Electrical rewiring a house is one of those tasks that you shouldn’t consider lightly. Don’t do it just because it’s cool or you think you need a change of light fittings. It’s a major project and causes a huge amount of upheaval in the house. Ultimately, the cost of rewiring a house depends on its size, construction material and age. Having said that, a typical price for a 3 bedroom terraced house in the UK will be about £3500 to £5000. Usually, a project of this scale will take between 6 to10 days, and that’s assuming you’ve removed the bulky furniture and fitted carpets throughout the house.
To be honest, the only reason for rewiring a house must be because the system is unsafe or damaged and no longer complies with the legislation. By the way, there’s one more condition. In the UK, it’s only legal if a fully qualified electrician does this kind of work.
How much does it cost to rewire a house?
The table below highlights the price to rewire a house and the estimated timescale. However, remember that all prices and durations are approximate. And, quotes from qualified electricians will vary throughout the country. Furthermore, labour charges in London and the Southeast will be higher than elsewhere in the country. So, use the table as a guideline only.
|House Rewiring Job||Estimated Time||Average Cost|
|Rewiring a 2 bedroom flat||5 to 7 days||£3000|
|Rewiring a 2 bedroom house||6 to 10 days||£3000 to £4000|
|Rewiring a 3 bedroom semi-detached house||10 to 14 days||£4000 to £5000|
|Rewiring a 4 bedroom detached house||12 to 15 days||£4500 to £6500|
You can find a few house rewiring cost calculators online. But, in our experience, the best way to get advice on how much it’ll cost to rewire your house, is to ask an electrician to visit and look at your particular circumstances. Once you’ve read this article, you can complete the form on the top of this page and make contact with electricians who have already been vetted for appropriate skills.
Rewiring a flat
As you might expect, a flat is the cheapest property to rewire because it’s the smallest. Therefore, it needs fewer materials and less labour. However, in certain circumstances, wiring a flat might be more complicated, as your wiring might only be accessible from the flat above or below you. That means you can only access it from someone else’s property. Let’s hope yours isn’t in this category.
The rewiring cost of a two-bedroom flat will start around £2500 and extend to just over £3000 depending on the size of the property, the number of rooms and the accessibility of the electrical circuit. And, the duration will be from 5 to 7 days. On the other hand, a one-bedroom flat will be correspondingly smaller and take less time to rewire, probably between 3 to 6 days. The cost will start at about £1000, going up to about £1800.
Rewiring a house
Rewiring different sized houses is a matter of scaling up the costs and duration depending on how many rooms and fittings each one has. For example, a small terrace house with two bedrooms will cost between £3000 and £4000. Of this, the cost of materials will be about £1500. This size house will take on average about 8 days to complete.
A medium-sized 3 bedroom semi-detached house needs materials costing about £1300. Furthermore, the time taken for the job extends from 10 to 14 days. So, the total cost will be on average about £4500.
A detached 4 bedroom property will take up to 2 weeks to completely rewire and cost an average of about £5500. Of course, a house this size won’t only have more bedrooms. It will also have more living rooms and possibly a utility room. This will increase the total cost considerably.
House Rewiring Cost Factors
Of course, these figures are averages of the duration and material cost. The actual rewiring costs will vary depending on several factors.
The amount of labour needed to do the job takes up the largest fraction of the total cost. So it makes sense that the size and complexity of your domestic electrical system is one of the biggest factors.
Another big chunk will be the cost of wiring, switches, sockets and light fittings. The prices of these vary depending on the quality of the manufacturing materials. For example, the cheapest electrical fittings are those made from white plastic, that you normally see in the average household. Wall sockets, light switches and lamp sockets come in 2 or 3 different styles, but they’re all made from the same standard white plastic. Alternatively, you can pay more and have different coloured plastic, brass, chrome or stainless steel fittings. If you choose this route, make sure you keep an eye on the budget as your expenditure might soon get out of hand.
Basic quality white plastic fittings for a 2 bedroom terraced house will cost about £800 to £1000. However, for the same property, using better quality fittings, the cost will be more like a minimum of £1500.
Bathrooms and Kitchens
Kitchens need more power sockets than other rooms in the house and will need a separate heavy-duty supply cable for a cooker point. In the UK, it’s uncommon to have laundry rooms. So, other additional features include sockets below the worktop level for a washing machine and dishwasher, with isolation switches for these situated above the worktop.
Bathrooms also need a heavy-duty circuit if you have an electric shower. You might also need a shaver point supplying a lower electrical current than normal.
Usually, both kitchens and bathrooms have water supplies near to electrical outputs and these must comply with stricter Building Regulations compared to the rest of the house. For example, electrical switches in bathrooms must be controlled by a pull cord or from a switch outside the room. Similarly, electrical switches in a kitchen must be at the appropriate distance from a sink to avoid water splashes.
