Table of Contents
Rewiring a house can be a daunting task for someone that doesn’t know what they are doing, that is why electrical work of this sort should only be done by a competent and qualified electrician. From a customer’s point of view, they imagine all sorts of problems such as lifting carpets, prising up floorboards, knocking holes in plasterboard and digging grooves in brick walls to replace wires. They imagine that there is no way that they can continue living in their house while the work is going on.
All this is partially true but it doesn’t have to happen like that. Electrical work of this level can only be done by a qualified person and a qualified person knows the best way of completing the jobs without making more mess than is needed. There is an old saying “You can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg” and it is true that you cannot have electrical work done in your home without some disruption but it will be worth it in the long term
Why rewire a house?
Many people ask the simple question “Why does my house need rewiring?”, The answer is just as simple “To prevent your home from burning down and to prevent loss of life”. Everyone wants peace of mind when it comes to household electrics and they want to be sure that their circuits are safe. The UK Building Regulations state that a domestic electrical wiring circuit must be inspected every ten years if you are a homeowner or every five years if the house is rented accommodation. It is very easy for a qualified professional to inspect the circuits and issue an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) to certify the condition of the electrical system. An EICR involves:
- Inspection of all fuse boards or consumer units.
- Inspect a representative sample of switches, sockets and light fittings.
- Check the polarity of the installation.
- Test all protective devices such as circuit breakers and earthing wire so that you and your family are protected from electrical shock.
Your system will only require rewiring if the appropriate test indicates that the wiring installation is out of date and its insulation is deteriorating, or the fixtures and fittings are broken or deteriorated. Once everything has been checked and has been found to be compliant with the Building Regulations, then an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) is issued. An EIC indicates that the new, additional or alteration work done on the domestic circuits were in compliance with the regulations when they were installed. Only an NICEIC or an ELECSA registered electrical contractor may issue the certificate.
The cost to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report
The costs to carry out the EICR will vary depending on the size of the property and the extent of the electrical installation. There will also be price variation depending on whereabouts in the country you live. Average and indicative costs are as shown below.
|Property size||Cost of EICR|
|One bedroom flat||£150 minimum|
|Two bedroom flat||£150 to £170|
|Three bedroom flat||£180 to £220|
|One and two bedroom house||£160 to £190|
|Three and four bedroom house||£200 to £250|
|Five bedroom house||£300 minimum|
|Larger houses||Depending on the size of the house and number of rooms.|
Don’t forget that an EICR will only highlight those areas that need a change in order to be safe, i.e faulty connections, outdated and deteriorated wiring, and inadequate short circuit protection.
Signs to look out for with domestic wiring
Everyone approves of the idea of the safety aspects of having up-to-date electrical circuits that are safe and operate reliably. So there are a few signs you should look out for when going about your daily life that will tell you if you are likely to need an electrical inspection and possibly a re-wire.
- Is the consumer unit plastic and does it have a wooden backing, cast iron switches, black cable, no labelling or do you have a fuse box only? If so it is out of date and needs to be replaced.
- Have you a fuse box rather than a consumer unit? Fuse boxes protect a circuit by allowing a special piece of wire inside the fuse to melt if the electric current is too large. Unfortunately, the time it takes for the wire to melt is long enough for the electricity to cause harm to a person.
- Have you any out of date wall sockets? Are the sockets or switches cracked or discoloured? Do you have the round pin plugs and sockets rather than modern three pin sockets? Do the plugs ever feel hot? All are signs that an inspection is needed.
- Do your breakers trip often? Could there be faulting with current surges or with earthing?
- Do the wires have old insulation colours? Do you have aluminium wiring? Check that the cables have an earth wire and connection. These are all signs of old wiring.
- Do you have lights that flicker or dim repeatedly? Do you have light bulbs that blow more often than you think they should? These are signs that you may have faulty connections.
What is the difference between a consumer unit and a fuse box?
Both these electrical circuit components do exactly the same job, they stop the electrical current from flowing in the circuit. This is called ‘tripping’ the circuit.
- Consumer Unit. When a circuit ‘trips’, a consumer unit will automatically turn off the power linked to an overloaded circuit. The switch on the circuit breaker corresponding to that circuit will be indicating that it is ‘OFF’, so making the faulty circuit easily identifiable. The electrician can then fix the problem in the circuit before switching the circuit breaker to ON, so the power is restored.
- Fuse Box. A fuse box uses fuses rather than circuit breakers. Each fuse contains a length of special wire that will melt when the circuit is overloaded. The melted wire, therefore, breaks the circuit and stops the current from flowing. It is not very easy to identify the circuit that has overloaded the fuse so each fuse will require checking to see if it has ‘BLOWN’. A Blown fuse needs to be replaced before the electrical circuit can be restored.
