A house is built of many things – foundation, plumbing, framing, wiring, and HVAC. These are some of the most crucial elements of the house. Get any one of these wrong and you can spend a hefty sum in redoing the same. Some can even have disastrous consequences. Without a strong foundation, a house won’t stand its ground. Faulty plumbing can cause leakage and faulty wiring can be a grave fire hazard or lead to electrocution and related injuries, in some cases lethal ones. We’ll cover the importance and the ins and outs of electrical wiring in this article.
When it comes to electronics, the topic always covered in the building regulations. It does not come into force for existing wiring, however, as it’s only applicable for rewiring or any significant changes to the home. Also, if you are purchasing a house which is over 25 years old, it is better to see that the wiring is up to date. Even if you own the property and are remodelling or renovating, make sure you get your wiring and electrical installation done before you move on to the aesthetic components. It is better to have it done and the walls sealed before you start doing them up.
First things first, how to know when does your house require rewiring? How to identify if the property has already been rewired? And what do you do if it hasn’t been? The second important part is to know what precautions you should take before the rewiring starts. And lastly, what would the rewiring cost? And where to find the right electrician?
WHEN DOES YOUR HOUSE REQUIRE REWIRING?
– If your property has not been rewired for the past two decades, chances are you will have to get your property rewired if not entirely, at least in part, to bring it up to speed and meet the requirements of modern electronics.
– If you are planning on doing some heavy duty renovations which entail material alterations, then as per the building regulations, you will have to rewire the house, and upgrade the fuse box.
– If you are extending your home or converting a space such as a garage or an attic into another room, you will have to get the rewiring done satisfactorily to meet the requirements of the building code. Also, the existing wiring will have to be upgraded to bear the load of the new additions.
HOW TO IDENTIFY IF THE PROPERTY HAS ALREADY BEEN REWIRED?
– It is always good to get an expert to do a thorough check to see if the wiring is up-to-date, but there are some telltale signs which in all likelihood would indicate that the property may need a revamp.
– Old-fashioned fuse boxes, white ceramic-style fuses, old round pin sockets and dolly switches are all signs that the electric work of the property is outdated and needs to be brought up to speed to prevent a potential fire hazard or any electrocutions.
– Sometimes part of the house is rewired and the other part isn’t. In these cases,you will see a mix-match of different sockets, switch styles and wire mountings.
– As per the latest standard, current wiring uses PVCu to cover live wires in white or grey and an up-to-date fuse box will have circuit breakers and residual circuit devices (RCDs). So, even if the property is old, but you see that these are in place, it means that the property has been rewired.
WHAT TO DO IF IT HASN’T BEEN REWIRED?
– If you see that the material is dated; for instance, you see a rubber, fabric or lead wire casing, it means that it will have to be replaced with the modern PVCu one.
– Older PVCu wires may need replacing if they are not twin earthing cables.
– In case of any doubt, it is better to get a professional to look at it and give you the exact scope of work and the budget for it.
PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE BEFORE REWIRING BEGINS
Plan well – Rewiring a property can be a disruptive, time-consuming affair. It happens in two phases, first when the wires are installed and second when all the elements – the socket, switches and the wires are connected to make it live. The wires go everywhere, under the floor, across the ceiling, through the walls etc.. It is better to get it done before you set your house up. Also plan where each element goes, so that you can plan for the sockets and the connections accordingly. New additions are expensive and time-consuming.
Future Proofing – Today we live in smart homes, which means mood lighting, high-speed wifi, advanced security system, Bluetooth connectivity, smart kitchen, solar panels etc. You have to make sure all your gadgets are going to be supported by a sturdy power source. Also, think ahead in the future, you may not have a smart kitchen now, but you may intend on getting it in the future, so it is always better to set up your fuse box for the future needs as well.
Prep the house – Cover the furniture to protect it from the dust, and try and have all your electronics work in one room at a time if possible. It’s the owner’s responsibility and not the electrician’s to ensure that the house is ready to be rewired, so make sure everything is ready to avoid unwanted damage.
WHAT WILL REWIRING ENTAIL?
An average for a 3 bedroom home renovation the cost would be somewhere around $8,000 to $10,000 which includes rewiring, new fuse boxes, and LED lighting for the whole house. Anything over and above will obviously cost more. The quote will differ from electrician to electrician; hence it is advised to get multiple quotes and compare to get the best deal.
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT ELECTRICIAN
An electrician’s job is split in phases, the first installation, and the second fix, as explained earlier. Usually the electricians prefer to provide services on supply and fix basis, which means they supply labour and materials. When it comes to first installation, most of them will strictly work sell to trade. For the second fix most will prefer for you to arrange your material, which is socket, switches, fittings etc.. Electrical contractors more often than not work on a fixed price, however it is also common to agree on a rate for per additional fix. Just surface fixes, where they have to fix the circuits without lifting any floors or chase out plaster work, will cost less as it is less time-consuming. Look at client testimonials and reviews to get a notion of the quality of work they provide. Also be clear on the timelines and the scope from the start. You can find one on the EWRB website.
Lastly if you intend to DIY; there are some areas you can work with without having to submit an application to the building regulations, such as adding a light fitting or a new socket, which are minor additions or alterations to the existing system. However if these are in wet areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, or outdoors, you’ll want a qualified electrician to sign off on your application. You must always ensure the necessary safety measures are followed, such as using tools with rubber-insulated handles, using a reliable current tester, using DIY scaffolding or instant scaffolding for ceiling fixes, and wearing the appropriate clothing and eye gear. Always turn off the power before you start the work, and test it with the current tester to be sure.