There’s no two ways about it, having a house rewired is a big job, both in terms of the disruption caused and the expense involved. It’s no wonder that homeowners put off having a rewire due to the large costs involved (typically 2 – 4 thousand pounds). This leaves many homeowners and renters wondering if it is possible to get your house rewired for free – or at least for as little money as possible.
As an electrician, I am well versed in the practicalities of carrying out a rewire but until now have not really considered what those who cannot afford to have the work done do with their potentially unsafe homes. This caused me to go on a journey to discover what help is available to those who need electrical work but can’t afford it. This post is a journey of what I learned that will hopefully help all those wrestling with the issue of safety against costs.
Is it Possible to Get Your House Rewired For Free?
It is possible for homeowners and renters to get a house rewired for free. Local councils and charities have schemes available that can provide loans or grants to help improve homes including the electrical systems. As you would expect, there are a few hoops to jump through first though.
From my research, I discovered that it is possible to get your home rewired for free but it is not a quick process. Those that wish to pursue these routes should strap in for a long ride. That being said, if you meet all the conditions that we will discuss below, the financial payoff could be huge and the energy savings a long-term financial help.
I’ll start by pointing out that from what I can see, help in the form of grants are available to those who can prove they are not in a financial position to pay for it themselves. Even if you don’t qualify for a grant, all hope is not lost though, you may qualify for a loan given by the local authority which can be paid back over time.
Home Improvement Agencies May be Able to Help With The Cost of Electrical Work
Home improvement agencies are not-for-profit organisations that exist to help homeowners or private tenants make improvements to their homes. It could be worth getting in touch with one of these agencies before applying for a loan as they may be able to offer a grant by meeting their eligibility criteria. This website lists local home improvement agencies in your area and is a great resource.
From what I can tell, these home improvement agencies typically exist to help those that are vulnerable, such as the elderly or the disabled. As they are not-for-profit organisations they obviously have limited resources to help everyone and will prioritise those they consider most in need. If a home improvement agency cannot help, another option is your local council.
Where To Start When Trying to Get Your House Rewired for Free
When trying to get electrical work done for free the first place to start is by applying for a loan from the local council. This may sound counterintuitive but local councils typically want to see that you have been turned down for one of their loans before they look at providing a grant.
My local council, Bristol City Council, can provide loans of up to £20,000 for home improvement work. They say that work over £7,500 requires multiple quotes and under that only requires one quote. This is a little surprising to me – I would always advise homeowners to get multiple quotes when having any work done, regardless of value, to ensure they are receiving a fair price.
It’s worth remembering that a loan is when a company (in this case the local council) offers to lend you the money to have home improvement work done. As it is lending money they expect it to be paid back in full over time. A grant, on the other hand, is money given that is not intended to be paid back.
Reasons You May Be Turned Down For a Home Improvement Loan From The Local Council
- Personal savings above a set limit (ie too much money saved in the bank)
- Already being over-committed financially
- Having a very poor credit history
- Having no equity in your home
The first point is pretty straightforward. If you have savings above a specified amount the local council would prefer you use your savings to have the rewire done rather than offer you a loan. The next three are to do with the ability to pay back the loan. The council (much like any lender) must be responsible in who it lends money to. It cannot lend money if the person receiving it has no real way of being able to pay it back!
I’ll quickly point out that each local council is different. My examples in this post are based on Bristol City Council as this is my local council, so doing your own research into your local council procedures is important!
You May Be Able to get a Grant to Get Your House Rewired for Free
If not eligible for a local council loan, homeowners and renters may be able to get a grant so that they can get their homes rewired for free. Each council is different but in Bristol, the limit is £7,500 in any five-year period – enough to cover the cost of most rewire projects.
From my research, I could not find a way to apply for one of these grants. Instead, it seems like you have to apply for a loan from the local council and if turned down they will contact you if they believe you are eligible for a grant.
Charities May Be Able To Help Get Electrical Work Done for Free
So it seems like getting a grant to have a house rewired for free is possible but only for certain people that meet all the criteria (ie can’t afford it themselves or can’t afford to pay back a loan), The downside as we all know is that being able to pay back a loan on paper is different to being able to actually pay it back in real life. If the idea of having to take out a loan for electrical repairs is daunting it may be worth going down the charity route first.
There are many charities out there that can help with the housing issue. Charity Shelter is perhaps the most famous in the UK and their website has a tonne of information about how to improve the standard of your home. Reaching out to one of these charities is a great way to get some independent advice and guidance. They may even be able to help with filling out all those forms when going down the local council route.
Citizens Advice has loads of great information
As well as charities, Citizens Advice has lots of information in relation to home improvement repairs when funds are limited (or non-existent) Their website has loads of great advice, especially regarding the rules that local councils must follow when assessing applications for financial assistance. I would recommend everyone check their website out as a great starting point on the road to getting electrical work done in the home for free.
This post was a big eye-opener for me. I learnt that it is possible to get your house rewired for free, but this help is only available to those who can prove they have no means to pay for the work to be done themselves.
For those who are reasonably financially stable, there is less help with home repair costs unless they meet certain disability criteria. The majority of rewires I carry out are in paying customers’ homes (some in council-owned properties) and it seems that for now at least those homeowners are going to have to keep footing the bill for the work.