Homeowner’s Guide to Rewiring a House

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Electrical standards have changed over the years. If you have an older home, you may have outdated wiring that doesn’t support the capacity needed by modern electrical devices. To eliminate the inconveniences and safety hazards, you’ll need to have a licensed electrician rewire your home. Rewiring a house isn’t simple; it requires a new circuit breaker panel and new wires and connections. Here’s a look at the general process.

Prepare for a Big Project

The cost of a full house rewiring project was just over $1,400 on average nationally in 2022, but can range to nearly $2,300. However, fully rewiring an old home can cost as much as $30,000. However, the financial aspect isn’t the only consideration. To get started, you need to think about:

    • What Do You Need: An electrical inspector will tell you what kind of work needs to be done. If your home still has knob and tube wiring, or fuses instead of breaker switches, then an extensive update is needed. When you have older wiring and the lights flicker, breakers often trip, switches feel warm, or there are burning odors from outlets, schedule an evaluation ASAP.
 
    • The Kind of Work Required: Some electrical rewiring jobs require removing a significant amount of drywall. But that’s not always the case. If a basement, crawl space, or attic is accessible, much of your home wiring can be replaced from there. Having a blueprint helps as it identifies the exact location of wiring systems. Sometimes, a contractor may open the tops and bottoms of walls or cut sections around the perimeter of rooms, instead of demolishing entire walls.
 
    • Create a Plan: It’s up to you to formulate a plan; the electrician will decide how to install new wiring. To start, make a list of appliances and electronics you have and what will likely be upgraded in the next couple of decades. An electrician will factor in your needs in terms of heating & air conditioning equipment, lighting, ceiling fans, water heaters, washing machines and dryers, kitchen appliances, entertainment systems, home office electronics, power tools, swimming pools, stairlifts, etc.

Find a Qualified Electrical Contractor

Ask for personal recommendations or inquire with trade and professional associations. Choose three reputable companies and contact them to determine whether they have expertise in rewiring homes like yours. Check that the business has at least one employee with a master electrician license and an electrical contractor license. The company should have general liability insurance as well.

Once you select a contractor:

  • Get a contract with all the details in writing.
  • Make sure your plan is complete before the work starts.
  • Prepare for disruption; there will be lots of hammering, sawing, and drilling.

When vetting a contractor, also ask for a bid (a price they won’t exceed), rather than an estimate, which is just a ballpark figure that’s sure to increase. Ask them to itemize the bid so you can compare what each electrician includes. Also, ask if the company will finance the project. Additionally, it’s wise to inquire how long they’ve been in business and whether the electrician is licensed and insured (required in some states).

How Long Will It Take?

Expect rewiring a house to take at least a week. The power may be out for a few hours at a time, if not days. Evidence of construction work will be everywhere, so you may want to consider staying with relatives or taking a vacation. Otherwise, consider protecting yourself with a dust mask and wipe down all food preparation surfaces and eating areas before using them. Pets should be kept with a friend or relative or boarded.

Stages of Rewiring a House

A rewiring project typically goes as follows:

  • Opening walls and ceilings, lifting carpets and floorboards to access wires.
  • Replacing wiring, cabling, electrical circuits, mounting boxes, and other equipment.
  • Installing socket and light switch faceplates, lighting, and other fixtures.

If you plan to install recessed overhead lighting or sockets in new places, be sure to inform the electrician ahead of time. It can cost more to change the plan once the work is started. Rewiring a house also provides the opportunity to upgrade your home. For example, your service panel can be updated to 100 amps or 200 amps if you previously had only 50 amps. Replace old circuit breakers as well, preferably with arc-fault circuit interrupter, or AFCI circuit breakers. Hardwiring and connecting smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are a good idea as well.

Additional Considerations

There are numerous considerations that can impact the scope and cost of the work. A few of these include:

  • Current accessibility of wiring.
  • Electrical panel upgrades.
  • Types of rooms being rewired.
  • Community inspection requirements.
  • Cleanup of drywall and plaster.

How to Reduce Costs

Even if a professional is handling the work, you can save money by avoiding opening walls if possible, rewiring your entire house at once, and adding new circuits rather than rewiring everything (if your wires aren’t that old). Using contractor-grade panels, painting over wires on the wall surface, and installing lower-priced fixtures can help you save as well.

Contact Service Today!

If you are rewiring a house, Service Today! provides wiring and rewiring services and can address many other electrical needs as well. Our Cape Coral electricians specialize in removing aluminum wiring, increasing the capacity of home circuits, and helping make your home more energy efficient. Call us at  888-395-0085 to schedule electrical wiring installation and upgrades.

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