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Considerations When Re-Wiring a Renovation Poperty

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 14 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
Property Renovation Renovate Extension

Rewiring a property as part of a renovation is a good idea, as a great deal of the work isn’t actually electrical as such, but light building work in order to get cables from one place to another. If you are lifting floorboards, working in the ceiling void or re-plastering, it makes sense to get wires laid before everything starts to be put back together.

Updating For Safety and Flexibility

Rewiring is a good idea if the property hasn’t been updated for a while. Modern electrical regulations are a lot safer than previous standards and it’s unlikely that a wiring job done, say, thirty years ago will have enough sockets to satisfy the amount of devices in use around the house today. Lighting has got more sophisticated too, with fewer people happy to rely on just a central lamp in the ceiling in each room.

One point to note about rewiring a period house is that if the wires have been run in conduits (plastic or metal channels to hold the wire in place), then there’s a chance, if the writing plan isn’t going to change too much, that the new wires can be drawn through the old conduits. If this is the case, it will make the job a good deal cheaper.

Plan For the Future

Assess your needs by going round the house and looking at how many sockets you’ll need in each room. Then double it! After all, you don’t want to spend all the money on a rewire and then have to drag out the four-way extensions again two years later.

At the same time, consider where you want lights to be, either now or perhaps in the future. Mark up in pencil where you want lights on the wall to go and think about switching too, would it be better in some rooms with more than one door to have switches by each door, or just the one? Would you like dimmer switches in some of the rooms?

Remember that in bathrooms you are not allowed to have ordinary light switches or sockets, with the exception of special shaver units. Then what about outside? Would some movement-activated lamps by the front and back doors make life easier and safer in the dark winter months?

Get the Professionals in

Once you get it all down, get electrical contractors in to quote for the work. Use the usual rules: at least three separate quotes, ask to see reference sites and get a personal recommendation if you can. Although a good electrician will be able to improve your ideas with his suggestions, you should do the initial planning first so that you can quickly give the electricians a reasonable idea of what you want.

It is not a job for the amateur, however, and in fact a new law introduced in January 2005 requires most electrical work in the home to be performed by a ‘competent’ person. Obviously the best way of ensuring someone is competent is to employ a qualified and certified electrician.

Building Regulations

Electrical installation work in England and Wales is also now covered by a new Part P of the Building Regulations, which means that any electrical installation must comply with Regs and be properly installed and tested to ensure compliance (this was already the case in Scotland, whereas in Northern Ireland, there are no requirements as yet).

An installation is anything electrical that is fixed to a part of the building such as a socket, wire or switch box, but not plugging in a table lamp or changing a bulb. It is the homeowners duty to notify the Local Authority Building Control either before the work starts or afterwards if a registered installer is used (the easiest option).

Make it Work For You

However you decide to progress, make sure that you get what you want. It’s not a job you are likely to want to do again, and it’s not a cheap job either. It makes sense to go over-board with the specification so that your investment lasts as long as possible.

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