Replace Electrical Wiring?

6 Replies

My GC just notified me that the Baltimore City electrical inspector wants him to install (a) hard wire smoke detectors, (b) GFIs, and (c) replace electrical wiring in the entire two-unit building. The building is old, and was purchased as an REO. My general contractor quoted me $3,500 for the job.

My questions:

1. Is this "necessary?" 

2. If it's not necessary, is it a good idea to just get this work done now and not have to worry about it for awhile? 

3. Should I get some of it done, and pass on other stuff? Stated differently, should I "negotiate" this with the inspector?

3. Does $3,500 seem like what I should expect to pay here. I'm not worried about nickels and dimes, but I just want to make sure it's "in the ballpark."

Thanks for thoughts!

Hi Eric first i would say that 3500 sounds really low for an estimate i would be very concerned with the quality of that install. What were the reasons he said the electrical needed to be replaced? A properly installed electrical system should last a very long time, ive seen homes that still have knob and tube wiring (0 insulation) that still have functioning electrical systems. The gfis I would definitely put in its any easy quick fix and adds safety as long as you have a good grounding system for the house.

I would suggest maybe having a cordial conversation with the inspector and see if he will explain why these items need to be done. Kind of a learning session to let him know you want to make sure the work is done right. It could very well be city building code. You certainly DON'T want to get on his bad side as inspectors can make your life absolutely miserable. If the inspector is saying it's necessary per code he's not likely to "negotiate." $3500 does seem like a pretty good deal. It may be that the contractor's already got the walls open so it won't be so hard to fish the wire. As far as the quality...the inspector will be back to verify that. New electrical isn't a bad idea...and neither is staying on the good side of the inspector. Good luck! :)

Now that your messing / touching the existing electrical you now have to bring it up to code.  The code official is asking for are code items.  These are "life safety" items. Code Officials don't wavier much and never ever piss them off!  They will be more than happy to show you where in the code it is required.  They should be more than happy to explain it to the home owner in easy terms to understand.  If the walls or ceilings are open then just do it.  You can ask for other quotes to validate the first quote.   I would guess you are under 2006 or 2009 building code. 

The reason your inspector is asking you to bring the property upto code is because you are probably already doing work there. So they have the right to make you update and bring the electrical to the current NEC code. As for the price it could be high or it could be low. I know here CA to rewire a house I charge between 3.50 to 6.00 sq foot. But that is a complete rewire with everything new. 

lets start from the beginning 1. no inspector would say "rewire the whole house", nor could he/she require it unless extreme circumstances exist. Is the whole house wired incorrectly?? I highly doubt it. Is the wiring shoddy?  maybe, but an electrical inspector would only know this if all the walls are open, and he/she inspected/tested every wire....which begs the question, why was an electrical inspector there in the first place???...they typically only show up if an electrical inspection is called in. To answer your questions:

1. probably not, but depends on your house

2. maybe, depends on your house

3. no I wouldn't, but I have doubts that an electrical inspector actually said all of that 

4. not sure, depends on your house.

Originally posted by @Eric M. :

My GC just notified me that the Baltimore City electrical inspector wants him to install (a) hard wire smoke detectors, (b) GFIs, and (c) replace electrical wiring in the entire two-unit building. The building is old, and was purchased as an REO. My general contractor quoted me $3,500 for the job.

My questions:

1. Is this "necessary?" 

2. If it's not necessary, is it a good idea to just get this work done now and not have to worry about it for awhile? 

3. Should I get some of it done, and pass on other stuff? Stated differently, should I "negotiate" this with the inspector?

3. Does $3,500 seem like what I should expect to pay here. I'm not worried about nickels and dimes, but I just want to make sure it's "in the ballpark."

Thanks for thoughts!


I agree that you should at least call the inspector up and communicate with you about your project.

1. I'm not sure about CA local authorities having jurisdictions and their rules. In VA you don't have to update any electrical unless you upgrade the service to a larger Amperage or the new circuitry being installed.

2. Upgrading your electrical system is a very good idea, especially if you have the walls open and the budget. A newer electrical system can be a highly energy efficient upgrade and get rid of the possibly existing overloaded system with high heat stress.

3. It is up to you if you want to add the other items and repair or add to the existing system if it can handle it. I would definitely figure out some type of fire alarm system and ground fault protection in areas necessary. Also if you are either doing a like for like panel swap or upgrade, arc fault protection can drive up the price.

4. I'm not sure, depends on your square footage and demand. I'm an electrical contractor and for residential I usually charge anywhere from $4.50 - $6.25 per Square foot. I can tell you that I recently quoted a customer with a duplex rental around $11,000 for a full Upgrade and re-wire. Though the walls were not open and I was patching everything I opened up, also my electrical installs are very High quality. I've seen the low quality ones and they can be worse that existing conditions at times.  If the general contractor is already there and has an electrician he works with, it may be a good deal through both parties for you.  He also may be buddies with the inspector and selling you a pitch.

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