There are no set guidelines as to when a property should be rewired. Just because your wiring’s old, it doesn’t mean it’s unsafe. Many factors can affect the wear and tear of your electrical installation, including the materials used and how your property has been used.
We would advise that a periodic inspection is carried out on owner-occupied properties at least every 10 years and every five years in rented accommodation. The test will certify whether the electrics in a property are safe and tell you if anything needs upgrading.
You should carry out regular checks around the house on the condition of your cables, switches, sockets and other accessories. If you notice anything unusual – for example, burn marks on plugs and sockets, sounds of ‘arcing’ (buzzing or crackling), fuses blowing or circuit-breakers tripping – get a registered electrician to check your electrics as soon as possible.
When should an electrician carry out a rewire?
All electrical installations, over time, will deteriorate naturally as they are a working mechanism made up of various components and working systems. For wiring systems more than 25 years old we would always recommend having the electrical system checked out at regular intervals. This will help identify any faults or defects which could require improvement. It will also give you an idea of any work that might be required and potential cost if you are considering upgrading the electrical installation or remodelling it to include additional circuits. A full rewire usually takes place when major building work such as an extension or conversion is being carried out – prior to any plastering or decoration.Other occasions when a rewire might be necessary include:
- After flood or fire damage
- If electrical installation has become unsafe
- Installation of several new circuits
- Upgrade of building/property
Notification to Building control
Carrying out a partial or full rewire will often involve creating new circuits or a consumer unit change. This means the work is notifiable to your local building control department. Using a registered contractor with NICEIC or ELECSA means the person carrying out the work is eligible to do this for you – without the need for you to do anything. Be sure to arrange this with your electrician beforehand and get the appropriate certification for the work afterwards.
What does the work involve?
Carrying out a rewire will require a large amount of disruption to the main fabric of a property. It is likely that all switches, fittings, sockets and the consumer unit will be replaced and require new wiring. A total rewire will involve two stages of working; first fix and second fix. All first fix work will take place before plastering work and, usually, at the same time as any central heating and plumbing work. This is to ensure all cabling is hidden so the installation will involve lifting the floor coverings and floorboards and possibly the skirting boards too, chasing out channels in the walls and possibly in some ceilings that are inaccessible from above.
As well as installing new cabling, first fix stage may involve fitting new back boxes for all sockets and switches. In addition to rewiring for all power and lighting circuits, it is a good opportunity to rewire for modern central heating controls, alarms, smoke detectors and doorbells, to add outdoor lighting and sockets, and to rewire the telephones and television aerial sockets. It is also worth redesigning the wiring plan for sockets and switches to make sure it meets your needs and those of modern house buyers.
Think about specifying two-way or even three-way switching for hallways and landings and other rooms with more than one main access. For a high-value property, consider adding a separate circuit with separate switching for table and standard lamps in the main living rooms and principal bedrooms. It may also be worth considering adding automated lighting, home network cablings, speaker cabling and other modern technology.
Once the first fix stage has been completed, the property can be re-plastered or the walls and ceilings filled and made good, and the flooring replaced. The second fix work can then proceed fitting sockets and switch plates, light fittings, the consumer unit and wiring any electric fans, cookers, extractor hoods, electric showers and the immersion heater, if there is a hot water storage cylinder.
A full rewire can be avoided, providing the existing cabling is sound and able to carry any additional loads. It also may be possible to upgrade it by adding a modern consumer unit and upgrading the earthing and bonding.
What will a new rewire mean?
Having a full rewire will bring the electrical installation in your property up-to-date with the latest wiring regulations. It will also give you the opportunity to modernise your home with a new consumer unit containing residual current devices (RCDs) and circuit breakers, additional sockets to suit your needs (including USB sockets should you so wish) and the most up-to-date, modern wiring available.
It can also be costly and we recommend that you get at least three quotes before arranging for an electrician to carry out a full rewire – as the prices quoted could be markedly different. However, please be aware that the lowest cost does not always mean the best job – so do your research carefully and maybe look at examples of other rewires carried out by the firm you choose to go with.
My property is quite old and I want to know if it needs a rewire?
Before ordering a full rewire it might be worth having a full inspection of the electrics beforehand. You should contact your local NICEIC or ELECSA registered contractor and ask them to carry out an electrical inspection (sometimes known as a periodic inspection) of the property. Much like an MOT, this is an inspection of the current condition of an electrical installation in your home. On completion of the inspection, you will receive an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) detailing any damage, deterioration, defects, dangerous conditions and anything not in line with the present-day safety standard which might give rise to danger.
I am considering a full rewire. What building regulations do I need to be aware of?
A full rewire has to be notified to the local building control department so that it meets the appropriate safety standards. Speak to the electrician before any work to upgrade your wiring commences. Find out if the work complies with Part P of the building regulations and that the appropriate notification and certification will be taken care of once the work is completed. A straightforward way of meeting the requirements is to use an NICEIC or ELECSA registered contractor. They can self-certify the work and notify the local building control department on your behalf.
How long will a full rewire take?
A full rewire can take, on average up to between 5-10 days, depending on the size of the property. The time taken depends on the number of contractors working and the exact scope of work involved.
Where can I find an NICEIC or ELECSA registered electrician?
You can search for a registered electrical contractor in your area by simply visiting niceic.com or elecsa.co.uk and typing in your postcode. We would recommend getting quotes from at least 3 different firms before agreeing to carry out any work.
Why use an NICEC or ELECSA registered contractor?
Choosing an NICEIC or ELECSA registered contractor is a householder’s best way to ensure a safe job. Electricians registered with NICEIC and ELECSA are assessed on a regular basis to ensure high standards and their work is checked against the IET Wiring Regulations as well as other standards.
What happens if something goes wrong?
All NICEIC and ELECSA registered businesses are covered by the Platinum Promise – a promise that protects you against all non- compliant installation work. Should any work carried out by one of our contractors be found not to comply with the Building Regulations or relevant installation standards, we can instruct the contractor to go back and carry out the work to the required standard. If the contractor is no longer in business or disputes the matter we will have the work rectified by another registered contractor at no extra cost. The Platinum promise is valid for up to six years from the date of the completion of the original work and covers work up to a maximum of £25,000 for any one installation.