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To re-wire or not?

(41 Posts)
grumbleina Wed 28-Jan-15 21:44:13

The flat: is from the 30s, brick. It was built quite well I think, originally. When we bought it it had been squatted, and prior to that... god knows, but nobody had looked after it properly for a good while. It. Was. Minging.

The electrics: are OLD. Very old.

We've had a bunch of sparks through, and had three of five tell us that providing it passes tests, they can do the things that DO need doing (new consumer unit) and things we want (more sockets and some bathroom stuff) but a full re-wire may not be necessary.

Needless to say this will be cheaper. Much cheaper. They can certify it, but not for a great length - they say they'd mark it as needing testing every year. But they have said that the wiring we have could last another good length of time, and the certification is more about their regulations than doubt about the wiring.

We had budgeted for a full re-wire. But obviously saving extra £1000+ not doing the re-wire would be very nice.

I'm leaning towards doing it all - saves doing it later, we intended it do it, we can afford to do it.

But do we need to? Is this something that would add significant value if we decide to sell? Is there a genuine risk in not doing it?

superram Wed 28-Jan-15 21:48:18

I would do it as it is messy and touches every room. I would do it and wait for bathroom stuff. If you do it now it is out of the way and you won't need to decorate every too in 5 years. Why take the risk of your house burning down or of electrocution?

SoupDragon Wed 28-Jan-15 21:54:03

I would rewire it.

WhatKatyDidnt Thu 29-Jan-15 08:55:41

I would rewire too. If you stay in the flat you will have peace of mind and even if you sell a recent rewire will be a big plus.

Flomple Thu 29-Jan-15 12:52:08

If 3 of them said it doesn't need doing, I wouldn't worry about the safety of not doing it.

However if you are planning to stay there a long time, I'd do the rewire now before you redecorate. It'll be an enormous PITA to do later, and it would end up costing more in the end.

shovetheholly Thu 29-Jan-15 15:29:02

Definitely rewire. The £1000 is nothing compared to the hassle of trying to do it at a later point. (Trust me, I am there!)

fluffygreentail Thu 29-Jan-15 16:24:31

just do it asap, esp if you've already got a budget for it. decorate after the rewire. if you decorate before a re wire, you're just wasting your money and effort.

we were in our house a year before a rewire and our electrician said that the lights previous owner had in bathroom it could have caused a fire shock!

why on earth would you want the hassle of having it checked each year (mean that in a nice way)?

grumbleina Thu 29-Jan-15 17:22:53

Thanks all. This is what I thought too - just wanted to make sure I wasn't going to get a chorus of 'no no don't bother, haven't rewired my house in 192 years and it's totally fine'.

TreadSoftlyOnMyDreams Thu 29-Jan-15 18:15:46

We rewired for the peace of mind and the hassle factor later.

Much easier to do it now, but get them to all to competitively requote on the basis of putting in lots of useful extra sockets and not just replacing what's there. Also get a fuse board with surge protection - my whole street needed new phones, tv's and all kinds after a lightening strike.

Flomple Thu 29-Jan-15 18:27:32

Oh, we haven't rewired in nearly 192 years and it's totally fine. But if we were starting from scratch with the decor I'd definitely get it done, it's a great opportunity.

TeddyBee Thu 29-Jan-15 18:44:58

Definitely do it now - we left it in our thirties house and bitterly regretted it. We had two electrical fires (minor thankfully) and had to hire a generator for our builders because our knackered electrics couldn't cope. And we had to do it at a time we hadn't budgeted for it so it was a total pita.

unlucky83 Thu 29-Jan-15 18:48:59

Another one saying rewire - I had our 1970s house renovation rewired...even in a stripped out shell it made a hell of a mess....then you will have to get it patched -or replastered ...
And make sure you have lots and lots of sockets (at least 4 double in each bedroom)...an extra socket or two when they have every thing ripped out doesn't cost much more...and they probably can put extra phone sockets and aerial points in at the same time..and hard wired smoke alarms -maybe a house alarm too...
Glad I had it done...previous owner of current house we called 'Mr Bodge-it' -have found lots of amazing DIY - mainly plumbing related...however when I had a new kitchen I had just the kitchen rewired and a new consumer unit. The wiring tested fine -
BUT I have still found some interesting things ...there is a socket in the under stairs cupboard - I've used on and off but rarely over the years (don't know why it is there - maybe for a freezer?). Anyway after the new board when I plugged my hoover in it tripped ...the downstairs lighting circuit hmm My brother (lives a long way away but an electrician) thinks it must be tapped into the lighting circuit -so max 5 amp load and should have blown the old fuse -but he suspects that fuse had been replaced with something more heavy duty shock
Also discovered a metal light switch - for lighting fitted into the eaves cupboard -was not earthed. Worse it is accessed through a small door.....straight from the bathroom ...just waiting for someone to flick with a wet hand shock...
Also a light he had put in the understair cupboard - (a bulb holder at head height when you are crawling in there - no protection) was switched neutral shock means that even when turned off at the switch the light fitting is still live (why in theory you should always turn off at the 'mains' when changing a bulb...)

