Think about electrical before you remodel

Know the basics of your home’s electrical system

Are you considering remodeling work or even an addition to your home? Just remember to carefully consider your future electrical needs before you start to build.

Type of Remodel

It’s important to know the differences between various types of remodels — what we’ll categorize as minor renovation, upgrade, conversion, or addition. This will help you decide what changes will be necessary in your electrical system for your home addition or remodel.

1) Minor renovation — this is referring to a small remodel, often done mainly for energy-saving or cosmetic purposes, such as replacing windows or painting the interior of your home. No electrical changes are usually directly associated with the remodeling work itself, but while your house and your daily routine are already being disrupted, you can take the opportunity to install electrical safety features or lighting that is more modern.

2) Upgrade — we’re using this in the sense of updating one or more of your rooms to improve their functionality. The perfect example would be a kitchen upgrade, where you could be adding supplementary work surfaces such as a cooking island. You may have to move electrical outlets or install additional plugs.

3) Conversion — here you are changing the intended use of a part of your home. The commonest examples are conversion of a basement, attic, garage, or outbuilding into usable living or office space. In such a case, it is likely that you will need major electrical improvements, especially if the space to be converted is not physically attached to your home.

4) Addition — this involves extension of your home’s exterior envelope, by either constructing a bump-out or adding to the foundation. As with a conversion, a number of electrical modifications are likely to be involved.

Electrical Safety

For safety’s sake, you are obliged to install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in your kitchen, bath, powder room, garage, and outdoor living space. We recommend also installing them anywhere that water may come into contact with electricity — for instance, in a basement. Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are required in bedrooms and other habitable areas, according to your local code. Tamper-resistant objects offer protection against shocks for households with young children.

Do not ever cut corners when you are modifying your home electrical system. Not only would you be jeopardizing possible future claims on your homeowner’s insurance and your chances of eventually selling your house, even worse, you’d be endangering the wellbeing of your family.

Use an electrician to tackle the job and make sure that the necessary permits are pulled. If your major renovation is in the path of an electrical feeder line, contact the electric company before finalizing your plans. Do not attempt to move these lines yourself; this must be done by a representative of the utility company.


The cost of electrical improvement for a home remodel or addition can vary widely, depending on the extent of the work and what you are having installed or upgraded. You may wish to get quotes from several electricians. Clarify whether their charges are per item, per square foot, or per hour of labor and make sure that you have a clear estimate in writing before work begins.

Electrical Services for Home Addition or Remodel

Here is a list of the electrical services you may need for your remodel project:

new circuits

panel upgrade

outlets for electrical and electronic equipment

overhead and task lighting

backup electrical generator for emergencies

hookup for hot tub or home spa

separate electric meter if you construct a rental unit