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Can I Sell a House with Old Wiring?

Is it illegal to sell a house with old wiring? Do you have to tell the new buyers when your property’s wiring reaches a certain age? What’s the cost of having a property rewired? And do you need to do it? All these questions, and more, will be answered.

Let’s get started…

How Do I Know if My House Needs to be Rewired?  

Importantly, there are no specific rules that will confirm if and/or when your house needs rewiring, and just because a house is old, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unsafe and needs rewiring. 

If you’re looking for some quick tell-tale signs that your home might need to be rewired, look for the following: 

  • wiring has rubber or lead-insulated cables (modern wiring is uPVC coated and will be grey or white) 
  • you get slight shocks from switches or outlets 
  • your wiring is damaged or exposed
  • you’re using an old fuse box 
  • you have flickering or dimming lights 
  • the main circuit breaker and some of the branch breakers frequently trip 

 A good place to start is the electricity meter and fuse box (now known as the consumer unit). If there is an old-fashioned-style fuse box with big white ceramic-style fuses, it’s likely that the property will need completely rewiring. A modern consumer unit will have circuit breakers and RCDs (residual current devices). An RCD is a sensitive safety device that switches off electricity if there is a fault. 

 Another tell-tale sign that rewiring a house may be necessary is having a mix of different socket and switch styles. This could indicate that a partial rewire has taken place, especially if there is evidence of surface-mounted wiring running along skirting boards and up walls under conduit. In some rare cases, very old properties may still have round pin sockets and Bakelite switches. These should be replaced for safety reasons.

Remember that old and faulty wiring can cause the entire electrical system to trip frequently or blow fuses or, at worst, spark a potentially lethal house fire or electrical shock.

What are the Benefits to Having a Home Rewired?

Rewiring doesn’t just provide you with the opportunity to make your home safer, but it also makes the house more modern, so it’ll be more appealing to a potential buyer because they know they won’t have to pay for a rewire to be done.

How Much Can I Expect to Pay to Have a House Rewired?  

Before you go straight into rewiring, you might want to consider having your property thoroughly checked by an electrician. An Electrical Installation Condition Report will highlight issues with your home’s electrics, including poor wiring or faulty connections. The average cost of this report ranges from about £150 for a one-bedroom flat, up to £375 for a large house.  

Sometimes, it’s possible to update an electrical system by having a modern consumer unit installed. But if you do need to have a full rewire undertaken, the cost will depend on a range of factors, with the property’s size, age and location playing the biggest part.

A total rewire can cost several thousand pounds for a small property and significantly more for a bigger dwelling. However, a full rewire can often be avoided if the existing cabling is sound and able to carry any additional loads.

Older installations can be updated by adding a modern consumer unit. New consumer units can be fitted, tested and certified for around £350. When the old fuse box is replaced with a modern consumer unit, it is frequently necessary to upgrade the installation’s earth bonding, so that’ll be an additional cost for you.  

Electricians will often work to a fixed price, based on how long they expect the work to take, and it is often possible to agree rates for each additional power point, switch or light fitting, so that you can make a room more convenient. 

On that topic, you might want to create an electrical plan before the work begins so that you will know exactly where you need extra lights and sockets. Using a plan of the house, mark the position of your furniture, then add the location of light fittings, power sockets and switches plus other electrical points, such as under-cabinet and bedside lighting. Always include more sockets than you think will be needed and remember to include supplies to boilers and fixed appliances, too 

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You might also want to plan for the future by incorporating ducts with a draw wire when laying floors or undertaking work to walls, so that cables can be pulled through later on. 

When the work has been finished, you might want to draw plans showing cable routes where the new electrical work has been carried out. This will prevent the wiring accidentally being affected in the future. 

According to Checkatrade.com, the average cost for a small flat to be rewired will be nearly £4,000, rising to about £10,000 for a large house. 
 

Size of property 

Average cost (+VAT) 

 1-bed flat   £3,900 
 2-bed flat   £4,800 
 3-bed flat   £5,650 
 1-bed house   £4,200 
 2-bed house   £4,800 
 3-bed house   £6,225 
 4-bed house   £7,730 
 5-bed house   £10,000 

 

Figures from Checkatrade.com (https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/cost-guides/rewire-house-cost/) 

These costs will cover a two-stage rewiring procedure and you can expect: 

  • removal of old wirings and fittings 
  • new wiring throughout your property 
  • new electrical accessories (such as socket outlets and switches) 
  • installation of a new consumer unit 
  • circuit testing and final installation certification to show that all work meets the current regulations

Is a Rewiring Going to be Disruptive? 

