Entire home rewire by non-pro..

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by gt0157c, Nov 28, 2007.

  1. gt0157c

    gt0157c New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Yes, I realize this will not be recommended and is dangerous. I just can't pay someone $25K to do this for me when I'm pretty confident and capable. My question is what I am legally allowed to do? Aren't I allowed to do this even though I'm not licensed electrician because I'm the homeowner? Is there a limit to what I can do? If I have to upgrade to 400A can I do this as well? Ideally, I would have a licensed electrician help out but I know this can be sticky. This is in AL btw...

    Thanks,
    G
  2. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    That depends on your town. My town would let you do it. You'd of course have to have all the requisite inspections (rough and finished). Personally, I think it's a bad idea, though. You might not know what you don't know. On a job that big, I'd trust it to a pro. Run the low voltage stuff yrself if you really want to save (ethernet - does anyone still have this???, audio, phone, cable).
  3. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Since you are looking at saving $25,000 you can afford to spend something on tools and learning.

    You may find that you can use a lot of what is already in the walls if you don't plan to tear down the wall material.

    I suggest that you get a permit immeditely because the new 2008 code requires Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters in every 120 Volt, 15 or 20 Amp residential circuit. They are very expensive, unreliable, and a pain in the butt.

    Buy a copy of the applicable code, preferably with the notes. You should also get a good manual on residential wiring.

    Read some of the material on www.mikeholt.com . They won't help non-professionals but you can learn a lot and you may learn how you can ask questions in a way that won't make it look like you are an amatuer.

    If you don't know how residential systems work, spend some time learning about how 120 and 240 Volt circuits work in a residential installation. Learn it until you can do it without thinking about it.

    If you are living in the home while doing the rewiring, then you can do it is pieces.

    At some point you will want to replace the service. That is possible but can be difficult for an amatuer. I have posted a couple of descriptions in this forum about how I planned and did mine with minimum interruption of service.

    You need to do a lot of planning before you start stringing wire. It will save you a lot of time.
  4. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689

    Hold on to that thought

    How much will it cost to replace your belongings or to bury your family (or the unsuspecting family that buys the house someday)?


    Probably. Check with your city/county

    What do you do for a living? Work some overtime doing waht you are trained to do and use that money to upgrade your electrical


    GAAAAHHH!!!

    Aluminum is not necessarily dangerous if installed correctly. Once the homeowners start messing with it, all bets are off.

    If it was built in the early 70's you probably don't even NEED to completely rewire, just tune it up a bit.
  5. gt0157c

    gt0157c New Member

    Messages:
    4
    First off, thanks for the responses. I realize that the majority of the feedback would not be in favor of me attempting this but I appreciate it being constructive. I understand that this is dangerous and is not to be underestimated and I'm not. That's actually why I'm here and not running wire right now. That said, some more info:

    First of all I am an engineer by profession. Allthough I am a mechanical, I have had my share of electronics/circuits coursework. I actually have a decent understanding of electronic theory, but realize that I am lacking in practical knowledge and code. Unfortunately being an engineer means is that I refuse to belive that there are somethings I can't/shouldn't do myself. It also makes me very detailed, planning, and makes me want things done right. I guess it also makes me cheap...

    I have already purchased the 2008 NEC as well as an illustrated book on residential wiring for some specific information. I've attempted a load calculation and although I'm not 100% on my numbers I'm pretty sure I would be maxed out or just over 200A. Believe me, I would rather not go to 400A if I didn't think it was necessary. I'm working on an electrical plan now complete with AFCI/GFCI circuits where I know they're needed.

    Here's the Ugly:
    House is 1905. 150A service. Knob and tube with some patchwork upgrades throughout the years. ~4500 sq ft with unfinished basement, basement appartment, detached garage (small). Currently no A/C and OLD gas-converted coal furnace. Probably ~7 tons of HVAC and most likely heat pump needed.

    Ideally I would like to have an electrician (real) bring in the service and two sub panels, D/S and U/S. I would just do the dirty work of snaking and crawling around in the attic and basement. I would basically run the branch circuits which would all be simple. No 3/4 way switches, just outlets and basic lights. It's an old house and all I want to do is replace the what's there to make it safe and upgrade the service. I would like to remove as much of the knob&tube as possible.

    The other problem I have is that I don't want to be forced to rewire the WHOLE house. The basement appartment may not even be used and bringing it up to code would be a mess that's just not worth it. Once I get into this though, I'm assuming an inspector would require it. $25K may not even cover this. I could be looking at much more.

