General Question

zephyr826's avatar

How hard is it to rewire a house?

Asked by zephyr826 (5583 points ) November 10th, 2009

My husband and I are buying a circa-1930 4 bedroom house, and when we had the inspection, we were told that basically all of the wiring had to be redone. Nothing is grounded and there are only two outlets per room. A few of our friends are handy with electrical things and have offered to help us do the wiring ourselves. My husband thinks that this is a good plan; however I not being a DIY-er am a bit nervous. For those of you who are handy, or electrically-minded, is this totally out of our league. Should we just hire someone, or can we pull this off ourselves?

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15 Answers

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

All depends on the skill set of your husband and friends imho, rewiring a house can be tricky as you do not know what the previous job was like. If you are planning on do a fresh rough in then it shouldn’t be as hard but still you want some one skilled in this department to help and do the roughing in. Electrical wiring in house can cause fires if not done properly..

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

You can do it yourself, but whether you decide to go with a professional electrician is a personal call. If you know someone that is a qualified electrician willing to work weekends for a private cash-only rate, go for it, but you better have all the work checked out by the city inspectors afterwards. I know electricians that do side work for about $15 an hour, cash.

Wiring is a fairly easy job depending on the circumstances and the skill level of the workers, the hard part is running the wires in the walls and getting it all done without ripping the house to pieces. It is definitely nothing for someone who isn’t skilled at it, but at the price of electrical contractors these days, you just have to decide how much it is worth to you.

The trickiest part is hooking up the lead from the wire to your new breaker box. Definitely nothing you want to fuck with if you’ve never done it before. As always, get everything inspected and get those permits, if your city or state demands you have permits. Good luck, and don’t take any shortcuts with your electrical system. You could burn the house down.

Replumbing a house is easier, but then, all you have to worry about is a few leaky water pipes.

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

@OutOfTheBlue looks like we share a mind, eh?

critter1982's avatar

It is not terribly difficult to rewire a house, however it is extremely time consuming. You’ll generally try to accomplish this by doing as little damage to your drywall as possible. If your breaker box is in the basement and you have an unfinished basement then you can fish your wire up to the first floor without too much heartache (very time consuming though). If you have a second floor you’ll likely end up cutting drywall out somewhere to aid in fishing your wire up to the attic and then fishing it back down into each room. It all depends on how your house is layed out. The wiring that is already there is somewhat irrelevant because you won’t be following what was already done, and you are going to have to keep all the old wires in the walls, because of the romex and staples that are used, unless you want to tear apart a lot of drywall and then you have to worry about a lot of patch work and painting. If your friends understand how to calculate loads per circuit breaker then you shouldn’t have a problem with them helping you however this is something that should be done. Also you may want to look at upgrading your breaker box. I assume it is a breaker box and not a fuse box. If it is a fuse box you def want to upgrade to a breaker box. I assume your box is a 100 amp breaker box, and if so you may want to change it to a 200 amp box if you are adding outlets or lights to many of your rooms. So generally speaking, it can be done, it is not terribly difficult, but it will take some time to complete.

If you are a bit nervous letting your husband and some friends do it you may want to try and hire someone that will calculate all your loads, evaluate your circuit box to see if it needs to be upgraded, but will allow you to fish all of the wire yourselves. This is the most time consuming part. If you can find someone that will let you do this then all that the electrician will need to do is to hook up all of your outlets and lights and hook up the breaker box. When fires start they generally occur at connections. The only time they ever occur at some point in the wire is when you accidentally cut the dielectric which allows for it to short. Connections and load calculations are the most critical part to wiring, so if your hesitant let the electrician do all this and run the wire yourself.

nzigler's avatar

Don’t… cut… the red wire

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

@nzigler don’t cut any wires period, unless the power is off at the box, you never know what the first job was done like..

Judi's avatar

@OutOfTheBlue ; they probably don’t have circuits, they probably have fuses!

OutOfTheBlue's avatar

Geez, never thought of that, could very well be possible with the house being built in the 30’s, never know, someone could have updated the box or anything, or even went in back in and redid some wiring. you just never know with stuff like this. Safety should always be #1 when dealing with this kind of stuff and usually by a trained professional.

YARNLADY's avatar

There are very strict building codes in the city where I live, and only licensed electricians are allowed to do any wiring work. Be sure to check your local ordinance before hiring “under the table” so to speak. Bonded, licensed electricians charge more because you are fully protected from shoddy, non-complying work, and worker injury.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

It’s always fun when you have new fixtures put in, and when you turn them on, sparks fly out, and you have to call the fire department because you could have a fire inside your walls.

Unless one of your friends is a licensed electrician and knows what he’s doing, I would seek the services of a professional. The stuff that you can do yourself is the plaster repair that you’ll need to do afterwards.

YARNLADY's avatar

@PandoraBoxx When we had ours done, I also had the DIY pleasures of picking out the new fixtures and wall plates. That in itself proved to be very satisfying, since I choose decorative plates depending of the “theme” of each room.

Judi's avatar

My husband (a very handy general contractor) says he would hire a licensed electrical contractor. If you over load something or splice something wrong you could end up burning down your house and kissing away your entire investment.

rottenit's avatar

1st off, dumb question but are the walls finished? if so I would hire someone.

Otherwise,
You might be able to talk a licenced electrician into “supervising” you work. Let them spec out the materials, (outlets, wire, etc) you guys run the wire let them hook-up the breaker box and inspect.

Ultimatly you can do alot of damage if something is messed up. Retrofits can be very tricky sometimes.

zephyr826's avatar

thanks everyone for your help. I’m definitely encouraging him to hire someone.

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