If we own a house, there will come a time when we need to have some electrical work done. For some reason, the word ‘rewiring’ usually strikes fear into householders. They imagine huge bills and months of upheaval in the house as electricians rip up floorboards and knock the plaster off the walls.
Yes, rewiring a house is a serious job and only qualified electricians should attempt the work. But the mess and electrical rewiring costs need not be as bad as you imagine.
In this article, we will talk about what is involved in rewiring a house and what inspections your electrical system needs to be deemed safe. In short, if you are thinking of upgrading the electrics in your house then this is the article for you.
How Much Does It Cost To Rewire A House?
A rough estimate for rewiring a 3 bedroom house, costs on average somewhere between £2,500 and £4,500 depending on where you live in the country. In other words, the higher end will be in places like London and the Southeast where labour always demand a premium.
There are many factors that determine the average cost of rewiring a house.
- The house size will determine how much wiring is needed. Similarly, whether your home is a bungalow or a house; likewise, how many bedrooms it has; and the overall floor area all have a say. And consequently, if there is a lot of wiring to change, the labour charges increase too.
- The number of light fittings and socket outlets will also determine the amount of wiring needed. This also determines the amount of work needed to install the fittings. As light fittings go hand in hand with light switches, one will determine the amount of the other. Light switches, sockets and the wiring that feeds them can be either easy or difficult to fit depending on whether the walls are solid or hollow.
- Wall material has a lot to do with the amount of work involved and the amount of mess made when rewiring. Hollow walls made from stud partitions and plasterboard are often easier to work with than solid brick or block. Hollow walls allow the electrician to pull wiring through long runs of the wall cavity.
- Quality of fittings can vary the cost of a wiring job dramatically. You can either use the cheap white plastic light switches, sockets and bulb holders or use more expensive materials such as brass. Which type you use will depend on the décor in your house and your budget.
- Kitchens and Bathrooms need special wiring and fittings depending on what appliances you have. Bathrooms need special light switches so that wet hands do not come into contact with electricity. If you have an electric shower, it will need its own power feed directly from the distribution box. You may also have an electrically heated towel rail and an electric shaver point. Don’t forget that this applies to en-suite bathrooms as well as main ones. Rewiring a kitchen is probably one of the most labour intensive jobs. The kitchen needs the most electrical sockets of any room in the house, to serve all the electrical appliance found there. Furthermore, an electric oven and hob will need its own feed direct from the distributor box.
When should rewiring be done?
You don’t need your house rewired just because you feel like it. However, there are certain situations when it is essential.
- Extensions to your house need connecting electrically to the main distributor box. While you are hiring an electrician, why not have an electrical inspection on the remainder of the house to check everything is OK?
- House Remodelling such as knocking down walls and building new ones always requires new wiring connected to the original circuits.
- Old Wiring has got to go. Modern wiring regulations specify the components you can have in your electrical circuits and this is often different from the specifications used many years ago. Electricians follow the new regulations to ensure you have a safe installation.
House rewiring cost calculator breakdown
If you want to estimate how much to rewire a house, you must take into account the factors mentioned earlier. Every house is different but you can determine an average minimum cost.
|Type of Property||Minimum Estimated Cost||Duration|
|2 bedroom house||£2,000 to £3,000||5 to 8 days|
|3 bedroom house||£3,000 to £4,000||6 to 10 days|
|4 bedroom house||£4,000 to £5,000||10 to 14 days|
|5 bedroom house||£4,500 to £6,000||10 to 15 days|
|1 bedroom flat||£2,000||5 days|
|2 bedroom flat||£3,000||5 to 8 days|
|3 bedroom flat||£3,500||8 to 10 days|
Prices are approximate and inclusive of VAT at 20%. Remember that work in London and the Southeast is at a premium.
Notice that the cost of rewiring a flat is comparable to a similar sized house.
Note: Read our full electrician cost guide.
Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
As someone who not only owns your home but lives in it too, you need reassurance that everything electrical is as it should be. The Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR), carried out by a qualified electrician will tell you the condition of your installation and highlight items that do not comply with the IET Wiring Regulations. It also records the testing and any remedial work so that future tests are easier to do.
The costs of providing the EICR will depend on the size of your electrical installation.
|Type of Property||Electrical Condition Report|
|2 bedroom house||£150 to £180|
|3 bedroom house||£200 to £250|
|4 bedroom house||£200 to £250|
|5 bedroom house||£300 minimum|
|1 bedroom flat||£120|
|2 bedroom flat||£120 to £150|
|3 bedroom flat||£180 to £210|
Once again these prices are approximate and inclusive of VAT at 20%.
Signs that your house needs rewiring
There are some simple tell-tale signs that give hints as to the age of your electrical installation. If you have any of these in your home, you must call in a qualified electrician who will decide whether you need a full or a partial rewire.
- Electrical cables covered in black rubber, lead or fabric ceased to be used decades ago.
- Older round pin electrical sockets and circular light switches.
- Brown or black light switches.
- Power sockets mounted on skirting boards.
- Braided flex on pendant lights.
- Light switches in bathrooms.