Rewiring a property can take up to 15 days and to enable the electrician to have full access, it’ll help if you can remove as much furniture as possible. Furthermore, carpets and floorboards might need to be taken up. 

As a result, you might incur additional costs to the rewiring, such as storage fees, and replacement carpets, as well as refitting floorboards. 

 On top of this, it’s likely that you’ll need to move out whilst your home is being rewired. That’s because when it’s being rewired, there’ll be no power and so it’ll be uninhabitable. Staying with friends or relatives might be required, or a hotel; which is going to further add to the costs.   

Is it All Worth it? Does Rewiring Add Value to a Property?  

Whilst a rewire may not directly add value to your house, it will mean that a buyer won’t be able to reduce their offer due to outdated electrics. 

If you’ve spent £5,000 rewiring the property, it’s unlikely to add £5,000 to the asking price, but your buyer won’t be able to reduce their offer by (for example) £10,000 to cover the costs and inconvenience of having to rewire the property themselves. It’ll also make your property more attractive because all the work has been done and an up-to-date certificate will provide peace of mind for your buyers.  

Do I Need to Rewire My House to Sell it?  

It’s not mandatory to rewire your house before selling, as long as all the electrical installations are safe and working. However, as we’ve said, it could add value to the property if you do have a rewire undertaken, especially if the existing wiring looks old.  

Can I Do the Rewiring Work Myself? 

Rewiring an entire home is not a job for an ambitious amateur due to the potentially fatal consequences of making a mistake. 

DIY electrical work is not illegal but it is regulated by law under ‘Part P’ of the Building Regulations. This classifies building work into two categories; notifiable and non-notifiable. Essentially, this distinguishes between major work or work in high-risk areas such as kitchens and bathrooms and minor work such as adding switches or sockets to existing circuits.

Major work must be notified to your local authority’s building control department. 

For major electrical work, including rewiring, DIYers must belong to one of the Government’s approved ‘Competent Person’ schemes or submit a building notice to the local authority before carrying out the work. For a fee, local authority inspectors, will check the work has been carried out in accordance with Building Regulations.

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‘Part P’, as previously mentioned, forms part of the Building Regulations. The principle of the Building Regulations is to ensure that consistent standards are applied to the construction of buildings including its structure, fire safety, sound insulation, drainage, ventilation and electrical safety.

The Part P requirement is that: “Reasonable provision shall be made in the design and installation of electrical installations in order to protect persons operating, maintaining or altering the installations from fire or injury.” 

Part P of the Building Regulations applies to fixed electrical installations in dwellings (including gardens and shared amenities in blocks of flats, and any building that shares its electricity supply with a dwelling). 

A straightforward way of meeting the requirements is to use a contractor who is registered with a competent body such as NICEIC.  Competent persons schemes were set up with approval from the government to assess contractors to a common standard. When contractors have registered with a scheme, they can self-certify their work as being compliant with Building Regulations, saving you the time of doing it yourself through the local authority. 

Are there Different Requirements for Areas with Water? 

Bathrooms, kitchens and other wet areas, (such as swimming pools or saunas), have the greatest risk of electrocution. There are special restrictions on electrics in wet areas. For example, shaver sockets must be positioned away from the splash area of a shower and no other sockets are allowed in bathrooms; only pull-cord switches.  

Importantly, electrical appliances in damp areas (such as ventilation fans and light fittings) must have moisture and mechanical protection, known as Ingress Protection or IP.

There are different ‘IP’ numbers and IP ratings are defined by the international standard EN 60529 (British Standard BS EN 60529:1992). The rating consists of the letters IP followed by two digits. The first digit indicates the degree of protection (of people) from moving parts, as well as the protection of enclosed equipment from foreign bodies. The second defines the protection level that the enclosure has from various forms of moisture (such as drips, sprays, submersion). In short, the higher the number the better the protection. That’s why exterior plug sockets (installed for convenience in a garden) will have covers and carry an IP65 rating; meaning it’s rated as ‘dust tight’ and protected against water projected from a nozzle. Meanwhile, an IP66 enclosure is rated as ‘dust tight’ and protected against powerful jets of water. 