Consumer units aren’t just the modern version of a fuse box. One of the consumer unit’s best features is that each circuit breaker will prevent current from flowing before there is any chance of harm coming to a person. This is not the case with fuses as the wire takes a comparatively long time to melt. It is a safe bet to say that if you still have a fuse box in your property it won’t be compliant with the latest electrical regulations and will have to be replaced by a consumer unit fitted with circuit breakers.
Electrical Wiring Costs: Installation & Fittings
Electrical rewiring costs will vary depending on a number of different factors.
- Size? If you have a large house, the electrical installation cost will naturally be more than if you have a small home.
- Occupied or not? It is far easier to rewire a house if the occupants are not living in it at the time. Electricians will work faster in an empty property and will not have to worry about making it livable again at the end of the working day.
- Fixtures & fittings? Standard white PVC fittings are far cheaper and easier to install than brass or stainless steel fittings.
- Sockets and fittings. The cost to rewire a home will depend on the number of sockets, light fittings, security lighting, whether you have mains powered smoke alarms or outside power points.
- The cost of labour will vary depending on where you are in the UK.
- The cost of rewiring an old house will usually be more than the cost of a newer house.
You know how large your house is, have a look at the guide prices for home electrical wiring and decide which listed property is similar to yours.
If you need a total rewire of the entire house, the cost of electrical work for your property should be similar to these.
|Property||Price range||Duration of work|
|Two bedrooms terraced house||£2,500 to £3,500||5 to 8 days|
|Three bedrooms semi detached house||£3,000 to £4,500||6 to 10 days|
|Four bedrooms detached house||£3,800 to £5,700||10 to 15 days|
These prices assume the house is empty and cleared of furniture.
A total rewire job will typically include the following as standard.
- Remove old wiring and fittings.
- Install new cables.
- Install a new consumer unit with circuit breakers.
- Renew all wiring from the consumer unit to the electricity meter.
- Install standard white PVC electrical socket outlets and switches.
- Final installation certification.
- Minor plastering work to fill chases around the conduit. Does not include painting and decorating.
Other jobs that an electrician can do
While you have the electrician at your property sorting out the rewire, it will be much better to get those other little electrical jobs done. If new wiring and sockets need to be installed it is better to do this when the place is in upheaval, isn’t it? Don’t assume that this will be included in with the cost to rewire a house, it will more than likely be charged extra.
Typical jobs could be:
- Replacing a light fitting.
- Install security light and motion sensor
- Replace kitchen fluorescent lighting to LED downlights.
- Adding extra power sockets
|Replace fusebox with consumer unit||£350 to £550||Take 1 day maximum.
Issue an NICEIC Electrical Installation Certificate and Part P Notification.
|Replacing light fitting||£30 to £60||Less than 1 hour|
|Install security light and sensor||£100 to £150||3 hours.|
|Replace fluorescent lights with LED||£300 to £500||5 to 8 hours|
Other electrical work that will be useful around the house include an external light or lights on the patio, install a pump for the proposed new fish pond and add illuminations, install mains operated smoke alarms, install an outside power socket (useful if you have an electrically powered lawn mower or grass strimmer) and add lighting and power sockets into the garden shed and garage.
Professional or DIY?
All electrical house wiring installations and additions should only be done by a qualified electrician who is able to issue an Electrical Installation Certificate confirming that all the electrical circuits were in accordance with the Building Regulations at the time of installing. If you are good at DIY and understand domestic electrical systems then it is acceptable for you to do the work yourself as long as a qualified electrician inspects and checks your work before issuing the certificate.
Rewiring a house is certainly not a job for an amateur as the slightest mistake could cause serious problems including fires and electrocution. You will also find that if anything happens and an insurance company becomes involved, they will ask for all electrical installation certificates.
If you decide to rewire your property yourself ensure you have contacted the local Building Control office as the installation work will have to be inspected under ‘Part P’ of the Building Regulations at different points in the installation. The council will then issue an EIC, but remember they charge for this service and if the inspector finds anything wrong with your work, you will have to pay for it to be done properly. It is always better to ask a qualified electrician and get the rewiring done properly.
Rewiring your property is not only a good idea, but is also required by law for electrical installations to be up to a certain standard. A qualified electrician is an ideal person to do this installation work and have a certificate issued at the end to prove that the work has been done to the appropriate regulations. It isn’t illegal to rewire your own property but it will still have to be inspected by a qualified person so you may as well have it done properly by an electrician.