If you're looking for a way to save money, wiring your own house from scratch is an option to consider. Although the idea may conjure up images of those exposed wires and flickering lights that defined early 20th century, modern self-wiring is much easier than it used to be. However, before beginning any DIY project like this one, there are some things that you should know about electrical wiring basics and safety precautions. Additionally, it’s always best to use a professional if you’re truly unable to do it safely on your own. Here’s what you should know.
Get a Permit
Get a permit. Whether you're planning to hire a professional electrician or do it yourself, you'll need to apply for a permit before wiring your house. This process can take a while, so you’ll need to do this early on. In some states, you cannot begin the work until you have the permit in hand. What if I don't have a permit? While the rules vary depending on your area and state regulations, if you don't get a permit before beginning work on your project, it could make your property more difficult to sell down the road. This is especially important to consider if you plan to fix and flip a property. Additionally, other states may have a fine attached for homes with illegal electrical work.
Know Your Skill Level
If you don't know what you are doing, it's best to call in an electrician. If you aren't qualified for the job, it could lead to dangerous consequences and even fires. The last thing you want is a house wired by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. If you get to a point in the project where you are unsure of how to handle the next step, a professional is a critical asset. They will be able to help you determine the electrical load, understand each resistor color code, and ensure that your project is following local building codes. Just because you are doing the wiring yourself does not give you a reason to take shortcuts. Take the project seriously and understand where your expertise ends.
The Basics of Electrical Wiring
The first thing you should know about electrical wiring is that it’s an art that requires precision and attention to detail. You'll need the right tools for the job, but more importantly, you'll need a firm grasp on what those tools are and how they work together. There are specific wrenches and tools for tightening bolts for a reason. There are specific ways to expose the ends of wires so that there won’t be any potential for arcing.
One of the things you should know about self-wiring is that the gauge of the wire is important relative to the electrical load you want it to carry and how far. If your project calls for a specific gauge of wire do not change it. This will impact everything about how the house can handle electricity coming through it and can become a fire hazard.
Another important basic to understand about wiring is the use of wire nuts and capping the ends of wires. These important little details are critical not only to the success of the project but also to the long-term safety of the home.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Depending on the scale of the project, wiring a house or building is a very extensive project. You have to consider how each room will connect to the fuse box and how they will connect to the rest of the house. When you wire a house, it takes a lot of time. A professional electrician will typically take around three days to wire an average-sized house, though this could vary depending on what type of wiring is being done and whether or not there are any extra complications involved like ceiling fans or connecting to solar panels.
Shut off the Power
Turn off the main breaker that supplies electricity to your house. Some power companies may even do a shut-off from their end when you are connecting your house to the outside. It’s critical that you do this to prevent injury or death.
Keep Your Materials Open While You Work
While self-wiring your home is a great way to save money, it's also important to be aware of the risks involved. Before you begin, read up on the process and make sure you have all the right tools at hand. Use a step-by-step guide as a reference and keep your phone camera handy so you can take pictures of difficult spots like wiring connections. You may even be able to hire an electrician just to ensure that everything was done properly before you hook up to the main power.