Updating the wiring in a house could cost between $6 and $10 per square foot, but keeping old wiring could have disastrous consequences. Electrical issues are the third most common cause of house fires in the United States.
Modern technology also may demand rewiring a house. Powering multiple electronic devices, having adequate interior and exterior lighting, and heating and cooling a home to today’s standards are difficult if a home’s electrical system is not up to the task.
What Is Rewiring Your Home?
Rewiring a home involves removing the outdated wiring inside a home’s walls and installing new, modern wiring that can safely meet today’s electrical needs.
Rewiring is typically done by a licensed electrician who strips out the old wiring and runs new wiring throughout the entire house, installs a new circuit breaker panel to handle the load of the new wiring system, and ensures that building codes are met.
In the past, families may have needed only one or two outlets per room because there were fewer electric items used. Now, homeowners use outlets for phone chargers, routers, computers, TVs, video game consoles, and speaker systems — not to mention kitchen gadgets that have come into common use over the years.
All of these modern electronics can overload older electrical wiring.
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When Do You Need to Rewire Your Home?
Flickering lights, outlets making a popping sound, or tripped breakers indicate that a home might need to be rewired. When buying an older home, a home inspection typically reveals if rewiring is recommended or necessary.
Even before a professional inspection, prospective homebuyers may be able to get a good idea of how the home is wired by peeking into the attic, basement, or crawl space.
Vintage charm does not extend to knob and tube wiring, which was common through the mid-1900s. The lack of a ground wire is seen as a significant fire hazard, and most carriers will deny homeowners insurance for a home that has knob and tube electrical wiring.
Another way to check for outdated wiring is to find the electrical panel and see if it has modern breaker switches or round fuses. The fuses indicate that the system is outdated, and rewiring the house might be recommended.
In almost every state, home sellers must disclose defects, but cautious buyers may still want to include the inspection contingency in the purchase contract.
If you’re living in a home with older wiring and notice that your circuit breakers trip often, lights flicker, the light switches feel warm to the touch, or there is a burning smell coming from an outlet, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an electrician.
How Much Does It Cost To Rewire a House?
The cost of rewiring a house depends on square footage and how easy or difficult it is to access the space, but on average it could cost between $6 and $10 a square foot, including labor and materials.
Some sources put the cost at just $2 to $4 per square foot for labor and materials. In any case, ask what a bid includes. Does it include the finishing work, permits, inspections, and new outlets and switches?
Rewiring an older home can cost upward of $30,000 because the wiring might be more difficult to access, the panel and other components may need to be upgraded, and the job just might be more involved overall.
So this is not a small expense. Options to pay the tab are cash or a withdrawal from your emergency fund, if you have one.
Others include a personal loan, a home equity line of credit, and a home equity loan.
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Can You Rewire a House Without Removing Drywall?
If a professional has access to a basement, attic, or crawl space, a house may be able to be rewired without removing much, if any, drywall or plaster. Having access to the blueprint of the house will help.
To rewire without removing drywall, the usual process is to cut openings at the tops or bottoms of the walls for the wiring to be pulled through. Another way is to cut a section of drywall around the perimeter of the room to make it easier to access the studs.
Is It Worth It to Rewire a House?
Although rewiring might seem cost-prohibitive when buying a single-family home, owners of older homes with outdated wiring systems may find that the cost to rewire a house can be money well spent.
Replacing outdated wiring can help prevent a house fire and add value to the property. Plus, insurance may mandate upgrades. Updated, energy-efficient fixtures like recessed lighting are sometimes included in a remodeling job of this scope and can potentially lower utility costs.
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How Long Does It Take to Rewire a House?
The amount of time it takes to rewire a house can vary based on the electrician’s work schedule, the size of the house, and any problems encountered during the process, but on average it takes three to 10 days to rewire a home.
You may consider staying with family members or a friend or at a hotel as rewiring a home likely will disrupt your living space for that time.
Also, because one or more electricians will be cutting into your walls (and potentially ceilings and floors, too), you may need to budget additional money for patches, paint, and other repair work.
The cost to rewire a house may seem high, but adequate electrical panels and modern wiring can amp up your home value and prevent fires.
Wondering how you’re going to pay for it all? An unsecured personal loan is one way to pay for the average cost to rewire a house. Home improvement loans from SoFi have competitive interest rates with fixed payments and no fees required. No collateral is needed, so there’s no need to have a certain amount of home equity to be considered when applying.
How much does it cost to rewire a 1,500-square-foot house?
It could cost from $9,000 to $15,000 to rewire that size house, according to some estimates, but others put the cost much lower. In any case, the age of the home and other factors influence the total cost.
Does a 1950s house need rewiring?
If a 1950s home has the original wiring, it most likely needs to be updated, at least in part.
Having changed out a fuse box to a breaker panel is nearly a must when selling a 1950s house. Cloth-covered wiring and ungrounded outlets also may keep the house from passing an inspection.
What are the signs that a house needs rewiring?
Here are some signs: circuit breakers that trip regularly, slight shocks from switches and outlets, and flickering or dimming lights.
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