WandaFuca Thu 29-Jan-15 20:49:48

If there's no evidence of a complete rewire in recent times, then definitely rewire - it's worth it just for the peace of mind. Although the wiring in the walls, even from the 1930s, might well be stable, the original installation would have been for 1930s living. And originally that would have meant one or possibly two sockets per room.

Insufficient sockets leads to over-use of extension cords and trailing cables for all our gadgets. Some kitchen appliances can draw a lot of power, and electric stoves/ovens need a dedicated power supply. You don't want to be in a situation where you're doing a massive amount of laundry, while doing a lot of batch-cooking, only to find you've overloaded the consumer board and it trips out.

I'm a little bit surprised that some of the electricians didn't suggest a complete rewire. But a complete rewire, even of a flat, is quite a big job, and maybe they didn't have enough space in their diary for that.

As well as getting all the messy stuff done in one fell swoop now rather than when there's an unexpected issue further down the line, there's also the bonus of it looking good on your flat's "CV" should you later put it on the market.

grumbleina Thu 29-Jan-15 21:44:40

This is all excellent to hear.

I know it's going to be a disgusting mess, but that's fine, it genuinely can't be worse than it was before.

Our fuse board never trips because it wasn't built to. Or something. Basically, it's so old that it just lets anything happen. Truly, it's one of those ones that makes tradesmen raise their eyebrows and go 'yeah that needs to go.'

The boiler is currently running off a fourway.
And, um, not everything is earthed, apparently.

I was surprised not everyone suggested a re-wire. Especially since that was what we'd asked them to quote on. Two did, and three were very much of the 'you might not need to' school. Not sure why, it's strange. Everything's encased in metal pipes which apparently helps. Who knows.

Teddy that's exactly the sort of thing I'm worried about.

Somethingtodo Thu 29-Jan-15 22:41:43

if they are saying doesnt need a rewire - but a patch-up and then annual testing - that sounds like a nightmare - how much does it cost each year to test and what happens if it fails next year or the year after once you have decorated - it is a hideous job - and if you needed to sell and it came up on a survey many people would see that as a major job - not just the cost but the disruption...

TeddyBee Fri 30-Jan-15 00:42:52

Yes, our garage caught fire and then about a year later our kitchen went spectacularly bang. Turned out the junction boxes were lying on the damp earth under the house and were full of water. Which was good in a way as it meant that only one socket actually caught fire, the rest of it was too damp to burn. The garage is the one that scared me as it was arcing between two cables over a literal pile of empty paint tins and oily rags. Only because I was in there when it caught did we avoid a disaster.

LucidCamel Fri 30-Jan-15 01:05:21

I am a sparky.

*The boiler is currently running off a fourway.
And, um, not everything is earthed, apparently. *

You definitely need to rewire.

LucidCamel Fri 30-Jan-15 01:43:40

I should add... I could probably get you safe for a short time while you got the budget together for a full rewire which may be what the other three were hinting at. But you do need to go full rewire.

grumbleina Fri 30-Jan-15 08:32:04

Lucid thanks! It's actually not a money problem - we have the funds, it was more that I was surprised to have more than one guy suggest not re-wiring. Given the examples of earthing and boiler (and they're not the only things) we thought it was a given that it would need doing and budgeted accordingly.

So yeah I pretty much just wanted to check that other people thought we should do it too. I do think maybe the guys who suggested not doing it thought we were broker than we are or something. We do tend to give that impression... Or maybe it's a london thing, people just patch up and sell on. Wouldn't be surprised if that was the case now I think about it.

PurpleWithRed Fri 30-Jan-15 08:46:22

While you are at it, if your doors open the wrong way get them rehinged to open flat against the wall and move the light switch to the opening side.

When you've worked out the maximum number of power points you could possibly ever need add at least two more per room.