    Is there any middle of the road solution between me doing the whole thing (not wise) and electrician doing the whole thing (too expensive). Do I just have to find an electrician that will "play ball". I know that's not right but what are my other choices? How can I avoid upgrading the appartment no matter what?

    BTW, not using ANY aluminum. I meant that I live in Alabama. Hold your jokes please...

    Thanks,
    G
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,819
    Location:
    New England
    As I understand it, you don't have to tear out the knob and tube, but can leave it in place. You should not be required to update areas that you are not changing. That's a big house. It might be cost effective to do as much as possible to tighten it up and insulate as much as possible.
  7. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    I think it is entirely do-able. The first thing to do is to learn what code will be enforced and get a copy. Obviously you won't need to read anything about airplane hangers, service stations, motion picture theaters or health care facilities but do read the parts that are common (definitions wiring methods and the like) along with all the "dwelling unit" chapters.
  8. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The minimum calculated load usually results if you use the Part IV Optional Feeder and Service Load Calculations (See 220.82).

    If you use Part III then you will get some reduction when you take into account the reduced loads assigned to ranges and ovens as described in Table 220.55.

    A mechanical engineer should not have any problem figuring out how things are supposed to work.
  9. Livin4Real

    Livin4Real New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    Just rewired my entire home as well. I had a pro install the new panel and horsecock ( :D ) while doing so I asked if he was ok with me watching and asking questions and explained what I was planning on doing and he was very nice and had no problem sharing information.I know my intellectual limits and would never do anything I don't fully understand. I did alot of research before and during the rewire that helped tremendously. Common sense goes a long way along with patience and a willingness to read and also to err on the side of caution and hire something out that you don't feel comfortable with.
  10. Bassman

    Bassman DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Ventura, CA
    Oh, geez, do NOT have the kids around when you Google "horsecock"!
  11. Livin4Real

    Livin4Real New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN

    :p In case you didn't find it by google, it's the main power lines coming into the panel from the meter, referred to as such do to it's "girth" ;) This was a question I didn't have to ask the pro lol.
  12. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Have you gotten any bids in writing or was $25.000.00 a guess.

    Where I am from the inspectors want to be able to see all the rough in wiring and they wont crawl around in an attic to see it. They would want ceilings open and all walls open and they would be especially hard on a DIY person knowing that they are DIY.
  13. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    I'm an electrical engineer.

    I'm thankful this forum is so helpful; got me through a basement remodel.

    But I gotta say, I'm nervous about you doing yr whole house. I've done a fair amount of electrical work at home. It was only after running the electric to my basement bathroom that I realized the difference between myself and a professional electrician.
  14. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    I'd bet your guess of $25k is way off. I think it would be closer to $50k. Given that you'd like to keep the walls.

    I think you can do it. You'll need to be really organized and be willing to do lots of patch work. You're going to have to open large holes near every electrical box. If you have a low pitch roof, I'm guessing that you do because of the size of the house, then you are going to ahve to open holes in the celing and walls to get through the top plates of exterior walls.

    Basically you are about to embark on a major mission. Are you skilled in general construction like, drywall repair, trim, paint, texturing etc.....?

    Do you have a good set of tools?

    If I were planning on remodeling this place I would dump all the walls and fix everything. If the house has knob and tube I bet it has galvanized plumbing. Maybe it's time to do the whole thing.

    Also you'll have to ask the pros around here but if you bring a room up to electrical code you'll have to bring it up to code completely. Like there needs to be an electrical outlet every 6' of wall, 3-way switches in hallways, might as well drop an AC fire alarm system while you're in there etc..... The pros here will let you know what you "need" to do.

    Just some thoughts.

    Tom
  15. 480sparky

    480sparky In the Trades

    Messages:
    149
    Not every 6 feet, every 12. Technically, any point along the wall can be no more than 6 feet from an outlet. Start at the door, and the first outlet can be no more than 6 feet away. The next one can be 12, measured along the wall, not 'as the crow flies'.

    That aside, the requirements of 210.52 can get pretty involved (2-foot wall spaces, kitchen countertops, fixed door panels, etc).

    Also, the NEC does not require 3-ways anywhere. Nor smoke detectors.... that is in the building codes.
  16. rdtompki

    rdtompki New Member

    Messages:
    115
    Location:
    Iowa
    If you have conventional, textured drywall I would find a good drywall contractor and leave all the repair work up to those folks. I've done a lot of remodel in our home and these guys are magicians at matching texture. It's also the least expensive trade and yet the most visible part of a remodel.