Are There Special Regulations for Electrical Work? 

You should be aware that all electrical installations must comply with Building Regulations BS 7671, also known as the IET Wiring Regulations. This sets the standards for electrical installation in the UK. If you are extending your home or (for example) converting the garage or loft space, all the new wiring will need to conform to the latest Building Regulations and the existing installation has to be updated to safely carry the extra load. 

I’d Like to Get an Electrician to do a Rewire, but How do I Choose One?  

When you’re researching electricians, check if they are  registered with a regulatory body such as NICEIC, ELECSA or NAPIT and have insurance coverage. Obtaining three estimates from different electricians before agreeing to any major work electrical work to your home will enable you to check that the price stated for the job is a reasonable amount. 

I Can’t Afford to Get My House Rewired, so What Can I Do?   

If you want to sell your house without rewiring, you could set the property’s asking price to a level that takes into account the amount of money a buyer will need to spend to get the property’s electrics up to scratch. 

This way buyers will feel your property is well priced for the potential your house holds and will also be happier to buy from you as you’re being upfront about the issues your property has and you’re willing to price your property appropriately. 

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However, a buyer may still be put off at the prospect of needing to rewire a house and all the disruption that comes along with this. Also, when offering on a house, buyers tend to go below the asking price, and over-estimate the cost of major work, which could leave you with a much lower offer than you may expect for your property. And that’s if they even want to submit an offer.  

Are There any Other Options for Me to Sell a House That Needs to be Rewired?  

Yes, there are. You could sell to a cash buyer. The advantage of selling to a cash buying company instead of a private buyer is that the sale is likely to be guaranteed, and they will generally buy any property in any condition. Therefore, if your home does need a complete rewiring, they will burden the cost and it won’t be your problem any longer.  

Cash buyers work with motivated sellers to push through a fast sale. Their promotional tools are speed and simplicity. Their job is to buy properties that are either difficult to sell or whose owners need cash in their bank account very quickly. 

To achieve these super-fast sales, you as a seller will have to take a hit on your price. Cash buyers typically offer around 70% to 80% of the current market rate, although some will offer more. Whilst this may sound like a low price for your property, it could actually save you money because you won’t have to pay agency fees or conveyancing fees, nor, as mentioned, rewiring costs (and the additional costs of re-decorating and replacing carpets).  

The amount that a fast sale company will offer to you for your property will depend upon the company. Some of the most reliable cash buying companies will use independent valuations to decide on a figure and show you the evidence that has enabled them to decide on that number.

Meanwhile, other companies may not use such respected methods and instead flatter you with a higher offer on the phone; only to reduce it when they visit your property. It’s essential to ensure that the valuation you get is a ‘no obligation’ valuation; meaning you’re not forced to sell to that company just because they visited and valued it.   

How Does a Cash Buying Company Actually Work?  

Companies that buy houses will buy your house fast for cash, usually within 30 days, with most completing the sale within seven days. When you contact these house buying companies, they’ll ask for your details and those of the property, after which they’ll have a valuation. Then they’ll give you an offer. If you accept the offer, they will process the payment and you should receive funds in your account within a few days. This means you don’t have to worry about being in a chain or chasing up an estate agent. It also means you know exactly how much you’ll receive and, because you’re not paying any commission or fees, it’ll be easy to calculate how much you’ll have available to buy your next home.  

When Will I Receive the Money from Selling My House to a Cash Buyer? 

Whichever method you choose to sell your home, you’ll receive the money from your house sale after the process ‘completes’. This is the day that the keys are exchanged, and the buyer is now the official owner of your property. When the buyer’s conveyancer has sent over the money to your conveyancer, they will pay all the necessary fees due, and then send over the remaining amount to your bank account. 

Any Questions? 

We hope you’ve found this article to be informative and helpful and explained to you more about the pros and cons of selling a home with old wiring. If you are selling your property and don’t have the time or funds to have it rewired, speak to us about your free, no-obligation offer for a cash sale, or send an email. 

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