Get an outside socket put in if you have an outside (garden/driveway/balcony)

Have you budgeted for all the redecoration you're going to need afterwards? And the gin?

grumbleina Fri 30-Jan-15 09:06:11

haaaa purple oh yes, the gin budget.

Door is I think going to be bifold, as the bathroom opens into the hall by the front door and at present if the door's open it blocks the hallway entirely. DH is sad because we can't get a bifold that matches the other doors, but I'm insisting. And yes, switch outside. And extractor that is separately controlled from lights (learned that one on mumsnet).

We're fine for redecorating. We HAVE done things in a slightly wrong order, because buying the flat meant we couldn't afford too many big things for a while - and the fact that it had no hot water or heat took precedence, to begin with, so that took our remaining big chunk of cash. But then I couldn't live with the grottiness, so there's been a fair bit of DIY decorating - which will now get partly ruined, but at least I know how to fix it, and we knew it was coming, so no biggie.

Sockets is a good one and we're probably undercounting as we don't do telly, or many electric appliances at all really. So maybe I'll add an extra few just in case.

unlucky83 Fri 30-Jan-15 10:09:53

Definitely do extra sockets -I don't think you can really have too many - you don't have to use them!
In my planned layouts of bedrooms etc I'll have some behind wardrobes etc. But that's fine because I have so many I don't 'need' them - and if I get new furniture or decide to reorganise rooms I won't be (as tied) to where the sockets are ...
(Also if you have DCs lots of teenagers overload sockets with hairdryers, straighteners, mobile/laptop/tablet chargers etc -I know a fireman with a teenager daughter who is constantly taking extension cables/double adaptors off her! )
And YY to the doors -I've done that too! And the bathroom extractor...

And Lucid could probably explain this better but if you have loft space make sure the cable that runs through is more than minimum spec and there is spare cable length too. We have been constantly told to increase the depth of loft insulation - now we are at nearly 30cm (rockwool) but cables shouldn't be covered! (they could overheat) -used to be 10cm
If you have enough slack it should allow you to put the cable over any future increases in insulation thickness and if the cable is rated highly enough and it does have to be covered for short lengths there is less chance of overheating....
(At the moment insulation thickness doesn't 'matter' (except for personal energy saving) unless you are trying to sell - would bring the houses energy rating right down ...and we don't know what is going to happen in the future - depth may be further increased, penalties for insufficient insulation etc etc )

grumbleina Fri 30-Jan-15 10:29:24

So how many sockets do we need, do you think?

It's a 2 bed flat. Currently plan is

Master bedroom - 1 double either side of bed + 1 double behind wardrobe.
Spare bedroom (a 'london double' so, a double if you don't like floorspace) - 2 x double sockets
Living room - 2 x doubles either side of fireplace, 1 x double on facing wall
Kitchen - 4 x doubles in pairs either end of bench, sockets for fridge and cooker under bench (open shelving), boiler and washer sockets in boiler cupboard and 1 x double on the floor near the door.

You're all going to say it's much too few, aren't you.

shovetheholly Fri 30-Jan-15 10:34:56

OP - I'm really sorry, do you mind if I ask a practical question about rewiring here?

Our house is a basket case and we stupidly didn't rewire our house as a priority, and have found out since that it needs doing. Because I have decorated certain rooms and caused myself problems this way, I have decided to tackle it a couple of circuits at a time. So I have had one circuit redone when I had a couple of rooms done up a while ago.

The sparky took one of those circular saw power tools and cut a hole in the wall for new sockets. The dust that this created was absolutely awful - it was literally billowing out of the open windows to the point that a neighbour asked if we had a fire! I didn't mind the rooms being filthy, because we were knocking the plaster back to brick - it looked like a building site! But even though we had the doors of closed, the dust from this one job spread over the entire house and took literally days to clean up. I even had to wash all the carpets. It was an absolute nightmare.

Now I really need to sort out my hall, which would entail doing another circuit. But I just can't face that amount of filth again. Is there a tidier way?

shovetheholly Fri 30-Jan-15 10:39:25

grumbelina - I do think you might want a few more in your kitchen, bedroom, and especially living room.

We have 4 doubles in the master bedroom and we regularly use all of them (two stereo separates, nightlights and phone chargers, hairdryer).

For the living room - make a list of all the electrical goods that you already have, and those you'd like to have one day (don't forget lamps and portable things like ipads, laptops!), assume you're using them all at once and add a spare! In our living room we have 2 doubles behind the TV, two behind the stereo, one either side of the sofa (lamp plus laptop), and we have a separate dining room as well with that many again!

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