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HouseWorth
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  1. Blog
  2. Do i need to rewire my house to sell it?
House selling tips
07 October 2022

Do i need to rewire my house to sell it?

Sam Edwards
Senior Writer & Researcher
Do I need to rewire my house to sell it?

Table of contents

  1. 1. Do I need to rewire my house to sell it? - Bottom line
  2. 2. Does my house need rewiring?
  3. 3. Can you sell a house with old wiring?
  4. 4. How often should a house be rewired?
  5. 5. How to get your house rewired
  6. 6. How much does a rewire cost?
  7. 7. How long does it take to rewire a house?
  8. 8. Risks and benefits of rewiring your house
  9. 9. Is rewiring a house messy?
  10. 10. Do electricians plaster after a rewire?
  11. 11. Summary: Be prepared

If you're looking to sell your house in the near future, assessing your home's potential is a worthwhile endeavour. As we've said before, a fresh lick of paint and a good declutter can do wonders.

But when it comes to the home improvements that'll knock your property's price up a notch, some things pay more than others. And sometimes, more than money is on the line.

Safety is paramount and your home's wiring can, if faulty, pose a direct threat to new homeowners. But do you need to rewire your house to sell it?

Do I need to rewire my house to sell it? - Bottom line

No, you don't need to rewire your house to sell it. Strangely enough, electrical safety is not a legal requirement in the transfer of property ownership - but an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) may be requested by a buyer prior to an exchange of contracts.

What is an EICR test?

An Electrical Installation Condition Report determines whether the electrical installations in your home are in 'satisfactory condition' for 'continual service'. Installations are tested for compliance with Building Regulations BS 7671 (also known as IET Wiring Regulations), which are the standards for electrical installations in the UK.

Homeowners are often asked to provide this condition report as part of a house sale.

While there is no legal requirement for an EICR to be provided to a buyer, its absence or failure to appear may deter some buyers from your home.

There is a legal requirement for landlords to provide an EICR as they are responsible for the safety of their tenants. As such, the property must be wired and performing correctly.

Every five years or every change in tenancy, a fresh EICR is required to validate the safety of the rented house or apartment.

Does my house need rewiring?

If your property is over 30 years old, the existing wiring probably needs an update to meet modern standards. But how can you tell if your wires are compromised?

The warning signs

Rubber insulated cabling, lead-insulated cabling, or fabric insulated cabling

Modern cables are PVCu-coated and twin earthed, with grey or white colours. You can check their appearance by removing a switch or socket faceplate.

Cables that are clearly damaged or exposed

You can tell your wires are worn if they are frayed or sometimes emit sparks. Loose cables may be visible if they dangle from rafters.

Other signs that your house needs rewiring

It's not just wires that indicate your property needs rewiring. Look out for these red flags:

Flickering, dimming lights

Probably the easiest way to tell if your property needs a full or partial rewire is the quality of your lights.

Your fuse box is old

If you can hear crackling or smell burning metal when you're in the vicinity of your box, it’s a sure sign that you’re in need of an upgrade.

Circuit breaker tripping

If your main breaker and other branch breakers trip regularly, your wires need replacing.

Electric shocks

If you receive small electric shocks from switches and outlets, there is something seriously wrong with your wiring.

Can you sell a house with old wiring?

Yes you can! Just because your wiring is old, doesn't mean it's faulty - if it works, it works.

If your property does suffer from any of the above however, you face a bit of a conundrum. While you are legally sound to sell, faulty wiring can leave you with two problems:

  1. The buyer may pull out if the Electrical Installation Condition Report reveals the extent of your problematic installation.

When you accept an offer from an interested buyer, the buyer will usually instruct a conveyancing solicitor to take care of their legal side of the transaction. The conveyancer will encourage the buyer to carry out surveys to assess both the structural integrity of the property and its grounds, as well as historic issues involving the council and surrounding environs.

As part of a Homebuyer's Report (most common survey) the conveyancer may insist that the buyer requests for an EICR to validate the safety of your home's electrical installations. If you are unable to provide one, this alone can deter some buyers from following through with their offers. Other buyers may instead pay for an EICR to be carried out.

The results of the EICR, if found to be dire, may lead the buyer to either pull out of the sale, or renegotiate their offer. They may require electrical servicing to be carried out prior to completion, with fees paid for by you, or they may factor the costs into your asking price and reduce it.

No homeseller wants this - firstly, it puts you in a poor position on the negotiation table, and secondly, it could lead to the sale collapsing completely.

  1. You are potentially endangering the lives of the new homeowners.

Buyers, especially if they are first time buyers, may not request an EIRC to validate the electrical safety of your home. If you haven't got one already, this might be good news - one less hoop to jump through.

But if you are aware of any faulty wiring in your property, you may consider it a moral obligation to get it seen to. Faulty electrics can cause shocks that can sometimes prove fatal.

While you may be 'in the clear' within a legal sense, no one wants the weight of another person coming to harm on their conscience.

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How often should a house be rewired?

Because there are no legal obligations (unless you're a landlord) for rewiring, there are no hard rules. But the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) does recommend that a periodic inspection should be carried out by a qualified electrician every 10 years for owner occupied dwellings, and every five for rented.

