Can You Rewire A House Yourself? (How To Get Involved)

Asking an electrician, can you rewire a house yourself? is much like asking a chicken if you should pop to KFC for your dinner; the answer is going to be more than a little self-serving. However, just because an answer is self-serving does not make it any less true.

In the case of our good friend the chicken, I am sure he could point out all the benefits of becoming vegetarian, in much the same way as an electrician I can argue why you shouldn’t even consider rewiring a house yourself. But do not be disheartened, there are plenty of things that you can do to get involved and keep the rewire cost down.

Rewiring a house yourself could lead to a world of pain
Rewiring a house yourself could lead to a world of pain

Can You Rewire Your House Yourself?

It may sound self-serving to say coming from an electrician, but homeowners should not attempt to rewire a house themselves. Apart from the obvious safety issues that can result from DIY electrical work, finding an electrician who is willing to sign the work off is going to be a huge challenge.

Why You Shouldn’t Rewire a House Yourself

We’ll briefly touch on the safety aspect first because it is the most important reason why you shouldn’t rewire a house yourself, but I know that those keen to get involved in wiring their own home will believe they can learn to do it safely by watching youtube videos and reading up. When working with electricity, safety is a serious matter as mistakes can be fatal. Rewiring a house is a major project and there are lots of mistakes that can easily be made by unqualified people.

Even an apprentice studying electrical work full time would not be expected to rewire a house until they have completed their four or five-year apprenticeship as a rewire combines so many aspects from multiple different installation work through to testing and fault finding to make sure everything is functioning correctly. The testing point leads us to the second main reason rewiring your house yourself is a bad idea.

Infographic showing how to help with a rewire

Rewiring a House is Notifiable Work

Rewiring a house is notifiable work. This means that on completion the electrician needs to inform the local authority that the work has been completed to an acceptable standard and supply evidence of this in the form of completed test sheets.

Aside from testing the installation after the work to demonstrate it has been completed safely and meets the current edition of the wiring regulations (BS7671) it is also important to use the test forms to show we are meeting our legal responsibility as a homeowner. If we want to let the property out, or the time comes to sell it, we will need to produce test certificates for all construction work that has been carried out.

Getting an Electrician to Test and Sign the Work Off is Going to Be Tricky

At this point, some readers may be thinking that they could get around some of the obstacles by completing the rewire themselves and get an electrician in at the end to test it all and provide the required certificate and notification to the local authority. The problem with this idea is that finding an electrician willing to do this is going to be tough going.

When electricians sign an installation certificate, EICR or any other test certificate they are personally vouching for the electrical installation that it is safe for continued use. This is serious stuff. If an accident were to occur, or god forbid a fatality, the electrician whose name is on the test form is most likely to find themselves in the dock answering lots of questions about the testing they carried out.

Due to this high level of responsibility, and general professional conduct, electricians are very selective about what they are willing to put their name to. An electrician will want to know the installation has been carried out in accordance with the regs and as they haven’t done the work, they are most likely to turn down the offer to come and test it, even if you do offer to “pay in cash mate”

There’s Lots Homeowners Can Do to Get Involved

So far I feel a right Debbie-Downer saying why homeowners can’t do this and can’t do that in their own homes. It’s only with the best intentions at heart to help keep people safe and prevent wasting lots of time and money.

Although in my opinion rewiring your house yourself is out of the question there’s still lots that homeowners can do to get involved and help with the rewire. Below is a few examples of tasks the electrician carrying out the work may gladly accept a helping hand on:

Chasing wallsThe electrician can mark out the safe zones and the homeowner can help to cut the chases and make the channels for the cables to run in
Pulling cablesTrying to pull cables by yourself is a real pain, you kind of need to be in two places at once. Having a homeowner’s help could be a huge timesaver.
Lifting carpets and floorboardsI wouldn’t start just ripping up random floorboards, but after discussing with the electrician the various routes, they will probably be more than happy to have someone help move the furniture, pull the carpets back and lift the floorboards
RedecoratingRedecorating after a rewire is a major job, having the homeowner plaster and fill holes will keep costs down
CleaningI know this is more of a boring one but a clean place to work in is so much nicer. Work just flows a lot smoother and the cleaner the site stays the more everyone tries to keep it that way
Table showing ways homeowners can help with a rewire

The table above is just a few ways in which homeowners can get involved and help the electricians during the rewire. Simply clearing out the loft a little will make a huge difference. As a bonus to all this helping, most people will be amazed at how much they can pick up in a relatively short amount of time.

Final Thoughts

Rewiring a house is a big job and whilst homeowners should never rewire a house themselves, this is not to say that keen DIYers should feel like they can’t get involved. Assuming the electrician is happy to have the help, for those who are keen, why not take a couple of weeks off work and experience life as an electrician’s mate?

Not only will helping out save time and help cut costs, but homeowners may also really enjoy it and you never know it may lead to a whole new career change. A word of caution though, if you ask the electrician if they need help and they politely turn the offer down it is best to listen. Rewires can be cramped environments at times and too many bodies can quickly become a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Dave Nicholas

I have worked as a professional electrician for many years and like to use my experience to help others in any little way I can.

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