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4squareowner1
how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

As one of many upgrades needed to our 1920s Chicago-area 4 square house, we're considering re-wiring our house that has knob and tube wires and plaster walls throughout. We also want to upgrade our panel to 200 amps. We have basement and attic access.

What's a reasonable cost range that we can expect for a whole house re-wiring project, including patching any wall damage?

Also - I've heard some electricians will only do time and materials estimates. How long do such projects typically take if done full time and how many people usually work on it - 1, 2 or more people?

I realize there are a lot of variables involved with the project, but any rough estimates are really appreciated.

function
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

Rough estimates are not possible for the reasons you mentioned, too many variables. Your location, permits, availability and quality of contractors, condition of your walls etc all play into factor. You may be able to get better detail if you seek a forum that is very specific to your neighborhood or part of your city, but the cost where I am could be 2k more or less than the cost for you and the cost in Baltimore and the cost in Sacramento.

You mentioned you already had estimates for time and materials, if that is the way more than one contractor quoted you, that is kind of what you just have to deal with. If that is the way only one contractor quoted you, it's time to find more contractors.

Even your electrician can't tell what all the variables are until the team is making holes in your walls and pulling wires in the attic.

dj1
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

Function is right, prices do vary widely.

An upgrade to a 200AMP panel in my city, where the pole is nearby, is about 2K.
Rewire job? you need an electrician to look at the house for an estimate. The amount will probably shock you.

BTW, in my city, a panel upgrade and wiring must be done with a permit, by a licensed electrician. All work is closely checked and signed off.

4squareowner1
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

Thanks. I understand. Does $25K - $30K seem ridiculous for a re-wiring and subsequent wall repair project? We did get a rough estimate in that ballpark years back when a contractor was at our house doing some other repair work. It seemed very high compared to the little bit of research I've been able to find on the internet.

MLB Construction
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

sounds possible but high to me. there are many many variables. get at least 3-4 estimates, see what they say then let us know.

4squareowner1
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

Thanks. Will do.

Fencepost
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

Rewiring an entire house is a very labor-intensive job. If the house is being lived in at the time, it's even more labor intensive since wiring must be left functional at the end of each day. Materials alone may only be a few thousand, but labor can easily consume five to ten times the cost of materials, and certainly much more costly than for new construction.

A. Spruce
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?
4squareowner1 wrote:

Thanks. I understand. Does $25K - $30K seem ridiculous for a re-wiring and subsequent wall repair project? We did get a rough estimate in that ballpark years back when a contractor was at our house doing some other repair work. It seemed very high compared to the little bit of research I've been able to find on the internet.

As everyone has said, it will be hard to even give you a ballpark without viewing the project for ourselves and knowing the local requirements. Your $25-30K sounds about right, but too many variables to say for sure. Any one of the contractors bidding this at time and materials should be able to ballpark the total costs, but will not put it into writing because of the unknown variables.

Another thing to consider, if you're only talking to an electrician, sparky is only going to give you a price for the work that he does, which will be electrical related only, it won't include repair of any wall damage, or trenching to get the new feed from the pole to the house. You are going to need someone to repair the plaster, someone experienced with plaster if you want to stay original. This is where it may be better to hire a general contractor rather than trade specific craftsmen.

4squareowner1
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

Thanks so much. Is it better to get a quote based on time and materials or a set fee or does it not make a difference?

Mark_H
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?
4squareowner1 wrote:

Does $25K - $30K seem ridiculous for a re-wiring and subsequent wall repair project? .... It seemed very high compared to the little bit of research I've been able to find on the internet.

I'm a serious DIYer who had the pleasure of remodeling, putting an addition on and rewiring my mother in laws 4 square type house.

The memory of cutting an old work box into a lath and "horse hair plaster" wall made me shudder. And that was just the beginning.

That much money to make an old house NEC and/ or ADA compliant while leaving as much original as possible? I can see it if only to keep you from asking me to do the job because it would be a nightmare.

I'll bet you could reduce the estimates somewhat if you reskinned some walls with drywall.

If it were my house I would do it myself, write off whatever walls needed reskinned, and do it in stages. Around here the inspector(s) don't care who does the work (electrician or owner) or installs the service panel as long as it meats code and passes inspection.

MLB Construction
Re: how much does re-wiring an old house cost?

i agree with mark that you can do alot of it yourself......BUT.....i think it's a big mistake for anyone that is not a licensed electrician to change a service or fiddle with anything inside an electric panel....not only is personal safety extremely important, having it done by a professional is extremely important to avoid burning a house down.

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