Conduit and trunking
To comply with the regulations, electrical cables must be protected against accidental damage. There are a few ways to do this. If the walls are hollow timber-frame plasterboard construction, the wiring can be fitted within the wall before the final plasterboard goes up. If the walls are made from solid masonry, the electrician must cut grooves into the walls to hide electrical cables. This is called ‘chasing’. The cables need protection from corrosive plaster so tack plastic conduit within the chase and pull the cables through those. The conduit is then covered in plaster and smoothed over to completely hide the installation.
If the walls are solid stone or timber and need to remain undamaged for aesthetic reasons, hide the cables within trunking, fixed onto the wall’s surface. Surface-mounted trunking has a clip-on ‘lid’ to hide the cable.
White plastic trunking costs from £3 to £5 per 3m length while conduit costs between £1 and £3 per 3m length. Prices for these will vary depending on width and style. And, many tradesmen have preferential discounts from suppliers, so might buy this even cheaper.
Rewiring a property will always produce waste. An electrician will try to reuse conduit that’s fitted below the wall’s surface. But, sometimes this isn’t possible. In this case, he will have to chase out the wall to remove the old wiring and replace with new. This will produce masonry rubble and plastic waste. It will also create waste copper fittings and cable, but this is valuable and will be recycled.
Usually, a rewire will create only a small amount of waste, and the electrician can often remove this in waste bags. However, if there’s a lot of waste, you will have to hire a small skip. These cost in the region of £150 for a week depending on the size.
When rewiring, many people take the opportunity to fit external lighting and power points. The cost of this will depend on how far from the house the extra circuit will go, as well as it’s complexity. If external wiring needs replacing, you might have to dig trenches and cut down mature plants to access the external trucking.
Sometimes, during a rewiring job, you might want to install burglar alarms, smoke alarms and CCTV cameras. You might even want an electronic lock on the driveway gates or an electric garage door. Most of these fall within an electrician’s skills. But, some might require a specialist installer.
Outdoor security lights cost between £30 and £70 each, while the cheapest CCTV cameras cost about £20. Burglar alarms cost around £100 but will need a specialist, who costs between £150 and £200 per day to install the alarms.
Electrician Day Rates
An electrician’s day rate depends on where you live in the country and the experience of the electrician. Usually, the most expensive labour rates occur within London and Southeast England. The difference between there and the rest of the country can be as much as 20%.
Having said that, a typical electrician will charge about £45 per hour, with an electrician’s labourer charging between £15 and £20 per hour.
Electrical Standards & Regulations
Electricity can be dangerous if the components and installation methods don’t comply with appropriate standards and regulations.
First, electricians must pass a Level 3 NVQ in “Electrotechnical Services” or Level 3 NVQ in “Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment”. They will usually have completed a recognised apprenticeship and also have experience in the industry before they can call themselves a competent person.
Next, all electrical components used in the UK must comply with appropriate British Standards to ensure safety.
Also, Part P of the UK Building Regulations covers the installation and changes made to electrical installations in a domestic setting. Under the rules, electrical installation work must be notified to the local building control office or must be carried out by a Part P registered electrician. Furthermore, several trade bodies in the UK regulate electrical contractors. And, membership of these bodies indicates that they are competent electricians.
Look out for:
- ECA. The Electrical Contractors Association represents electrical designers, contractors and customers.
- ELECSA. Electricians belonging to this association have an assessment annually to ensure their work complies with IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671 and others.
- NICEIC. The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting provides inspection and training services for qualified electricians.
Electrical Installation Condition Report
The EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) identifies damage and defects in the condition of electrical components and systems. The report requires testing of the various circuits within the home, to determine whether the equipment is safe to use. This report tells the electrician whether your home needs rewiring or not. Normally, you must have the inspection done at least every 10 years if yours is a private dwelling. If it’s a rented property then the inspection must be every 5 years. Having said that, it must also be done when the property changes occupancy or you sell it.
Having an EICR doesn’t mean you must have your property rewired. Instead, it tells you whether your property is electrically safe and whether you need a rewire. If the recommendation says that you need a rewire, you must have one or your house won’t be fit for occupation and its insurance will be void. The EICR costs vary depending on the size of the property and will be in addition to the cost of the rewire. Finally, only a Part P electrician can test and issue an EICR.
Typically, for a flat, the cost of an EICR will be between £100 and £250. Whereas, a house will range from £150 to more than £350 depending on size and the age of the electrical system.
What does a rewire involve?
- First, you must have an EICR to identify any parts of the domestic electrical circuit that don’t comply with the regulations. The inspection and report look at:
- The condition of all switches, power sockets, light fixtures and wiring. The cable must be PVC sheathed and of the correct colour coding.
- How suitable the domestic fuse boxes and consumer units are.
- Load testing of individual circuits.
- Earthing and bonding.
- Wear and tear of the components.
- Testing circuit breakers.
- Check installation polarity.
- Depending on the findings, the electrician will remove and replace each faulty component with new.
- Replace any cables, ring mains or spurs going back to the distribution board. Make good any surface damage to walls, ceilings etc. If it’s very difficult to remove old wiring from behind walls, the electrician can leave it in place so long as the cable has been disconnected from each component and cut shorter so that it can’t be reconnected.
