It seems like a fairly straightforward and basic question that can be quickly answered: How much does it cost to rewire a house? The answer ranges from around $8,000 to more than $30,000. That rather wide range is due to a plethora of factors. Once you begin to research the cost of the materials, time and labor required to rewire a home, you begin to realize that there is more than meets the wall socket when it comes to this complex home project.
From the age of the home to the ease of access to the wires to the size of the home and any construction quirks that you may have yet to uncover as you work on the old wiring, there are many things to consider before putting down any money on a rewiring job. Know what you are getting into before you tackle this job yourself or hire a professional electrician.
How to Hire a Professional
Electrical work can be dangerous. If you are even slightly unsure about taking on a rewiring project either for the whole house or just a few fixtures in a single room, then you should seriously consider hiring a professional. The National Electrical Contractors Association will have a list of verified contractors in your area.
Cross reference any electricians you plan to hire. Check with the Better Business Bureau, which will have the electrical contractor's license number. Make sure the electrical contractor is fully bonded and insured.
While you may have successfully rewired an outlet yourself, replaced a light fixture or completed some other minor electrical work around the home, rewiring an entire home is a substantial job. A professional can complete this within a week depending on the size of the home and other factors, while a weekend warrior may need a month or more.
Electrician Prices List
An electrician prices list should include:
- Upgrades that may be needed, including data cables or heavy-duty electrical
- Cost to run wire or cut drywall every few feet depending on the construction
- Materials, including outlets and switches as well as wiring
A fairly good estimate is to expect to be charged for one hour per 100 square feet. Add material costs, which can run between $6 and $10 a square foot, not including the wire itself. Any outlets or switches that need to be replaced or added can run around $100 to $185 each.
Cost to Rewire a House
Generally, the cost to rewire a home of about 1,500 square feet is roughly $8,000 if you hire a professional and the job is straightforward with no unforeseen issues. A soft estimate of $200 per square foot can help you to ballpark a figure. When it comes to rewiring a home, don't expect to have a hard estimate to which you can stick.
The cost to rewire a house can depend on a few factors, including:
- The materials used to replace old wiring
- The age and condition of the outlets, switches or lighting fixtures and if they
need to be replaced along with the wiring
- If the wiring can be easily accessed either via a crawlspace or by cutting
- The size of the home and any later added-on rooms, which may have different
- Any upgrades that require additional amps to be provided to the home system
Rewiring Cost Calculator
The materials to rewire a home can begin at around $400 to $1,000 depending on the cost of copper wire. An electrician may charge between $65 and $130 per outlet, fixture or switch on which he has to work. If upgrades are required, such as moving from 100 to 200 amps, that will tack on hundreds if not thousands of dollars to the rewiring budget.
A rewiring cost calculator can help you find a relatively close figure for your electrical needs.
Major Cost Issues
A few unavoidable things can tack on more rewiring expenses. If you have a crawl space of at least 18 inches for the electrician to easily access the wiring, as well as an accessible attic, your cost will be less.
If your home sits on a concrete slab, the electrician may need to cut additional holes in the drywall to access the wiring. These holes will be about 2 feet above the floor line. You may need to pay additional costs to have the drywall repaired. The drywall repair can take up to a quarter of the entire estimate if the electrician includes it.
Best Time to Rewire a Home
If you can, it may be best to have the rewiring done when you are on vacation or otherwise away from the home. This makes it easier on the electrician, who can turn off power, access wiring without asking permission or having to ask residents to remove themselves from the room and otherwise do the job without interruption from the homeowner's daily doings.
If you have just bought a home and want to upgrade the wiring or add fixtures, it is best to have the electrical work completed before you move in.
When to Rewire a Home
A home that is more than four decades old should have its wiring checked. More than likely, it will need to be upgraded. This may seem like an expensive endeavor; however, it may also save you some cash in utility bills.
Rewiring an older home will also significantly increase its resale value. A home that was built before the 1950s may have knob and tube wiring that requires professional attention. This can be expensive.
If you are planning any remodeling, then consider upgrading or switching out electrical fixtures during this time. The work being done to remodel more than likely includes opening walls, which gives an electrician easy access, which in turn saves you labor costs. This is also a good time to check that your wiring is in good working order.
DIY Considerations for Rewiring
If you have a background in electrical wiring and feel confident that you can complete the job yourself, then there are a few things to consider before tackling this big project.
- Complete an inventory. Wiring carries more than
electricity. Make a list of all that you need your home to do, from the amount
of computers in each room that need a hard line to the number of data lines
each room may need. Do you plan to install an alarm or have enough outlets for
all your small and large appliances in the kitchen and/or bathrooms?
- Create a calendar. Make a list of all you need to do, when it should be completed and what you need to buy and when. Buy extra of all you need to cut down on trips to the hardware store or days waiting for a shipment to arrive.
Put Permits in Place
Before beginning a rewiring project, make sure you have the proper building permits in place. The wiring will also need to be inspected at specific stages of the project to meet the National Electrical Code. You more than likely have local building regulations with which to contend as well, which makes hiring a professional worth it for those who prefer not to mess with the paperwork.
Permits can start at $250 and can run up to $500. Make sure to check with your local government office to find out exactly what types of permits you will need before you begin your rewiring project.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.