Thursday, 14 August 2014

What to expect when you're expecting... a re-wire

A large outlay of cash is expectation number one.  Ours came in at around £2,500 and this was the cheapest quote that we had.  Part of the reason this was the cheapest is because we went for a recently turned one man band who was below the VAT threshold (another amazing find from ).

However, the important thing to look for when hiring an electrician is to get an NICEIC approved electrician.  This means that have certain levels of training and certification, as well as the ability to self-certify the works for building regulation approval.  Make sure you fully investigate their declared credentials – an honest person won’t mind you asking questions, and if in doubt you can call the NICEIC themselves to see if your chosen contractor is registered with them (as I did).

As this was a re-wire we would need a Building Regulations certificate at the end to prove that all the works were compliant with current codes of practice, which we duly received a few weeks after the works were completed.

Our original wiring was the stuff they had built the house with in the 60’s so it was in a right old state – and only a double socket per room.  Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with a house with just a single socket in each room, so I’m pretty handy with extension leads! But a re-wire was a condition of the mortgage – so it had to be done.  I’m kind of pleased though, it worked out well – we got exactly what we wanted and no more trailing leads – which is great when we have two house bunnies that like to chomp on things!

The old fuse box

The first thing to expect is mountains of dust. Mountains.  If there is any way at all, literally any way, that you can avoid living in the house whilst you are getting it done – that is the number one preferred option.
We arranged an overlap of our rented property and the new house to allow for these works, and I’m so glad that we did.  It makes it cheaper too, as the electrician doesn’t have to lug furniture about, reinstate the electrics every evening, be constantly tidy… etc.

So, to help with the mountains of dust, we bought a Henry Hoover.  He’s my new best friend.  £100 and he will have my dust needs fully under control for a lifetime of DIY, I’m sure of it.  Plaster dust kills Dysons I hear, so the Dyson took a back seat on this one.  Hopefully your electrician will also do a fair amount of hoovering, but I promise you you will be hoovering it up for weeks afterwards...

We love Henry!

Secondly, expect to take up your entire upstairs floor coverings.  Some of the electricians quoted that we would need to take up all the laminate floor in the kitchen too (argh! Nightmare!) – so I think this depends a bit on your electrician.

Make sure your electrician is fully briefed up on what you want.  I’m an engineer by trade so when I want something doing I’m well versed in preparing a specification and a set of drawings.  I pretty much did this for our electrician.  I drew up simple plans of the house and marked on where I wanted lights, switches and sockets.  The day before work commenced we also had a meeting with the electrician where we walked round the house with the electrician and marked on the walls exactly where we wanted everything as my drawings weren't to scale – but they provided a reference for the electrician in case he needed to look back during the works.  (Top tip: don’t use felt tip for marking the walls, use a pencil else the pen will keep coming through no matter how much you pint over the top.  Last resort was stain blocker paint.  Lesson learned!)
I also detailed what sort of light switches (just plain white ones) that we wanted, and which of our purchased lights were to go where.  

Typical Spec for one room

We sourced all the light fittings ourselves, and I would probably do it this way again.  I also purchased a whole house full of LED light bulbs too, to save on our energy costs (from LEDHut – often offers on and big Quidco cashback too).  At around £200 for the whole house, they weren't cheap, but this included fittings for both the bathroom and kitchen too.  One of my favourite products from them that we purchased was the LED strip lighting on a roll.  We used this underneath the kitchen cabinets and it’s just fab.

Finally, be prepared for the noise!  Our electrician, along with some assistants he had draughted in, started at 7am on a Saturday morning, ripping through the walls with the chases almost immediately.  We only got the keys Friday afternoon and had yet to introduce ourselves to the adjoining neighbor…  The horror!  When I finally met her she said it was fine, but I felt and still feel dreadful about it!

A chase ready for wiring up 

The whole re-wire (3 bed semi) took approximately 1 week; however, this did not include plastering and we had to separately price and plan this work.  The plastering was another £300-400 and took 2 days.

The living room chases post plaster

When thinking about how many sockets you want, think about how you currently use the room, and how you might possibly use the room in the future. We ended up with 10 double sockets in the living room (hey, I was talked down from 11!) – which everyone thought was balmy, but I don’t regret a single one.  By the time you have the tv, sky box, router, PlayStation, laptop charger, hoover points, Christmas tree lights etc. it soon adds up.  The more sockets you have the more flexibility it gives you too.  It sounds really daft, but imagine where you are going to put your Christmas tree, imagine where you are likely to want to plug in your hoover in an easily accessible spot (not into a socket tucked away behind that oaf of a chair…).

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