How much does it cost to rewire a house with old electrics?

If you’ve just bought a fixer-upper with out-of-date electrics, then you are likely to be wondering what it’ll cost to rewire a house

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If you are the proud new owner of a home that you plan on renovating there is a strong likelihood that the electrics are going to need looking at – but how much does it cost to rewire a house?

“When purchasing an older home – anything pre 1980 – the electrical system is something that you may need to investigate and plan a budget to update,” says Nathan Weathers, a former journeyman electrician and head of professionals at Deako.

It is usually pretty obvious when a rewire is needed in a home renovation – flickering lights, fuses blowing more often than they should and even small electric shocks from switch and sockets are all tell-tale signs.

We spoke to the experts to avoid you being faced with costs you weren’t expecting when getting a rewire.

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What does it cost to rewire a house?

Nathan Weathers
Nathan Weathers

Nathan Weathers is a former journeyman electrician and Head of Professionals at Deako.

Deako was founded by Derek Richardson who, after replacing light switches in his own home, became frustrated with the removal and replacement process. He began thinking about how a modular connector would make the process easier and safer. The link between the two problems was clear, and so the idea for a modular light switch was born.

When looking into how to renovate a house you will quickly realise that rewiring is often an unavoidable job and while it might not be one of the most glamorous aspects of a renovation, it is one of those necessary upgrades to get done.

“It's crucial to understand that the integrity and safety of your electrical system are paramount. Over time, wiring can deteriorate due to wear and tear, corrosion, or outdated materials, such as cloth wire, potentially leading to electrical hazards such as shorts, shocks, or even fires,” warns Adam Nelson, master electrician at Young Cardinal Electric.

“Generally, for a typical family home, you're looking at an investment of between $8,000 and $15,000. This estimate covers labor, parts, and the needed permits,” advises Bobby Lynn, owner and operator at LiveWire Electrical.

“A ballpark for a complete rewire could be anywhere from $3,500 to $12,000,” suggests Ryan Gregor, owner and head electrician at RCG Electrical. “Best bet? Get a licensed electrician to come out and assess your specific situation. They can give you a more accurate estimate.”

Adam Nelson
Adam Nelson

Adam Nelson is the co-owner of Young Cardinal Electric which serves the Tampa Bay Area and specializes in many aspects of electrician work such as residential work, commercial work, solar panel installation and electrical remodeling. They have become one of the most decorated electrician businesses in the Tampa Bay Area, working with clients as big as the University of South Florida

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When does a house need rewiring?

If you are still unsure whether your property needs a whole-house rewire, there are a few signs to be on the lookout for.

“Updating the wiring becomes necessary when the existing system is outdated, not up to code, or unable to handle the demands of modern appliances and technology,” explains Adam Nelson. “This is especially common in older homes where the electrical infrastructure may not have been designed to accommodate today's electrical needs.”

“Imagine your home's electrical system as its nervous system,” explains Ryan Gregor. “Older homes might have aluminum wiring, knob-and-tube wiring, or simply insufficient capacity for modern needs.

“This can lead to safety hazards, like overheating and fire risks,” continues Ryan. “Rewiring ensures your home meets current safety codes and handles today's appliances, from high-powered TVs to kitchen gadgets. It's an investment, but it safeguards your home and brings your electrical system up to speed.”

“In previous decades some products and some wiring methods were used that have since been proven unsafe and could cause harm to your home and family," says Nathan Weathers. "Examples of these could be the heart of your electrical system (panels or loadcenters).

“Panels made by Zinsco and Federal Pacific have been proven to be unsafe,” continues Nathan. “In fact many insurance companies will not insure your home with these installed. This would require a service upgrade to a new, up-to-date panel. This could cost you upwards of $3,000 when hiring a licensed bonded electrician.”

A word of note here, this is definitely one of those household projects not to DIY –make sure you call in the pros.

Ryan Gregor
Ryan Gregor

Ryan Gregor, the founder of RCG Electrical, has over a decade of experience in the electrical field, driven by a lifelong passion for understanding and harnessing the power of electricity. His expertise spans residential, commercial, and solar electrical solutions, positioning RCG Electrical as a trusted and innovative provider in the industry.

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Is it possible to make smaller electrical upgrades?

It is not always necessary to rewire the entire house, in which case you can expect costs to come in lower.

“Many times upgrades can be what I would call cosmetic or surface updates,” says Nathan Weathers. ”Generally these surface updates are fairly affordable and can improve the look and safety of your home. This might include replacing your old ivory colored light switches with new white switches. Or maybe you notice that your phone chargers and lamp cords tend to fall out of your receptacles when you plug them in. Receptacles over time can lose their ‘tension’ and ability to firmly make contact with your devices that you plug in. Not only is this inconvenient and annoying but it’s also very dangerous! These loose connections can cause fires if not addressed. These types of surface updates can usually be made for under $1,500 when hiring licensed and bonded electricians.”

If you are wondering how to choose the right electrical wall switches, consider the ENERLITES Toggle Light Switch Metal Wall Plate from Amazon – a stylish option for those looking for an easy way to update their decor.

Are there any additional costs to be aware of?

You should expect some level of disruption when rewiring a house – and putting this right will inevitably add to costs, although most people buying a fixer-upper home are likely to be knee-deep in redecorating anyway .

“There are hidden costs when replacing the entire electrical system in your home,” explains Nathan Weathers. “Sheetrock repair, paint, flooring, These are all common items that will need to be removed and then replaced for an electrician to complete this job.

“Because of the complexity and high cost of the task, you will find many homes that have been pieced together over the years with only accessible and surface updates made leaving the harder to reach areas with the older, unsafe materials behind the walls or in the ceilings,” continues Nathan.

“Many older homes are what I would call ‘Frankenstein’ homes. Over the years updates here and there have been made to get the home by. Eventually, someone is going to need to make the investment and update the home to a new electrical system. This will enable your home to deal with the electrical demands of today's technologies, add value to your home and, most importantly, keep you and your family safe.”

How is a house rewired?

It is really useful to understand the process of rewiring a house – this way you will know what to expect when the electricians turn up at your home and help you to avoid any expensive home renovation mistakes.

“The electricians start by evaluating your system to figure out what needs to go and what the new setup should be,” explains Bobby Lynn. “This means pulling out all the old wiring and putting in new, up-to-date wires.

“The electricians will also update your electrical panel and make sure everything – outlets, switches, fixtures – is correctly connected and up to standard. Plus, they should be coordinating with local building authorities to make sure everything they do is above board and in line with safety and code regulations.”

Bobby Lynn
Bobby Lynn

Bobby Lynn is owner and operator at LiveWire Electrical, a company with over 20 years of experience. The company's skill set encompasses all things electrical, from simple household installations/repairs to large scale commercial/industrial projects, and everything in between.

A kitchen with several pendant lights

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How long does it take to rewire a house?

“This varies based on the size and complexity of the project,” explains Ryan Gregor. “A small house might take 2-10 days, while a sprawling fixer-upper could take weeks. The electrician will be able to give you a clearer picture once they've inspected the job.”

Three of the best smart light bulbs for your upgraded system

In most cases rewiring costs are are unavoidable. If you have been left feeling worried about your ever-decreasing budget check out our guide on how to save money on home renovations to get your project back on track.

Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha has been writing about everything homes and interiors related for over 20 years and, in that time, has covered absolutely everything, from knocking down walls and digging up old floors to the latest kitchen and bathroom trends. As well as carrying out the role of Associate Content Editor for Homebuilding & Renovating for many years, she has completely renovated several old houses of her own on a DIY basis.