Knob and Tube rewire cost

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runner9
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Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by runner9 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:53 am

Our house was built in 1954 and had a large addition put in on the early 1990s. The original bungalow is knob and tube and we've always talked about having it replaced. K&T is very, very common in our area and considered safe by everyone if undisturbed. I've read people say "must remove or not get insured", etc and that's just not the case here for whatever reason. That said, this is our forever house and 40 years from now I could easily have passed away and my wife still living here--I don't really want 100 year old K & T.

So, I got 6 company names from a friend who's an office person in a building department. Of those 3 do residential. One had no interest if I wasn't gutting out house which I'm not. One is playing phone tag which scares me a bit (all are good on BBB).

The 3rd gave a quote: He spent nearly an hour here. Said the breaker panel needs replaced as there's no room and a few are split breakers which I agree with. Also was real big talking about 2014 codes for grounding. Would replace all the K&T, check everything else. If we want to switch some single outlets for doubles while they're working that's no problem/no extra cost.Will also interconnect the smoke detectors as well as have arc fault and surge protection on the breaker box for whole house protection. Will use plastic sheeting and shop vacs, will not repair holes but will cut drywall out neatly and save the pieces.

Cost is what got me: $12,700. Does that seem reasonable? I usually get 3 quotes for everything but can't get much interest in this project from recommended companies. I've used a electrician working on the side for small jobs but that has hasn't been permitted and he's not interested in a job this big.

We have the money. House is paid off/no debt, have $124,000 in savings so we can easily afford it and I know the house will be much safer after it's done. It just seems like so much money.

Opinions welcome.

TLC1957
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by TLC1957 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:07 am

Have you tried HomeAdvisor or Angie's List for other quotes? We had electric work done and the quotes were $6K between high and low. I developed a bid package and had all the contractors bid to the same list so I could compare apples to apples, you may want to do the same. Is your attic and basement open and accessible for them to work, if not that would raise the $$. In the future do you plan to update and or a new kitchen and or finish the basement, if so install a large enough panel now then to have to add a sub panel later.

dbr
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by dbr » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:07 am

The rule is always to get multiple quotes, at least three. I am not sure why you are having trouble getting more responses.

I would not think that quote for what you describe is crazy. I don't understand K&T being in a 1954 construction. It wasn't used anymore then.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by Sandtrap » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:21 am

At least 3 quotes from licensed, insured, reputable electrical contractors, all bidding on the same work (apples for apples).

You may be having trouble getting quotes because a "Knob and Tube" rewire is labor intensive and/or work in your area is very busy and fruitful right now and contractors do not want to do that type of project. Or, your particular home is a "tough one".

aloha,
j :D

dbr
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by dbr » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:27 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:21 am
At least 3 quotes from licensed, insured, reputable electrical contractors, all bidding on the same work (apples for apples).

You may be having trouble getting quotes because a "Knob and Tube" rewire is labor intensive and/or work in your area is very busy and fruitful right now and contractors do not want to do that type of project. Or, your particular home is a "tough one".

aloha,
j :D
Probably you are right about the difficulty of the job. I live in a neighborhood of older homes where contractors that want to do work in older homes are plentiful and getting bids is not a problem. I am still trying to understand how a 1954 home can have knob and tube.

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AtlasShrugged?
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by AtlasShrugged? » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:07 pm

runner....I had a home with knob and tube wiring that I sold in 2007. The cost to replace it then was ~5,000 and my house was not large. Your estimate of 12.7K is probably not terrible....but absolutely, positively get multiple estimates. And yes, you will probably need a new panel box.

Essentially, you are rewiring your entire house. My advice, spend a little extra, and get a bigger panel box than you think you will need and use more breakers (so you distribute load evenly). Especially is this is the place you are going to stay. Do it once, do it right.

What I might also consider is leaving space near your panel for a PowerWall. I personally think this will be a coming thing in a few years as battery cost comes down. It is not quite there yet, but will be, IMO.
“If you don't know, the thing to do is not to get scared, but to learn.”

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MP123
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by MP123 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:42 pm

dbr wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:27 am

Probably you are right about the difficulty of the job. I live in a neighborhood of older homes where contractors that want to do work in older homes are plentiful and getting bids is not a problem. I am still trying to understand how a 1954 home can have knob and tube.
Same here. I thought Knob and Tube went out of fashion back in the 1920s. 1954 would almost be in the aluminum wiring era, not that it's much better...

I'd get some more estimates but $12.7k probably isn't too far off.

trs23
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by trs23 » Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:49 pm

If this is your forever house and it’s not a safety concern now why not wait for the next housing downturn when labor is plentiful and you can have your choice of contractors?

Why not market time your improvements?

ThatGuy
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by ThatGuy » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:04 pm

dbr wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:27 am
I am still trying to understand how a 1954 home can have knob and tube.
The contractor cheaped out. Homes in my area were built in the early '50s as well, and not only did they have knob and tube wiring (some still do), but orangeburg pipe was installed.
[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orangeburg_pipe]Orangeburg Pipe] wrote:Orangeburg pipe is bitumenized fiber pipe made from layers of wood pulp and pitch pressed together ... The useful life for an Orangeburg pipe is about 50 years under ideal conditions, but has been known to fail in as little as 10 years.
More to the point, $12,700 sounds cheap to me for a full rewire of an existing house. A panel upgrade costs about that in my area.
Work is the curse of the drinking class - Oscar Wilde

SimonJester
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by SimonJester » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:30 pm

I would ask some questions about how each contractor plans on re wiring the house.
Per NEC Romex is to be supported every 4 1/2 feet and within 12 inches of a box. Ie stapled to the framing members.
So is each contractor going to remove drywall? If so who will be replacing, patching and repainting?

