Nationwide, rewiring a house costs between $1,500 to $10,000, but most homeowners pay an average of $2,100. These prices include the cost of labor and materials, and vary depending on the size and age of your home, the rooms being rewired, and the amount of wire that needs to be replaced.
Home rewiring involves removing the home's old wire and installing modern, non-metallic wire that's encased in plastic. Outdated wiring—especially knob-and-tube, in use from the 1880s to the 1940s, or aluminum wiring, used in many homes built between 1965 and 1972—can't handle modern electrical needs and appliances. Worse, they can be a fire hazard.
Given the dangers of outdated wiring, it's not an upgrade you should put off. The U.S. Fire Administration reported in 2017 that more than 26,000 house fires were caused by electrical problems. If your circuit breakers are tripping frequently, you detect a persistent electrical burning smell, or see charred or discolored outlets and switches, your house may need new wiring, pronto. Even if you don't see any of these signs, if your home is more than 25 years old, or you're doing a major remodel or room addition, updating your electrical wiring may be necessary.
Rewiring an entire house is a substantial but, mercifully, once-in-a-lifetime expense. Before you hire an electrician, have your home inspected to determine if you need to overhaul your electrical wiring system. Then, use this guide to get an estimate on how much it will cost to update your wiring.
What's in this cost guide?
- Labor costs for a home rewire
- House rewiring cost factors
- What happens when a home is rewired?
- How long does it take to rewire a house?
- Tips to hire an electrician to rewire a house
On average, residential electrical wiring installation costs $2 to $4 per square foot, including labor and materials. Most homeowners pay $2.75 per square foot of home space.
Electricians charge $50 to $100 an hour on average nationwide, and when pricing a rewiring job, they usually charge one hour of labor per 100 square feet of wire. You'll pay additional labor charges to update an electrical switchboard or panel, or add outlets and switches.
Apart from your electrician's rates, there are additional cost factors that could lower or raise the amount you spend to replace your old wires.
The average cost nationwide to rewire a 1,500 square foot home is $4,000. The bigger the home, the more wire and time you'll need to pull out the old wire and install the new wire. As a result, you'll pay more for material and labor.
Below is the average cost for materials and labor to install new wiring in a house based on total square feet:
|Square feet of house||Average cost|
|1,000||$2,000 to $4,000|
|1,500||$3,000 to $6,000|
|2,000||$4,000 to $8,000|
|2,500||$5,000 to $10,000|
|3,000||$6,000 to $12,000|
In older homes, electrical wiring may be harder to reach and more likely to be outdated and in need of a total replacement, so expect to pay more in labor. To preserve an older home's architectural integrity, contractors may need to cut small holes in walls so they can fish the wires through them. An older home will probably need new outlets and switches cut into the walls, too, all of which adds to labor and material costs.
Expect to pay $1,300 to $3,000 to upgrade your electrical service panel to a 200-amp system, which is the modern standard.
If you want your home's wiring system to carry more power, which is a primary reason people rewire a home, you'll need to upgrade your electrical service panel, also known as a breaker box. A full panel upgrade will include a new meter, service drop, disconnect, panel, wiring, piping, and a weather head.
Expect to pay double the price of a simpler house rewiring, or around $5 to $8 per square foot, if you need to open and repair walls during your project. Some rewiring jobs will require you to open walls to run wire or install new switches, outlets, and panels, then repair the walls after.
This is a much more complicated task than running wire through the attic or basement. Fixing walls after all of your electrical work is complete can eat up 25 to 30% of your total project costs.
Adding new electrical circuits to handle an outlet or switch costs $100 to $150 each. You can get a better price if you add several outlets or switches at a time. Most electrical codes require at least three outlets per room.
Expect to pay $200 to $900 for permits. Depending on your local code requirements, you'll probably need to pull a permit and have an inspector check the work after an electrician rewires your house. If you're having ancient knob and tube wiring replaced, you may need a special permit to do the work.
Kitchens and bathrooms usually cost the most to rewire because they need heavy duty wiring and outlets to handle large appliances, and grounded outlets near sinks. These are more complex to install, so labor costs go up. Materials cost more, too. Bedrooms, on the other hand, are the cheapest rooms to update.
For example, while the average cost to rewire a kitchen is $2,100, a Thumbtack pro and electrician in Fremont, California, charges $600 to $800 to rewire a small bedroom.
Below are the average costs to rewire different types of rooms:
|Type of room||Average cost|
|Bedroom||$200 to $800|
|Basement||$800 to $1,500|
|Bathroom||$1,000 to $2,000|
|Kitchen||$1,900 to $3,300|
Updating the wiring in your home is a fairly complex project—especially if you're tackling your whole house. Below are the steps you can expect your contractor to run through when replacing a home or room's wiring:
The electrician will access old wire through the attic, basement, crawl spaces, or floor joists and pull out the wire. In some cases, they will need to open up or tear out walls to access the wires.
This can be as simple as pulling it through attics or basements or as hard as cutting holes in drywall and fishing wire through. If the contractor had to rip open a wall to get to the old wire, he or she will then put new wire into the hole, then rebuild the walls once the new wire is in place.
If necessary, the contractor will cut holes in the wall to install new outlets and switches, swap old outlets and switches with new ones, then fix any holes left by old switches and outlets that were moved.
Homes with old wiring carry just 60 to 100 amps of electricity instead of today's standard minimum of 200 amps. Therefore, a large rewiring project will almost always include an upgrade of your electrical system's service capacity to keep up with the energy demands of contemporary life and appliances. This means adding a new electrical panel, also called a breaker box, and more circuits.
Having an electrician rewire a house takes 3 to 10 days, depending on your home's size, age, and the extent of the project. Most older homes take a week.
Rewiring can be messy and disruptive. Plan on moving out of the rooms the contractors are working in. If you're getting your whole house rewired, you may want to go stay with a friend until they're done.
Before you hire an electrician to rewire your house, follow these tips to make sure you get the right electrician for the job.
Make sure the electrician is licensed and has experience rewiring houses. Then, read reviews to check the quality of their work.
Get a written, itemized quote and ask:
- Will they need to cut into walls to run wiring? If so, does the quote include the cost of repairing the walls?
- Will they clean up after they're done, and will that require an extra fee?
Electrical work is never something you want to DIY—especially a project as large and complex as a whole house rewire. Instead, hire an experienced wiring installer near you to help. To get started, download the Thumbtack Android or iPhone app and submit a cost estimate request.