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If you are lucky, you could live in a property for years without having to worry about utilities like electricity. Unfortunately electrical wiring and circuits will inevitably break down over time, even in the most modern property. When this happens, something as simple as a faulty plug can become a serious hazard, risking blown fuses, electric shocks or even house fires.

When a property’s electricals have become antiquated or damaged, or when the property is undergoing a significant alteration such as a conversion or extension, an electrical rewiring service will usually be required. This can be disruptive work, but it should always be treated as a necessary expense. Many homebuyers will even demand that an older property be rewired as a condition for their purchase.

It should go without saying that any rewiring work should only ever be done by a qualified local electrician. Trying to save money by hiring an unqualified Pro is virtually guaranteed to lead to more expensive problems down the line, or even personal injury.

Your electrician will likely request a site visit in order to inspect your property and compose an accurate quote. Even so, it will be a good idea to collect multiple quotes if possible, as this will help you to get a competitive and fair price for the work.

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Do I need to rewire my house?

To start off, we will admit that just because the wiring in a property is a few years old does not necessarily mean that the building needs to be rewired. What does matter is whether the wiring meets the safety standards set by Building Regulations. If your wiring does not meet these standards, you should make rewiring your property a priority.

It is always best to be sure; in fact, a responsible renter or homebuyer will always enquire about the quality of a property’s wiring before moving in, especially if the building is several decades old. The current owner should be able to offer an ‘Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)', a document which will explain the condition of the property’s electricals and highlight any areas where more work needs to be done.

Generally speaking it is recommended that a new EICR is created:

  • Every 10 years for an owner-occupied home
  • Every 5 years for a rented home
  • Every 3 years for a caravan
  • Every year for a swimming pool

An EICR can also be required when a property is being prepared for sale or letting, or when serious damage has been done to a property by events such as house fires or floods. 

Certain home improvement projects can also require an EICR. For example, a two storey home extension would put additional pressure on an existing property’s system. An EICR may reveal reveal that the project will require the installation of a new fuse box/ consumer unit: an annoying additional expense to be sure, but a vital one for ensuring the safety of the property.

Regardless, an EICR will provide a clear answer to the question of whether or not your property needs to be rewired. It is fundamental that you have the report handled by a qualified local electrician. This is not just a matter of benefitting from their qualifications and experience; an EICR written by someone without the proper qualifications is virtually guaranteed to be dismissed as invalid.

Even without an EICR, there are other signs which can indicate whether or not a property needs to be rewired. If a property is over 25 years old and still has its original wiring, it will likely need to be updated in order to meet modern standards. You can also watch out for features like old fashioned fuse boxes (with ceramic fuses), round pin sockets, dolly switches or cabling that still uses old colours. Any of these signs could indicate unsafe antiquated wiring.

Rewiring for an extension or conversion

Another instance where a property will usually need to be rewired is during major home improvement work. Significant alterations to your property, such as turning a loft into living space or adding an extension, will put more demand on your electrical system. This can often require either rewiring or the installation of a new consumer unit.

Remember, during a project like this the work will be assessed by a local building inspector to make sure that it complies with Building Regulations. If your wiring is inadequate, the project could be shut down or you could even be forced to undo your work.

Rewiring a property

When booking a rewiring service, it is important to plan carefully. The work will likely involve taking apart sections of your property (to get to the wiring, your electrician may need to lift floorboards, go behind walls, cut through ceilings and so on). Naturally, this also means that your property will need to be prepared by the time your electrician arrives, with furniture moved out of the way and plenty of space for them to do their work.

There are two things to keep in mind here: firstly, it is not your electrician’s job to make sure that your home is cleared and ready for rewiring work. If they turn up and you have not done anything to move your furniture or give them room to work, you will only end up wasting time and money.

Secondly, this kind of work creates a great deal of disruption and will usually take several days, depending on the size of your property. As such, it can be a good idea to temporarily live elsewhere if possible. The alternative is to have your electrician work around you, going room-by-room as you simply move out of the way whenever necessary. However, this option will usually drag the work out, which will be more expensive for you.

Whatever you decide to do, be sure to cover up any furniture or valuables in your property. If you do not have room to move them out of the way, you may even want to consider a short term storage solution.

Before the work gets started, it will be important to have a accurate plan of all of your property’s electrical features (or rather, where they will be once the rewiring is complete). This should include the location of:

  • Sockets
  • Switches
  • Dimmers 
  • Smoke or burglar alarms
  • Ethernet ports
  • Integrated speakers

The best time to install any new electrical features is during a property rewiring, before the walls have been re-plastered and decorated. Trying to add features like bedside lighting further along in a project like this can more disruptive, not to mention expensive.

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How much does rewiring cost?

The cost of a property rewiring service will depend on the size of the job. Roughly speaking, rewiring a 3 bedroom semi detached house could cost around £3500, while rewiring for a single storey kitchen extension could cost as little as £1,000.

Other important factors include:

  • Size of property
  • Level of access
  • Is the property empty?
  • Standard of finish

In order to give you an accurate quote, your electrician will likely need to arrange a site visit. Even so, be sure to collect multiple quotes to compare if you want to get a competitive deal.