If you have just found out your home needs to be rewired then this article is for you! I’ve put this house rewire guide together to help ensure success with your chosen electrician. It’s not a practical guide on how to rewire your own house.
I’ve rewired apartments, bungalows, houses, and shops all over Cardiff and documented tips and tricks to help you along the way right here. Follow it and get the most from your full (or is it a partial?) rewire. But enough about me: this advice applies wherever you live in the UK. So make yourself a brew and let’s get started!
Forget all about the existing wiring and layout…
Think blank canvas when it comes to rewiring your house. I see so many prospective rewire jobs, where the client hasn’t had a chance to give it much thought and wants “whatever is there at the moment”. Or, “just do what you think is best”. Listen, you only want to do this once. It is going to cost you thousands and turn your house upside down. It’s your chance to get sockets, lights, and data points where you want them. Plan it properly. Don’t just hire the first electrician that answers your call and leave it up to them what to do. Do your homework on what you want, where and the electrician you are going to hire first!
Ten things to ask yourself before committing to a rewire
- Am I going to live in my home whilst the rewire takes place?
My advice: Move out. Stay with friends, family, Airbnb – or whatever it takes to get out. It will get done quicker, should cost less (because more time is spent on rewiring than making it safe at the end of the working day) and you are less likely to get stressed whilst you watch your home taken to bits. Ask friends, family, and work colleagues if they have experience with house rewires and see what they say!
- How am I going to pay for the rewire and any other work necessary?
When you get electricians to quote: don’t forget to ask for payment terms. Some want a partial payment to book the job and get materials. Others may want 50% when the first fix is completed and the balance when the rewire is finished and certified. Some may just want the invoice to be paid upon completion. On the subject of payment, check how they want the payment to be made. Some electrical contractors offer credit card payments or finance for all electrical work.
What other work do you mean? Rewiring is disruptive and can trigger other work, that isn’t foreseen. Some costs you may have to budget for on a rewire I can think of include:
- Flooring. The carpet may look perfectly OK, but if it’s been there for twenty-five years it might not lay properly after being rolled up whilst the rewire takes place. Sometimes, unknowingly to a new homeowner, carpet has been joined (or repaired) and tears when pulled up. If it’s newish carpet, that will be a lot easier to deal with than laminate flooring on the first floor, however. A lot of electricians will ask the client to get someone else to lift laminate flooring and relay it upon completion.
- Decorating. If you are having the wiring and accessories chased in the walls, then they will need to be decorated upon completion. It’s not too bad usually with painted walls, because they can be painted. But, with wallpaper, it’s typical to have the whole area re-papered. If that’s a hall, stairs and landing with the same paper (which is no longer made), then that’s more cost for you to put in the final amount the rewire is going to cost you.
- Asbestos. If your ceilings and walls have an Artex finish then it’s possible they have a small amount of asbestos in them. It’s not usually an issue with the ceiling (because the lights are typically mounted in the same place as the old ones), but it’s not a good idea to run a wall chaser on a wall with Artex before getting it tested first.
- Rubbish removal. Are the electricians you going to hire take the rubbish with them, or are you going to hire a skip? It’s surprising how much can build up – even from the wall chasing machine.
- Storage. If, like a lot of people you need your house rewired after living there for some time: where are you going to put your stuff? The more in the way, the longer it will take and more risk of getting damaged (from being moved or contaminated with dust).
- Do I want the wiring and accessories surface mounted or chased inside the walls?
Rewiring is labour intensive. Surface mounting cables and accessories will save on labour time and therefore costs. But, it doesn’t look anywhere near as nice. It doesn’t look too bad in some places (like running vertically up the corner of a wall for example), but if it’s everywhere; it will stand out like a sore thumb. Chasing wiring and accessories takes longer, makes mess and costs more for redecoration, but does look a lot neater when finished.
- Do I have any plans to change the kitchen?
The kitchen is the big one when it comes to planning a rewire. Why? Well, think of any other room in your house. Electrical requirements are – what, three sockets, a ceiling light and switch. Ok, a lot of people are asking for data points on rewires now, but you get my point. Now, the kitchen:
Cooker circuit – a dedicated circuit for a hob and oven. If it’s a really super-duper kitchen, you might even have two cooker circuits.
Socket circuit- With the number of appliances and socket outlets installed today, it’s common practice to install a socket circuit in the kitchen all for itself on a rewire.
Lighting – Are you having a lot of downlights? Well, some electricians install a circuit for the kitchen lights on a big install.
Heating – Due to the layout (with cabinets taking up a lot of wall space in some places) some kitchens don’t have much space for central heating radiators. So, plinth heaters can be used in these circumstances. If there are a couple of these. then there is another circuit. Another popular heating method (more so with insulted flooring) is underfloor heating.
Whilst it’s fresh in my mind, let me tell you about the electrical dependencies in a kitchen for a recently completed rewire:
One Induction hob. Two double ovens. Two plate warmers. One cooker hood extractor. One wall-mounted extractor fan. Under-cabinet lighting. Plinth lighting. Forty downlights. A grid switch assembly for the dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, fridge freezer, and wine chiller. Fifteen, double socket outlets.
Your kitchen might not sound anything like that. But I think you get my point about the planning required for a kitchen compared to any other room in your house when it comes to getting it rewired. If the kitchen is staying as it is then it’s common practice to run the cables in at a low level and route them through the void in the cabinets. This saves taking the wall cabinets down and damaging tiles.
- Are the electricians quoting registered and providing the relevant certification upon completion?
For crying out loud: make sure whoever you hire to rewire your home is registered with a trade body. You can check this yourself right now on the competent person register. Don’t be fooled into thinking you don’t need any certification. If you want to sell your home or have any challenges with your insurer: they will ask for it. Aside from that, don’t you want to know it has been completed to the necessary standards with the test results to prove it?
- How much of my belongings do I need to put in storage?
How much stuff have you got? Are you very frugal with purchases or a hoarder? The fewer possessions you have whilst the rewire takes place, the better. It’s as simple as that. The more you have in the way, the longer it will take (and therefore the price will be higher) and there is always the risk of things getting damaged. I’ve done rewires on two-bedroom houses with bugger all space where the owner has hired a long wheelbase van and put items in there. One rewire had a huge tent in the garden full of items. All watertight.
- How long is it likely to take?
Rewiring is a two (I almost said man then), person task. Whilst it’s hard to give a definitive time scale for you dear reader: your chosen electrician should give you an idea when they take a walk around your place. Some of the variables I can think of include:
The amount of stuff you have (including the loft). This is how the upstairs lights are rewired.
If you are going to live in the house whilst the rewiring takes place. I would advise you not to, but maybe you have no choice! See what they say about the matter.
What the upstairs flooring is made from. Old, wide floorboards are generally easier to lift and work with than the later solid sheet flooring (often glued and nailed!) in houses built from late 1990s onwards.
How many chases are necessary to flush-fit the wiring and accessories. High ceilings in older houses will take longer than a newer house with a floor-to-ceiling height of around 2400mm. Time can be saved by doing one chase that allows cabling to be installed for two sockets or light switches back-to-back.