    Best $400 I ever spent doing remodel of a large master bath (250 ft. sq.) was to have someone vacuum out my blown in ceiling insulation so I could pull down the sheetrock. This let me do all the plumbing and rewiring from below. You might consider this in a few areas of your house, especially the kitchen which typically has the greatest concentration of loads. The other problem in the kitchen will be the backsplash which is likely tiled. You will probably want to open this up in order to rewire these outlets. The MB I recently finished has 13-14 lights, two whirlpool circuites, etc.

    Rick
  17. gt0157c

    gt0157c New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Great Info!

    Thanks again for the advice. I have s few comments/questions. I'll probably have a courtesy inspection soon so I'll be able to find out some of this directly but...

    Is there such a thing as a "35%" rule that states that if I upgrade more than 35% of the electrical I have to go ahead and do it all and therefore bring the house fully up to code? This would require me to do the basement appartment and EVERY detail of 2008 code.

    Can I have outlets in the baseboards in this older home or do I have to move them up to 16" or whatever the spec is. I have plaster walls so this becomes huge...

    Is it true that a licensed electrician cannot connect their work to mine (non-licensed)? This kills my hopes of doing some of the work myself and having a pro do the mains, panels, etc. This is where I have to have an electrician that will "work with me".

    $25K for an upgrade is only an estimate, not a quote. I've just never heard of a full rewire for less than $20K and based on the size and age of the house I just can't imagine it being any less than $25K and probably a lot more. Did I mention plaster walls and minimal removal? This is why I need to do it as I realize it's going to be a pain. Still, it's not rocket science and I just don't want to pay a pro salary to do the dirty work. I'm fine with paying for knowledge I don't have, but my backwork is free and just as good as anyone's...

    I do have pleanty of general construction/handyman experience. I've been through a 1908 remodel that involved structural, framing, plumbing, electrical, drywall, etc, etc,. I haven't seen it all but I do realize what I'm getting into. I've learned not to underestimate any project in an older home as you never know what you'll find. This is by no means an exception.

    The house does have galvanized pipes and I don't want to replace if I don't have to. If necessary, I'm "licensed" and experienced with pex...

    I am planning on AFCI/GFCI and linked smoke detectors as I thought they were required by 2008...

    G
  18. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    There is no height above floor requirement on standard wall outlets.

    There is nothing in the NEC about a requirement to change it all if you do a certain percentage. There is a requirement that if you put in a new circuit that it must be to code.

    There are code provisions permitting the extension of ungrounded circuits that may exist. You will probably need to use those provisions if you want/need to leave ungrounded circuits in some walls.

    There is nothing about a licensed electrician not connecting to work by others. They are responsible for their own work. They might not want to connect to a non-compliant circuit. Also, it would be best to not do work yourself while they are doing their part. I would have my own work inspected; let the electrician do his work and have it inspected; then do any more work that I wanted to do.

    If you are going to have the service upgrade done professionally, I would have that done first and hook up the existing panel as a subpanel to be removed later. You could leave your existing circuits in place while you connect the new circuits to the new panel. If the new main is close to the old you might be able to extend the circuits to the new and rip out the old panel.

    You don't want to connect a bunch of new circuits to the old panel and then have to move them.

    The code that applies is usually the code that is in force when you pull the permit. That is why you might want to pull the permit in 2007 so the 2005 code applies. The new AFCI will be very expensive and many electricians feel that it is a useless device, not reliable and not well developed, pushed by the manufacturers.
  19. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689

    Well...you just lost me there.

    I am one of those "do it right" kind of guys. If you are going thru the effort to reWIRE everything why would you no bring the rest of the mechanical up to date. Maybe it's regional because here there is almost NO galvanized left in working condition at this point.


    By the way, some of the worst work I've seen was done by "engineers". You will need to think like a simple mechanic to accomplish this task.
  20. statjunk

    statjunk DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    542
    I agree with Alectrician. You are bringing the electrical code up to par and you're going to be tearing the place apart. Why not just do it right and replace all that crappy galvanized plumbing with copper or pex. Also if you're goign to dabble in electrical do so thoroughly and just do the entire job and do it right.

    I would consider the gravity of your decision today, several years down the road.

    Tom
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