There are times when a house will need to be completely rewired. Old knob and tube or aluminum wiring can be serious safety hazards.
According to a report from the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 24,000 residential building electrical fires were recorded by United States fire departments annually between 2014 and 2016. These fires caused about 310 deaths, 850 injuries and $871 million in property loss. Electrical fires also resulted in more than twice the dollar loss per fire than non-electrical fires at residential properties.
There are many signs it may be 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. 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 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.
How much does it cost to rewire a house?
Most homeowners pay an average of $2,100 to rewire their homes, although prices can range from $1,500 to $10,000 with labor and materials, according to Thumbtack, a third-party service that pairs homeowners with professional service providers. 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. Regardless, it is important to stick to your budget.
Factors that affect the cost of rewiring your house
The costs to rewire your home can vary greatly depending on the size and age of your home, the scope of the project and the accessibility of the old wiring. Each of these factors impacts the labor cost, which accounts for the majority of the project’s overall price tag, says Bailey Carson, a home expert for Angi.
Here are some factors to consider:
Rewiring projects are typically charged per square foot, so more home means more wiring, more outlets and, consequently, higher costs, Carson says. “A house of 1,300 square feet can be rewired for around $8,000, while a bigger house at 2,500 square feet will likely ring in closer to $20,000.”
Scope of the project
“The cost will vary greatly based on whether you’re simply upgrading electrical panels, rewiring part of your home or rewiring the whole house,” Carson says. “Also, if you want or need to add outlets or switches to any rooms, plan on $100 to $185 per item.”
You’ll 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, according to the website HomeAdvisor, which helps homeowners find pros for their projects. An industry rule of thumb is to estimate one hour of work for every 100 square feet of wiring.
You may be looking at charges for extra labor if you need an updated electrical panel or new outlets in your home.
Since rewiring a home requires removing old wiring before replacing it, the labor cost will vary greatly depending on how easy it is for an electrician to access the old wiring. “Older homes and homes with hard-to-reach areas will cost more than newer builds or homes with simpler layouts,” Carson says. “If your pro can access wires through crawl spaces, basements, attics or joists in the floor, the project will cost less than if they have to open walls and ceilings and then repair them.”
Permits and inspections
Permits and inspection requirements will vary based on where you live. Often these are required to ensure your wiring is up to modern standards, abides by any local codes and will be safe for you and your family for decades to come. An inspection from a qualified electrician usually ranges from $125 to $250.
Financing options for house wiring and rewiring
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 options for funding a rewiring project.
A personal loan will usually give you the cash you need in a short time frame. You do not need any collateral to qualify, but you will need an income and a good credit score to qualify for 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. Because you use your home as collateral, 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 a home equity loan usually has a much lower interest rate than a personal loan.
Home equity line of credit
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) could be the best solution 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. As you repay what you borrow, it frees up more available credit for you to reuse. A HELOC uses your home as collateral, which means its interest rates are often lower than those for credit cards or personal loans.
8 tips to save on home rewiring
While cost-conscious homeowners will be on the hunt for ways to save money, it’s generally not a good idea to cut corners on rewiring projects.
“This is typically not the area where saving money should be the priority,” says David Steckel, home expert at Thumbtack. “The priorities should be doing it right and doing it once, in that order.”
Still, there are ways to minimize ancillary or unexpected costs.
- Avoid rewiring work that involves opening walls. If possible, opt for simpler approaches. “Opening walls is a much more complicated task than running wire through the attic or basement,” Steckel says. “Fixing walls after all of your electrical work is complete can eat up 25 to 30 percent of your total project budget.”
- Get an inspection first. Have a licensed electrician perform a full inspection of your home’s wiring before moving forward with a rewiring project. It is possible that you can make do with minor repairs instead.
- Shop around. Try to obtain at least three quotes from 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 it alone. Plenty of home improvement projects can be tackled in a DIY manner, but electrical work isn’t one of them. There’s a reason electricians require professional certifications — one wrong move can result in electrocution or a fire, and it is easy to cause additional damages when fixing even minor issues.
- Combine projects when possible. 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 increase your home’s value and save you money, too.
- Obtain permits. Some states may require you to obtain a permit before any work can be performed. You may even 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 punitive costs after the fact.
- Prioritize projects. 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 or a kitchen can be vastly more expensive than rewiring a bedroom or basement. A bedroom can run up to $800 to rewire, but a kitchen can cost more than $3,000.
- Do your research. Read up on electricians in your area, taking ratings and reviews into account.
The bottom line
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, though, to 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; rewiring your home can literally save your life.
“Remember the importance of this job being done right,” Carson says. “A poorly wired home can be a huge danger to you and your family. So, it’s worth it to invest a little more in a high-quality pro to avoid code violations, future repairs or potential fires — all risks that can come from faulty wiring.”