- Change and update the fusebox or consumer unit.
- Replace out of date or damaged fittings.
- Bond all metal fixings such as central heating and domestic water pipes.
Let’s look at the different components used in a rewire:
- Usually, the commonest cables used in a domestic setting are copper covered with colour-coded PVC sheathing. Sometimes aluminium is used in place of the copper, but this isn’t very common.
- Usually, light switches and wall sockets are made from uPVC or another thermoplastic. But, can also be made from other materials to match the décor of your room. Common, but more expensive materials include brass, chrome, or stainless steel. However, metal, unlike plastic, conducts electricity. So, the electrician must bond the front plates to earth to prevent electrocution.
- Junction boxes are plastic boxes with electrical connectors inside. These are used to connect lengths of cable.
- Cooker and electric shower switches are different from usual components. Cookers have an independent circuit back to the consumer unit and uses 6mm twin and earth cable rated for 45 Amps with a 32 Amp circuit breaker. Electric showers also have an independent circuit with high current cable directly from the consumer unit.
- Bathroom light pull switches. These prevent wet hands from coming in contact with potentially electrically live surfaces.
- Galvanised metal back boxes. These are inset into masonry walls to protect the back of the switch or socket cover from damage and from damp.
Hiring an Electrician – Top Tips
It’s your responsibility to ensure that only a qualified electrician works on your house. A Part P electrician will adhere to the regulations and be able to sign off the work as complying to the Building Regulations.
So, you must find out if your electrician has the necessary qualifications.
- Ask about previous work. Ask for references and follow them up. Then, you can find out if they worked professionally and if everything went well.
- What qualifications do they have? To produce safe work in the home, they must comply with Part P of the UK Building Regulations. It’s preferable if the electrician can self certify the work. Therefore, he should be classed as a competent person and be a member of a recognised competent person’s scheme. Relevant schemes include BSI, NAPIT, STROMA, ELECSA, NICEIC, SELECT and Trustmark. Your local council will also have a list of competent tradesmen in your area. Following legislation, in Parliament, the Registered Competent Person Electrical register went live in July 2014. This register combines all the competent person information from the independent trade bodies.
- Before hiring an electrician, make sure you receive a quote from them specifying the price they charge and a breakdown of the work you receive for the price.
- Don’t automatically choose the cheapest quote. Usually, all the quotes will be approximately the same. Unless, the electrician is so good that he is stacked out with work, and can afford to charge more than usual. Therefore, if you see one that looks way too cheap, you know that something is wrong.
- Make sure the electrician can issue a certificate for the work done at the end of the job. If they can’t then you know to stay clear of them.
Rewiring a House Q&A
Can you rewire a house without removing walls?
Yes. Often, considerate electricians leave a drawstring in a conduit and alongside a cable to make it easy for future tradesmen to replace the cables. Otherwise, use the existing cables as the drawstring. Alternatively, disconnect the existing cable at both ends and remove a few centimetres of wire so it cannot be reconnected. Then replace the new cable somewhere else that’s more convenient.
Are old fuse boxes illegal?
The only two requirements for a safe fusebox are that the component meets the legal regulations at the time it was installed. And, that it is electrically safe. Otherwise, the old unit must be replaced with a modern circuit breaker distribution box.
How disruptive is rewiring a house?
Rewiring is always disruptive. The messiest part is during the ‘first fix’. That means, removal of old wiring and replacing with new. The ‘second fix’ is less disruptive. This section involves fitting the switches and sockets, joining everything up, making the circuit live and final testing.
How often should you rewire a house?
Domestic properties need an EICR at least every 10 years. If the property is a commercial rental, then it must be 5 years. Furthermore, it must also be done when the property changes occupant. You might not need a rewire. But, based on the results of the EICR, the electrician will know whether everything meets the regulations. Having said this, electrical regulations and standards changed significantly between the 1950s, and 1970s, which resulted in safer domestic electrical standards. So, it’s very common for at least one or two things to require replacement in houses built in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Furthermore, the standards continue to improve as better technology becomes available, so there will usually be something to replace.
How do you know if the house needs rewiring?
Only a professional electrician will know for certain if your home needs rewiring, based on information from the EICR inspection. However, the average householder can keep their eyes open for certain signs that it’s time to call in a professional. Look out for these and more.
- Flickering and dimming lights.
- Fuses and lightbulbs blowing more often than expected.
- Sparking switches and sockets.
- Discoloured (burnt) switches and sockets.
- A burning smell.
- Power fluctuations.
Find a qualified electrician
DIY electrical work in your home is something we don’t recommend. Therefore, always use a qualified Part P electrician and receive a certificate to show your insurance company at the job’s completion.
It can be difficult to find an experienced and reputable electrician, so let us do the donkey work for you. If you want a quote for the cost to rewire your house, complete the form on this page and you’ll receive 3 or 4 replies from electrical contractors near you.