Planning a successful rewire of your home

If you have just found out your home needs to be rewired you have a lot to plan. Now is the time to get all the plug sockets where you need them.  Rewiring even a small house is a big job so it makes sense to plan well.  Think of it as a blank canvas; not where existing switches and sockets are now – but the amount you need where you want them. Floors need to be lifted in places, access to loft space is necessary along with everywhere you want light switches, fittings and socket outlets too. In an ideal world the house would be empty whilst the rewiring takes place. You can make working space available in a similar way if you were having new carpet or laminate flooring fitted. Walls and coving will be chased away in places to bury cables which will need plastering and decorating afterwards. Unless you opt for the surface mounted trunking option which although quicker to install and has none of the mess associated with wall chasing; it is noticeable in places.

Surface mounted accessories with matching plastic trunking is the cheapest and less messy way to rewire, compared to:

Chased in accessories takes longer, causes a mess and requires redecoration although the nicer looking option once completed.

If you or your neighbours work from home then you may need to make alternative arrangements to get away from all the noise and disruption. Depending on how much furniture, paintings, books and hi-fi equipment there is, you may even need to place some items in a detached garage or storage. Do you want to risk possessions getting damaged or pay electricians to move furniture when they could be getting on with the rewire?

When bungalows, apartments and houses are built the cables go in before the walls, ceilings and floors are dressed up. Now you need a rewire thirty years later; some of that will need to be undone! If you have already moved in you will need to prepare yourself for disruption. Some people choose to stay with relatives, friends or plan a holiday to let the electricians get on with it – at least for the first part, referred to as first fix where are the cables are routed to where they need to be. The less obstacles they have, the quicker you can get your home back to normal!

What to think about before getting your house rewired

Replacing the wiring in your home is something you only want to do once so think wisely! Some customers make the most of the expense and disruption by getting everything they need now and for the foreseeable future. With help from my rewire guide you can do the same.

Are you going to live in the house whilst the work is being carried out? Some do, but its a lot easier if you don’t! Occupied rewires means less daily working time. The last hour can often be spent making things safe for your return (like putting floorboards back down) only to be undone again the following morning! The longer it takes, the more money its going to cost you.

How much stuff have you got? Book cases, sofa’s, tables, beds, laminated flooring and integrated wardrobes all add time to the job because they are in the way of sockets, switches, fuse boards and all the cables inside the walls and under the floor. If you contact electricians who rewire properties in the Cardiff area they will tell you unoccupied, empty houses are a dream to wire compared to an occupied one full of items, which aren’t so popular! Bear this in mind if you are thinking of buying a home, or know someone who is!

Are the light switches on the correct side of the door opening? If they aren’t, now is the time to correct them. What about the location of lights: do you have a long hall with just one fitting in the middle with two dark spots either end? Now is the time to resolve that. Always think LED for lighting: they use less power, come in a range of outputs and don’t generate any heat making them much safer, especially for the increasingly popular downlights which sit inside the ceiling void. Do you want to dim any locations – like above your dinning table for example? Dimmers need to have deeper back boxes, not the plaster depth ones often found in Cardiff homes.

It’s not uncommon to see socket outlets installed directly on top of the floor in older properties throughout Cardiff’s City Centre. Socket locations and heights can both be corrected as part of the rewire

  • Socket locations: Are they where you really want them and are there enough for today’s electronic equipment? Most customers want at least three double sockets in each room, apart from the kitchen where people need much more for all the gadgets and usual washing machine, tumble dryer, dish washer, microwave, kettle, toaster and coffee maker.
  • What about electrical items you haven’t got at the moment, but might want in the future? If you are thinking about an electric shower, induction hob, outside lighting, hot tub or summer house; now is the time to mention it. The cables can be brought to the location ready for future work, like kitchens, hot tubs and detached summer houses.
  • Is the location of your existing fuse board OK? Rarely in a perfect place; but if you need to use ladders or take furniture apart to operate it – sort it now.
  • Buying your own parts. This is something some customers suggest but it’s just not worth it in my opinion. You might have seen a deal of the century in your favourite DIY store, but electricians know what works, what doesn’t, what is a good, reliable brand and can probably get it for less than you anyway. Maybe you want brushed chrome accessories or mirror.  Just ask! If you are going to the expense and disruption of having your home rewired then its a good idea to have the same brand of accessories fitted throughout. Just let them know what you want and let them source it all for you.
  • Do you have any plans for your kitchen? A typical room in a house will have a light and some sockets.  Kitchens need a lot of planning for all the electrical requirements.  Cabinets may need to be removed and sometimes tiles smashed off. Cables need to run from wherever your accessories are (lights, switches, sockets, showers, boilers) back to the consumer unit.

