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Rewiring an old house

Alan Tierney explains how to update the electrics on a period property – without compromising the character and fabric of the building
If a period property hasn’t been updated in the last 30 years, it probably needs rewiring to meet modern safety standards. Pictured are Davey Lighting York wall lights, £239 each from Original BTC (

Rewiring can be disruptive to the fabric and finishes of a property – but if you’re dealing with a faulty or inadequate installation, it will be a sound investment. After all, poor electrics are a common cause of fires in historic homes.

If possible, it’s well worth having the existing wiring inspected before you buy. This should give you a sense of what work might be required and, importantly, how much it’s likely to cost – which may help you assess whether a project is financially viable.

Is it always necessary?

As a rule, if a property hasn’t been rewired since the late 1980s then it’s likely at least part of the infrastructure will need to be upgraded to ensure it’s safe (particularly in terms of fire risk) and complies with current standards. The consumer unit is often a tell-tale sign: if there is an old-fashioned fuse box, the chances are that rewiring will be necessary.

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About Build It

The August edition of Build It magazine brings you all the inspiration & practical advice you need to complete your home building project on time and on budget, including: • A stunning self-build on a countryside plot (page 20) • 10 way to maximise light and space (page 62) • 7 lightweight cladding options (page 67) • Find out whether triple glazing makes sense (page 79) • How to rewire a period property (page 119) • Discover how to find land with real potential (page 123) … and more!