Updating Residential Wiring to Meet Code

Updating Residential Wiring to Meet Code


Upgrading the electrical wiring in your home can seem like a daunting task, but it is an important investment to make your home safer and more energy efficient. As homes age, wiring can become outdated or even dangerous if not properly maintained. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of residential rewiring, including the codes you need to follow, costs, required permits, and step-by-step guidance on the rewiring process. I will cover key considerations like identifying problems, choosing a contractor, rewiring options, and inspecting the finished work. My goal is to equip homeowners with the knowledge to approach a rewiring project with confidence.

Electrical Codes and Requirements

The first step in any residential rewiring project is to understand the relevant electrical codes and requirements. The National Electrical Code (NEC) is the primary standard that regulates all electrical installations across the United States. Most local jurisdictions have adopted the NEC as law.

The NEC is updated every 3 years, so it's crucial to follow the newest edition adopted in your area. Key requirements include:

Your local permitting office can clarify exactly which version of the NEC applies in your jurisdiction and if there are any additional local regulations. Failing to get a permit or follow code can risk getting an electrical inspection failed.

Costs and Budgeting

The cost of rewiring a home varies greatly based on factors like:

A full rewire for a 2,000 sq. ft. home generally ranges from $8,000 to $15,000. Smaller jobs like upgrading an electrical panel may range from $2,000 - $3,000. Request quotes from multiple licensed electricians to find the best rate.


Electrical permits are mandatory for most rewiring jobs, even for minor work. The purpose is to have your project inspected by the local building department for code compliance. Expect to pay $100 to $500+ depending on the permit type and jurisdiction.

The permit process involves:

Failing to get a permit can threaten your home insurance coverage and lead to fines.

Hiring an Electrician

Rewiring is complex, high-risk work that requires an experienced professional. When hiring an electrician:

Avoid choosing an electrician based on lowest price alone. The quality of work often correlates to the rate charged.

Identifying Electrical Issues

Here are common red flags that indicate your home wiring needs upgrading:

Pay attention to these warning signs and have an electrician inspect further.

Full Home Rewires

A full rewire involves replacing all of the existing wiring in a home. This is the most thorough option, but also the most disruptive and expensive. Reasons you may need a full rewire include:

Full rewires take 1-3 weeks with walls and ceilings opened up for access. Alternative lodging is usually necessary during this invasive process.

Targeted/Partial Rewires

For minor issues, targeted "as-needed" rewiring may suffice. Scenarios include:

Partial rewires reduce costs and disruption compared to a full home rewire. But they should still follow electrical codes.

Rewiring Process Step-by-Step

The rewiring process generally involves:

  1. Electrical assessment - An electrician will evaluate current wiring and electrical needs room-by-room.

  2. Getting permits - The electrician obtains necessary permits for the planned work.

  3. Preparation - Furniture is moved to the center of rooms and covered. Wall holes are drilled for pulling wires.

  4. Wiring installation - Existing wiring disconnected, and new wires pulled through walls/ceilings and connected.

  5. Inspections - An inspector verifies wiring meets NEC codes after major stages.

  6. Cleanup - Walls patched, paint touched up, and furniture replaced.

  7. Final inspection - If wiring passes final inspection, a certificate of approval is issued.

Leave rewiring to trained electricians. Attempting electrical work without permits or expertise risks shock hazards and fire danger.

Inspecting the Completed Work

When the rewiring is finished, thoroughly inspect all electrical components including:

Do not sign off or make final payment until fully satisfied with the quality and functionality of the rewiring project.


While rewiring a home is a major undertaking, it is a smart investment that brings your electrical system up to modern safety codes. Follow the proper steps for permits, hiring a qualified electrician, and inspecting the work. Understand your options ranging from targeted circuit upgrades to a whole home rewire. With proper planning and preparation, you can complete a residential rewiring project with favorable results. Your home will gain the capacity to meet today's electrical needs and function safely for years to come.