If you've just moved in, you might be a little unsure about where your home stands in this timeline. If your property is older than 30 years (not a new build) and hasn't been rewired before, it probably needs an update.

It's worth noting however, that even new builds can come with poor installations - so whenever you move, always ask for a recent EICR, or purchase a condition report yourself.

Remember: If you are planning on a big renovation, a total rewire may be required. Likewise, if you are planning on extending your property, your new wiring, along with your existing installations, will need to conform to Building Regulations BS 7671.

How to get your house rewired

If you're worried about the quality of your home's wiring, you can order an EICR to be carried out by an electrician who is either registered with a government scheme, or approved by Building Control at your local authority.

You can search for registered electricians in your area by visiting Niceic.com or Elesca.co.uk and typing in your postcode.

An EICR usually takes three hours to complete, depending on the size of your property, as well as the number of light fittings, and power and lighting circuits that need testing. Once the EICR is complete, the electrician will provide you with the report. It consists of:

  • A full summary of the overall condition of electrics in your home and whether they comply with BS 7671.
  • Recommendations for where improvement may be necessary or beneficial in improving the safety of your home.

The report uses several codes to advise on the condition of existing installations:

  • Code C1 indicates that there is immediate danger and the person using the installation is at severe risk.
  • Code C2 indicates that while the deficiency is not currently dangerous, it may well become a real threat if further degeneration or fault were to occur.
  • Code C3 indicates that while the deficiency is of no immediate threat, some recommended improvements will enhance the safety of your installation.

It may be that your entire electrical system doesn't need rewiring. For instance, your old fuse box may just need replacing with a modern consumer unit to update the overall installation.

If your existing cabling needs to be rewired however, your EICR will state as much.

If the report does suggest a rewire is needed, we recommend receiving quotes from at least three registered electricians to help you pick the best of the bunch.

For work like this, always hire a qualified electrician from a local electricity utility company. They'll know exactly what work is required to make your property meet Building Regulations.

Remember: While it’s understandable to jump for the cheapest quote, you should read your estimates carefully. You may have to pay extra for additional services like chasing and plastering - if these services aren’t optional, you’ll need to factor in quotes from plasterers and decorators.

How long will it take to sell your home? Find out with GetAgent's Sell Time Estimator:

How much does a rewire cost?

A full rewire can cost anywhere from £3000 to £8000, but it all depends on the specifics of your home and additional costs like plastering.

While most electricians work within a fixed price, with rewires it’s usual for an additional power point, switch or light fitting to incur additional agreed charges. These rates are usually measured according to the duration of the task, as well as the number of circuits, power points, switches and fittings fitted.

Electricians also take the type of property into consideration when they calculate their costs. New builds, extensions and renovations can require different amounts of labour, and this is usually reflected in your quote.

How long does it take to rewire a house?

On average, it takes five to ten days for an electrician to fully rewire a property, but this depends on the size of your home, as well as the number of components you are having installed.

Risks and benefits of rewiring your house

Should you get the job done? Here are the risks and benefits:

Risks of rewiring a house

  • It's an expensive undertaking, with plasterers and decorators taking up additional costs.
  • It's usually an intrusive process, with floorboards being pulled out and holes being drilled.
  • The job can take up to ten days, possibly longer depending on the specifics of your home.
  • A shoddy job can have bad consequences. Unless you're one yourself, always choose a qualified electrician.

Benefits of rewiring a house

  • Rewiring updates the quality of your property's electrics, improving the overall safety of your home.
  • It's an opportunity to install energy-efficient alternatives to your appliances, as well as modern central heating controls.
  • You can boost your property's perceived value by demonstrating its viability as a safe and energy efficient home.
  • You can reduce the likelihood of your property being downgraded in an EICR, diminishing the chance a buyer pulls out mid-sale.
  • A full or partial rewiring is essential for large renovations and home extensions - getting it done will enable your larger developments to go ahead as planned.

Is rewiring a house messy?

It completely depends on the property. Some jobs can result in less mess, but ultimately most rewiring work is invasive, with walls being cut, chiselled and plastered again. You can expect a good deal of dust and debris.

Do electricians plaster after a rewire?

Some will and others won't - it all depends on the electrician. Always read quotes carefully to see exactly what's included within the price, and make sure to follow up with the electrician. Ultimately, their job is to complete the task they are there for, which in this case is rewiring the property.

Summary: Be prepared

If you’re a homeseller, it’s in your best interest to make your home appear as viable as reasonably possible to maximise its performance on the market. That means ensuring your wiring is both safe and efficient.

If you’re a buyer, a lot rests on making sure you get the right surveys and searches done to ensure both your safety, and your family’s. Always request for an Electrical Installation Condition Report as part of the buying process. And if you have just moved in without viewing a copy of an EICR, get a new one done as soon as possible.

Thinking about
selling your home?

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  • Free
  • Data-driven
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Thinking about
selling your home?

Picking the right estate agent is vital for a successful sale. GetAgent makes choosing simple. Discover the best performing agents in your area.

  • Free
  • Data-driven
  • No obligation

Ready to compare agents?

It takes 2 minutes. 100% free. No obligation.

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