Thursday, January 17, 2008

How many bearded writists does it take to wire a house?

Forewarning - blog posts are likely to become rather repetitive and boring over the next few months...

Barring major incident, such as America declaring war on Iran or my being struck down by a piece of frozen urine falling from an overhead jumbo jet, The Horse Doctor and I should complete the purchase of a house in just two weeks time.

Cue happy dancing and other forms of celebration. And really, I'm very excited about it all. Honest.

But also not a little daunted.

You see, the house in question has been empty for the last three years. So what, I hear those of you who know me too well say; the house you're in right now was empty for ten years before you moved in. You had to evict the spiders and remove the dead bat from the bathroom sink. Well, yes, this much is true. But this house is also rented, and rented from the company I work for (and for whom The Horse Doctor also worked at the time). This meant that things needing doing got done. They paid for a new boiler to be installed, fixed the more dodgy wiring, replaced a couple of double-glazing units that had failed and let us have the place for nine months rent free because we agreed to slap a few coats of paint on here and there.

The new place is our own. All that stuff needs to be done, all over again. And this time it will be us paying for it, and mostly me doing the work.

Right now I'm having a hard time prioritising. We've got a month between completion and moving in, and whilst I'm OK with living on a building site, there's a few essentials that have to be fitted first. Like a new boiler to provide hot water for the shower that also has to be plumbed in. I'd really like to fit underfloor heating downstairs, and doing it whilst the place is uninhabited would make the most sense - less disruption from ripping up all the floorboards that way. But right now the money is very tight indeed, so that might have to remain an elusive dream. I know I'll regret it on those cold winter nights when the tiny little radiators shoved in the window recesses do such a good job of heating Ceredigion, but that's life, sadly.

What can't be left the way it is, however, is the wiring. It is old, at least in parts. The fuse box has provision for four circuits, and they all have wire fuses on them. By a conservative estimate, to bring the place up to modern standards, I need at least eight circuits and they should be protected by circuit breakers rather than wire.

Then there's the rather arcane mix of old and new wall sockets, light fixings run off the wrong circuits, wires draped lazily over the flue for the boiler, melting with the heat. It's all a bit of a mess.

I'm not really fazed by all of this. Wiring isn't as difficult as people make out, especially if you're essentially replacing a complete system. Access is good for running cables, too. The problem is with the rules and regulations.

I know the wiring needs to be done properly, and I know that it needs to be checked, tested and certified. But to get a sparky in to rewire the entire house would cost thousands of pounds. The bulk of that would be labour costs as he pulled up floorboards, chased channels in walls, ran cables and suchlike. All stuff I can easily do myself. The cost of the actual materials required is minimal.

Ideally I just want to pay someone to come in check the new system's been wired correctly, and connect it to the mains. Shouldn't take more than a half a day, and shouldn't cost more than a couple of hundred quid. In theory there are sparkies out there who are happy to do this kind of work. I'm just having a hard time finding one.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous norby said...

Congratulations James-good luck with all the work!

January 17, 2008 10:33 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Thanks, norby. I think I'm going to need it;}#

January 18, 2008 9:37 am  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

I sympathise, Mr James. She Who Must and I have been in the current house for four years now, and it's still a building site in places.

Most place to be honest.

January 18, 2008 1:25 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

True, Mr Stuart, but it's a warm and welcoming building site, with good food, good cheer, a shower that works and electrics that don't threaten to make your hair stand on end. Oh, and also a furry cat.

I reckon our new place will still be a building site in four years time, too. The question is, will yours?

January 18, 2008 1:59 pm  

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