the city inspector for approval.

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