Questions i’m often asked by customers during a rewire

❔ What happens to the old wiring?

Old cabling can be cut off and removed wherever the electrician has access to them. That said, wiring is buried inside walls, under floors and above ceilings. The only way to get rid of every single piece is to take your home to bits so it doesn’t happen. Old socket outlets and light switches can be removed and plastered over if relocating.

❔ How long is it going to take and would we be better off moving out whilst it is being worked on?

This depends on the size of the property, how much chasing there is to do, what the flooring is made of and what the access is like in the loft to name a few. Ask any electrician in Cardiff and they will tell you an occupied rewire will always take much longer than an empty one. That’s because even when there is little furniture in the way, the property still needs to be made safe for the occupants to return every evening. The last hour of the working day can be getting the floor suitable for walking on, or all the dust sheets out of the area – an hour which could be spent getting on with the rewire if the property were empty. Some electricians are happy to work longer days to get the job done quicker, but you might not want a tradesman working in your house at 8am when getting ready for work, or 7pm when you want to relax after working yourself. The fewer obstacles in the way, the quicker (and more cost effective) it will be for you. So, if you are considering purchasing a property, get the electrics checked in the way of a electrical installation condition report before moving in.

❔ Do I need a skip?

This was the waste from rewiring a three bedroom house. A mixture of rubble from the wall chaser, old cable and cardboard boxes from the new cabling and accessories

Most waste from rewiring can be categorized to make removing it as simple as possible for the customer to deal with if they wish. Plastic bags and cardboard boxes from electrical accessories can be recycled. Dust and rubble from wall chasing will need to be disposed of and does not come under the usual domestic waste we place outside for regular collection. Most customers arrange for someone to collect this or take to the local recycling centre themselves.

❔ Can we start working on any part of the house whilst the wiring is being replaced?

It’s best to wait until the rewire has been completed, chases in-filled, tested and certified before getting on with other work like new flooring or decorating.

❔ I noticed your estimate includes smoke and heat detectors. I would like to install my own battery operated models.

The building regulations states a major alteration of the building (which includes a rewire) requires registered electricians to install mains, interlinked smoke detectors as part of the job. The Aico models i install are mains powered with sealed, lithium back-up batteries (no need to replace – whilst in date) and last ten years.

❔ Can any of the electrical accessories be re-used?

Unless any of your items are already brand new its rarely worth re-fitting old accessories.  Its best to fit new accessories with new wiring for piece of mind and longevity.  Often customers will ask for some of their original light fittings to be re-fitted.  Instead of a pendant set you would expect to see in a brand new home.  Sometimes customers will ask specifically for a basic pendant drop so the rewire can be completed and fit nicer lights at a later date.

❔ How long does the noisy, messy part go on for?

The first fix is the messy part.  That is when walls are chased, floors lifted, cables and socket boxes installed.  I in-fill my chases as part of the job so you wont need to arrange for a plasterer to come in before i get on with the second fix (the nicer part where the accessories are fitted). I use a bonding coat plaster to hold the cables in place and then finish off with good quality Gyproc Easi-Fill ready for decoration. On a typical three bedroom house the first fix will last around five working days.

❔ Can i fit USB sockets after the rewire has been completed?

If you want usb sockets installed – have them done as part of the rewire. It wont cost you anymore in labour and you know they have been professionally installed.  Some usb socket outlets need deeper back boxes to allow for the transformer. The electrician can do this as part of the job.

❔ I have arranged for a tiler to re-tile the kitchen.  What will happen to the socket outlets you have just installed?

Because cables supplying the kitchen accessories often come down the walls; tiles need to be hacked off to install the new wiring and socket outlets

Most tilers slacken the socket screws off to allow the socket to lift away from the wall to get the tiles installed correctly. The other option is to place the cables inside an enclosure to allow the tiler unrestricted access and have the sockets re-fitted once the tiling job has been completed.

❔ What do you think my total cost for the rewire will come to?

Your total cost for your house rewire will be:

✅ The amount the electrician charges you

✅ Plastering work (if you hire me I will in-fill all the chases as part of the job)

✅ Redecoration costs (paint, wall paper and a decorator if you aren’t going to do it yourself)

✅ Storage (if you have placed items in to storage)

✅ Accommodation and travel if you decide to stay elsewhere whilst the rewire is taking place.