- Black scorch marks or a burning odour around light switches and power sockets.
- An old fuse box with a wooden mounting board, cast iron switches or made up of a mixture of fuse boxes.
In addition to these, electrical fittings may become damaged or be out of date and no longer comply. So, ask an electrician to check their condition at least every ten years and when you move into a new house.
Redoing Electrics in Wet Areas
Notifiable work, i.e. electrical in a bathroom or any room where there is water nearby must comply with special rules. Fittings in notifiable areas must by law have a Building Regulations Compliance Certificate. Electrical lights in a notifiable area must be sealed, light switches and electrical sockets must be at least a certain distance from the water. Check with your local building control office or a qualified Part P electrician for the actual distances as these may vary with changes in legislation.
Electrical house wiring practices
A rewire includes the replacement of all electrical wiring and fittings that do not comply with the latest legislation (IET Wiring Regulations). This can only be done after an inspection and subsequent issue of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). Only a Part P registered electrician can issue these.
Subject to the EICR, a rewire includes the following:
- Replacing out of date fuse boxes and consumer units.
- Install PVC covered wire with the correct colour coding.
- Install new switches, sockets, fixtures and fittings.
- If necessary, replace the electric meter.
- Inspect the new installation.
- Issue approved installation certificate.
House rewiring does not necessarily require all the old wiring to be removed as it could be buried within walls or floors. But it does require that the old wiring is disconnected from the supply so it cannot be inadvertently used. This usually means cutting free ends of old wiring so it cannot be reconnected.
Wiring Materials Required
The commonest wiring material is copper covered with PVC. However, aluminium is also an option but is less conductive than copper.
Light switch and wall socket faceplates are usually made from uPVC or a thermoplastic but can be made from brass, aluminium or stainless steel if needed to match with the room décor. Remember that metals conduct electricity so they will have to be properly installed and earthed whereas plastic covers will not.
In addition to the wiring, typical components used in a rewire include:
- Junction boxes.
- Light switches and fittings.
- Wall socket covers.
- Cooker and shower switches.
- Bathroom pull light switches.
- Galvanised metal back boxes.
Other Common Jobs Electricians Can Do
Electricians aren’t only there for rewiring your house. They are qualified to do any other small domestic electrical work such as:
- Replacing old-style fuse boxes with consumer units will cost from £250 to £450 and take a maximum of half a day unless other non-compliances are found.
- Replacing an electrical socket, light switch or light fitting will set you back from £25 to £50 per item and take less than an hour.
- Installing outdoor motion sensors and lights will cost between £100 and £200 and take anything from 2 to 4 hours depending on the number and type of lights.
- To replace a light fixture will be from £30 to £40 each and take about an hour.
- Inspecting the condition of your electrical system will be between £120 and £300.
- Upgrading kitchen lights to LEDs will be £40 to £50 depending on the type.
House Rewiring FAQ Section
How often should you rewire a house?
You only need to have the house rewired when a qualified electrician has inspected it and told you it needs to be done. Have the inspection done when you notice something wrong, on change of ownership or at least every 10 years (more often as the house gets older). As a general rule of thumb, as long as the wiring is covered with PVC, you have a circuit breaker consumer unit and the gas and water pipes are bonded then everything should be OK. If in doubt, have it checked.
Do you need to rewire a house to sell it?
No, you don’t. But it helps the saleability if you upgrade the fusebox to a circuit breaker consumer unit. However, IET Wiring Regulations recommend that you have the electrical system inspected at least every 10 years or on a change of ownership. An inspection can only be done by an ECA or NICEIC approved electrician.
Are there any rewiring regulations I should be aware of?
Can I rewire a house myself (DIY)?
You cannot rewire a house unless you are a certified electrician. According to the Building Regulations Part P, you can do certain jobs such as replacing light fittings and electrical sockets, and minor repairs. Electrical work in bathrooms, kitchens and where water is present is considered to be notifiable. In other words, it can only be done by an electrician and must be inspected before use by a building control officer or be self-certified by a qualified Part P electrician.
What should I ask before hiring an electrician?
Ask whether the electrician is ‘Part P registered’. He or she must be qualified in both domestic wiring regulations and building regulations related to domestic installations. They must also hold at least £2 million in public liability insurance. And, they will have a registration number which can be verified online. They are also monitored by their governing body. A Part P electrician will be a member of NICEIC or ECA.
What is an electrician’s typical day rate?
Electricians usually charge by the hour, although if the job is a long one, they will charge a fixed price. The average hourly rate is between £40 and £60 per hour, but you might find that they have a minimum fee of one hour. Above all, the rates will vary depending on where you are in the country, with London and the Southeast being the most expensive areas.
Get quotes from reliable electricians
The cost of rewiring a house will only be reasonable if you get three quotes from different electrical contractors. Furthermore, the contractors must be qualified to carry out work to comply with the Building Regulations Part P. and, you will find that these registered electrical contractors are members of the NICEIC or ECA. Don’t automatically go for the cheapest quotation, examine each one to see what is included. You might find that a more expensive quote includes repairing damaged plaster.