There are times when a house will need to be completely rewired. Old knob and tube or aluminum wiring can be a safety hazard, one that can cause serious issues. Electrical failure and malfunction caused nearly 45,000 fires between 2012 and 2016 and killed an estimated 440 people, according to reports by the U.S. Fire Administration. These malfunctions also caused over $1.3 billion in property damage during that time.
There are many signs that it is time to rewire your home, including blown fuses, tripped breakers or lights flickering or burning out quickly. Sparks from an outlet, hot switch plates and loose outlets can also signal trouble. As a rule, houses more than 40 years old may require updating.
Faulty wiring can cause unimaginable destruction if left unaddressed, but it is a problem that can be solved by rewiring your home. Today’s wiring doesn’t use the same metallic material that causes such destruction; the wire is covered in plastic instead.
Not all homes are wired the same, though, which means that the cost to rewire a house can vary from one home to the next. No matter the situation, though, one thing is for sure: rewiring is no small expense.
Average cost of wiring and rewiring a house
The owner of a 1,500-square-foot home can expect to pay about $4,000 to rewire their home based on the national average. Thumbtack, a third party service that pairs homeowners with professional service providers, reports that most homeowners pay an average of $2,100 to rewire their home, although prices can range from $1,500 to $10,000 with labor and materials. This comes out to about $2 to $4 per square foot with an average of about $2.75 per square foot.
Calculating the actual cost isn’t so simple, though, because there are many factors at play, including wiring and professional services. The price will depend on the age and size of your home, the number of rooms being rewired and the amount of wiring needed for the project.
You will also need to pay a licensed electrician to do the work. Rates can vary for this type of service and are usually charged by the hour. The average cost nationwide ranges from $50 to $100 per hour, with larger cities and more populated areas on the higher end of the scale. An industry rule of thumb is to estimate one hour of work for every 100-square-feet of wiring.
Some optional items, if needed, will also impact the total cost. You may be looking at charges for extra labor if you need an updated electrical panel or new outlets in your home. Regardless, it is important to stick to your budget.
Tips to save on home rewiring
You should have a licensed electrician perform a full inspection of your home’s wiring before going forward with a rewiring project. It is possible that you can make do with minor repairs instead.
Shop around to find out your options and try to obtain at least three quotes from different electricians. The cheapest option may not be the best, but comparing several quotes will help you find the best prices for the services you need.
Don’t go at it alone. There are plenty of home improvement projects that can be tackled in a DIY manner but electrical issues are not one of them. There’s a reason why electricians require professional certifications — one wrong move can easily result in electrocution or a fire, and it is easy to cause additional damages when fixing even minor issues.
Combine projects when possible for extra savings. You may only need to fix the wiring in one room, but consider updating your outlets or electrical panel while you’re at it. It could help your home’s value and save you money, too.
Some states may require you to pull a permit before any work can be performed. You can be fined if you don’t acquire a permit for a project that requires one, so knowing whether this is required can save you from having to pay punitary costs after the fact.
Knowing what each room costs to rewire will help you prioritize each project. Not all rooms will cost the same to rewire, even if the square footage is the same. Rewiring a bathroom and a kitchen can be vastly more expensive than a bedroom or basement. A bedroom can run up to $800 to rewire, but a kitchen can cost more than $3,000.
House wiring and rewiring financing options
Rewiring a home is not cheap. Many homeowners choose to finance the project instead of paying for the work in cash. Luckily, there are a few different options for funding a rewiring project.
A personal loan will give you the cash you need and you will usually receive the funds in a short time frame. You do not need any collateral to qualify, but you will need an income and a good credit score if you want to qualify at a low interest rate. This type of loan is great for a rewiring project because you can often get a rate that’s lower than the ones offered by credit card companies, though you will have to have your finances in order to qualify.
Home equity loan
A home equity loan allows you to borrow against the equity you have built up in your property. As with a personal loan, a home equity loan is a one time loan that you receive in a lump sum, but you use your home as collateral so the lending requirements can be a little more lenient. A good credit score will help secure your loan, and offering your home as collateral will allow lenders to feel confident in your ability for repayment, so this type of loan usually has a much lower interest rate than a personal loan.
Home equity line of credit
A home equity line of credit could be the best solution for you if you anticipate having multiple phases of your rewiring project or you aren’t sure of the full cost up front. A HELOC works like a credit card in that you’ll receive access to a line of credit with a limit that’s a percentage of your home equity and you can borrow from it several times. A HELOC uses your home as collateral, which means the interest rates are often lower than credit cards or personal loans, and as you repay what you borrow it frees up more available credit for reuse.
While rewiring a home is expensive, the good news is that you usually only need to do it once, so you will not have to worry about recurring expenses or ongoing projects. It’s important to do things the right way, though, and use the best materials and services possible to ensure the safety of your home. This is one project where you do not want to cut corners because rewiring your home can literally save your life.