Why You Shouldn’t Attempt to Rewire a House Yourself

Why You Shouldn’t Attempt to Rewire a House Yourself

DIY jobs often produce mixed results. If you’re a dab hand with a paintbrush (for example), that feature wall you had in mind might be a resounding success – or if it isn’t,  you can always paint over it and try again.

In cases such as these, the worst outcome would simply be a botched paintjob. In others , the stakes are much higher. Jobs involving gas, electricity and even water can result in injury or damage to your home (by flooding or fire) if not handled by a registered and trained professional. In some cases -such as a house rewire – they can be especially dangerous. The question “how much does it cost to rewire a house” doesn’t just relate to money  – it could cost you your life. Here’s why:

Risk Of Injury

Health and safety should come first in any scenario – especially when there is an additional  level of risk involved. According to UK consumer charity Electrical Safety First around 350,000 people are seriously injured and 70 people are killed as a result of an electrical accident in the home.  The risk of danger can come from more than one source; elder residents who may be more vulnerable to cognitive conditions such as dementia might not be best placed to keep themselves safe, while the private rental sector continues to see issues that render homes unpleasant and even dangerous to live in for tenants. Alternatively, unsafe or counterfeit products can be a cause of injury – but a major factor involved is unregulated electrical work carried out either by residents themselves, or by non-professional workers claiming to be trained and registered.

Legal Matters

The Building Act 1984 and 2000 (arising from the original Building Act 1984) exists to promote standards for structural and safety aspects of a building. In 2005 (effective as of April 2006), the UK government set out electrical safety instructions as part of the building regulations in England and Wales. Legally, you have a duty of care to anyone in your property, and in the case of electrical work, injury, fire or death due to faulty wiring could result in prosecution. Part P of Building Regulations ( applies to any changes made to electrics and wiring in any dwelling, and electricians in England and Wales must comply with these (or with the Building Standards System, if based in Scotland). 

Risk of Damage to your Home

According to Electrical Safety First, over 20,000 domestic fires are of electric origin – almost 50% of all accidental house fires in total, with misuse of cooking appliances and white goods being the main cause. Survivors of house fires might be thought of as lucky to escape with their lives – but domestic fires are traumatic events that can have lasting consequences affecting mental, emotional and financial health, particularly if the resident had a strong connection to the home they built there.

It Could Cost you More in the Long Run

According to a 2019 survey carried out by Which? the most common jobs trusted traders were called out to fix involved failed DIY attempts in the home due to residents not knowing how to carry out the work or complete it properly. Incidents including lights that residents could not switch off due to improper wiring, wiring that breached electrical regulations and improperly earthed light switches not only caused electrical faulty but left homeowners at risk of death and injury – and additionally worsened a pre-existing problem, creating more work for the tradesperson and resulting in greater expense.

…and it Could Invalidate your Home Insurance

Not only this, but attempting to take on electrical wiring work yourself could void your home insurance. An EICR (Electrical Installation Condition Report) – much like a gas safety report – is proof that your home is fit for use and safe for those who live there. According to Electrical Safety First, landlords would get a new EICR with each new tenant, or every five years (whichever is soonest).  If this is not followed, insurance companies can use this to refuse claims resulting from electrical faults – and the same applies to residential homeowners.

Most DIY-ers are familiar with the sense of satisfaction that comes with a job well done – particularly if it’s a lucky first attempt that went surprisingly well. Low-risk tasks like painting and decorating, bleeding a radiator or re-grouting tiles can leave you feeling accomplished and proud of your handiwork – but when it comes to complex electrical tasks, it simply isn’t worth the risk.  Unless you are a fully qualified and registered electrician, rewiring your home should be left to a professional. A useful resource for this is the Competent Person Electrical Register, which allows consumers to search for qualified, properly insured electricians.

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