Residential: modern Houses by MZO TARR Architects

The need-to-know guide for rewiring a house

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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Not all home renovation projects are equally fun or glamorous – or dangerous. Slipping on spilled paint, for example, is nowhere near as hazardous as playing with electrical sockets, especially when you don’t really know what you’re doing (which is why the appropriate professional for the job, like a trained electrician, is vital). 

When it comes to rewiring a house, various factors need to be considered, including cost, the length of the project, and how it will affect your day-to-day life. 

But don’t fret, for the homify guide to what you should know about rewiring a house is right here!

1. When is rewiring a house necessary?

Riggsacre, Corbridge: modern Houses by MWE Architects
MWE Architects

Riggsacre, Corbridge

MWE Architects

Any house that has not been rewired within the last 25 – 30 years will likely require partial rewiring, at least. But if you’re unsure, don’t take any chances – call in that competent electrician to come and check. 

To ensure everything stays in working order in your home, have your electrics inspected by a professional approximately once a decade. After inspection, the electrician will provide you with an EICR (electrical installation condition report).

The signs that your electrics need updating: 

• An old-fashioned fuse box (now called a consumer unit). This may have wooden back, cast iron switches, white ceramic fuses, or a mixture of fuses. 

• Surface-mounted cables running along skirting boards and up walls that look unsightly, suggesting that minimal quick-fix rewire work has taken place. However, sometimes it is used to prevent damage to the building’s fabric. 

• Black rubber, lead or fabric covered cables – modern cabling is uPVC coated. 

• Old-fashioned sockets and bakelite switches. Sometimes these are retained in a non-working condition, or new replica designs may have been fitted, which an electrician can check for you.

2. How do you know your property has been rewired?

Inspect exposed parts of the wiring, as well as the electricity meter and fuse box. When checking out a property you’re thinking of purchasing, ask to inspect these elements. Refer to number one above for signs that a modern rewiring is required. 

With two or more sets of circuits, it can be tricky to know if all of them have been disconnected when undertaking work. A mix of different socket- and switch styles could indicate that a partial rewire has taken place, especially if there is evidence of surface-mounted wiring running along skirting boards and up walls.

Certain properties that have not been renovated in decades may still have old round pin sockets or original dolly switches, indicating that a rewire is essential.

Also check the colour and style of the cabling, which you should be able to see at light fittings, around the fuse box. Modern electrical installations are wired in PVCu-insulated cable coloured grey or white, and a modern consumer unit will have circuit breakers and residual circuit devices (RCDs).

3. What to focus on when rewiring a house

Gina & Rita wall lights: modern Corridor, hallway & stairs by Designed by Light
Designed by Light

Gina & Rita wall lights

Designed by Light

Faulty wiring is one of the main reasons for rewiring a house – no surprise, seeing as this causes about 12,500 fires and 750 serious accidents in the home each year. Some of the most common faults to check are: 

• A consumer unit with wooden backing, cast iron switches, a black electricity cable or no labelling—prime evidence that your consumer unit is out of date and you should have it replaced. 

• Fewer than two plug sockets in each room, broken or cracked sockets and rounded entries as opposed to 3-pin varieties can indicate that your plug sockets are out of date. Also keep in mind that if the plugs ever feel hot, they will need to be inspected as soon as possible. 

• Flickering lights or lights which require frequent light bulb changing could indicate that a rewiring project is needed. Most bulbs should last from months to years, depending on how much they’re used. Certain LED lights can last for up to 50,000 hours. Rounded light switches are an indication of pre-1960 lighting, which need to be rewired with modern switches. 

• If you’re set on rewiring your house, ensure that all of the wiring in your fuse box is also checked to make sure all are up to date.

4. How much does it cost to rewire a house?

Solid Pendants in Nero Marquina marble: modern Kitchen by Terence Woodgate
Terence Woodgate

Solid Pendants in Nero Marquina marble

Terence Woodgate

The final figure depends on a number of factors, including:  

• whether the house is occupied or vacant 

• the amount of bedrooms (prices typically vary by £1,000 per bedroom) 

• the overall size of the property  

• the age of the property,  

• where you live, and  

• the pros that you hire.

Rewiring a 3-bedroom, semi-detached house generally costs £3,200 and can take up to 10 days to complete. Remember that prices can vary depending on your region, as well as timing: the bigger the job, the longer it will take to complete.

When it comes to rewiring an old house, expect to add the removal of previously old fittings and wiring to the final bill.

5. Can I DIY my electrics?

Night time in the Garden:  Garden  by GK Architects Ltd
GK Architects Ltd

Night time in the Garden

GK Architects Ltd

By law, only minimal electrical work may be carried out on a DIY basis without having it inspected by a competent electrician and getting building regulations approval.

You may: 

• add a new socket by running a spur, and/or  

• add or change a light fitting.

However, when it comes to more significant works, leaving the project in the hands of a professional is crucial.

6. Finding the right pro for the job

Electricians in Bath: modern Living room by BPM Electrical
BPM Electrical

Electricians in Bath

BPM Electrical

All electricians in England and Wales are legally obligated to comply with the Part P building regulations. To ensure that you are covered by insurance and not part of illegal activity, there are certain factors to look for when hiring an electrician: 

• Make sure they present you with their qualifications before hiring them. They also need to be under a competent person with a provider such as NICEIC or ELECSA. 

• The electrician must show you their public liability insurance and a warranty policy. This is to ensure that you are covered in the event that something does go wrong while they are performing the rewiring job.  

• Once rewiring a house is completed, they need to give you a certificate from Building Control confirming that the project they have done meets Part P of the Building Regulations.

Make the best of your rewiring project by remembering these Secrets an electrician definitely won't tell you for free!

Planning on rewiring your house in the near future? Did our guide come in handy?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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