You may be better off just gutting the house, rewiring, adding insulation while you are at it.

I would check your local building codes to see what they require as well. They also might require the walls being opened up to inspect.

I would also take this time to inquire with your utility about a service upgrade as well. Not sure what amperage you are running but now is the time to upgrade.

With a job this big you absolutely need to get multiple quotes.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by Epsilon Delta » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:31 pm

I expect that some of the smart house technology will significantly reduce the cost of rewiring a whole house sometime in the not too distance future.* If there is no pressing need to do it now it might be worth waiting and see what develops.

* Although it may require waiting for an entire generation of electricians to retire.

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Pajamas
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by Pajamas » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:20 pm

Is there any real reason to replace it if it works fine? What's wrong with it? Are you having some problems?

I lived in an old house with mostly knob & tube wiring. It did have a modern breaker box and some modern wiring for the kitchen and laundry room and HVAC system and attic fan, but the outlets and lighting in the rest of the house were on the old wiring.

It made me nervous to walk around in the attic with all of the exposed wires but other than that, I don't remember it causing any issues or problems.

I agree that it would be good to wait for a lull in construction in your area if you are determined to replace it, especially since you seem to be having trouble getting someone to do it now.

travellight
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by travellight » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:47 pm

How big is your house? I would think there would be a difference between a 1200 sf house and a 5000 sf house.

nativenewenglander
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by nativenewenglander » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:18 pm

We did this three years ago with our bungalow the cost was $13K. We upgraded to 200 amp, ran underground telephone and power to a carriage house 100 feet away and put a 100 amp box there and rewired the whole carriage house into an office and shop. At the same time we added 100 amp box in the attic. I helped the electrician pull wires and took up 1600 sqft of attic boards two layers thick. I thought that was very, very cheap.

DrakeSRT
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by DrakeSRT » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:46 pm

I may have missed size of house. You are getting permits correct? If they are rewiring everything and putting in new outlets, hooking up all existing over head lights and ceiling fans the price doesn't sound bad.

The plastic and shop vac sounds good but be ready for a lot more and bigger holes cut out of the drywall than you were thinking. It's all repairable so start looking for a good drywall guy too.

CurlyDave
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by CurlyDave » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:47 pm

trs23 wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 12:49 pm
If this is your forever house and it’s not a safety concern now why not wait for the next housing downturn when labor is plentiful and you can have your choice of contractors?

Why not market time your improvements?
+1

It isn't broken -- it doesn't have to be fixed right now. Put it on your to do list and wait until there is a recession. You will have more than enough interest when there are more contractors than work. And you will get a better (inflation adjusted) price.

2comma
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by 2comma » Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:54 pm

I think knob-and-tube gets a bit of a bad rap. Except for not having a ground there is nothing inherently dangerous about it. Most of the problems are seen when someone ties new wiring into existing k&t. I have heard but not verified that some insurance companies won't insure it but that doesn't seem to be an issue for you.

If you want new service, like to add more outlets in the kitchen then I'd go for it. If you're fine and dandy capacity wise I'd probably just leave it.

I'd expect to get some drywall dust throughout the house - just plan to deal with it. After any drywall repairs you'll probably have to repaint the room (I've never successfully matched old paint to my liking) so figure on the cost of drywall repairs and painting unless you DIY.

No idea if that is a good price or not. It all depends on your area, the size of the house, the number of runs and changes and difficulty of access. My gut tells me it's probably a fair price, it's a lot of work.

I think you understand that the electrician was emphasizing 2014 code because any circuit he changes or adds will need to be to current code.

On old work there is no requirement to staple the wires inside the walls. On new walls or a tear-out installing walls with nails/screws into studs you can hit the wires, on an existing wall it is assumed this will not happen.
If I am stupid I will pay.

bogglizer
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by bogglizer » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:07 am

Suggest leaving the K&T for the lighting and only redo the wall sockets. Not likely to over-voltage the lighting, given modern fluorescents.

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Bammerman
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by Bammerman » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:46 am

My situation is very similar to Pajama's. When we bought our 1925 house with K&T (with upgrades over the years), our insurance company (USAA) had no problems with that at all. We've had no problems with wiring since we bought the house 11 years ago, and as far as I know, the K&T wiring has been faithfully doing its job for the past 93 years. So, my question to the OP would be, "Is it broke?" Because you know what they say about things that ain't broke.

dot00
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by dot00 » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:44 pm

Bammerman wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:46 am
My situation is very similar to Pajama's. When we bought our 1925 house with K&T (with upgrades over the years), our insurance company (USAA) had no problems with that at all. We've had no problems with wiring since we bought the house 11 years ago, and as far as I know, the K&T wiring has been faithfully doing its job for the past 93 years. So, my question to the OP would be, "Is it broke?" Because you know what they say about things that ain't broke.
Funny how this topic is the one to finally get me to join the site after reading for a couple years. I agree with the above - my knob & tube will turn 100 next year and is fine. Previous owner replaced k&t in the kitchen and a bathroom about 25 years ago, but when we remodeled those same rooms 3 years ago we got to undo all the DIY “creativity”. :happy

I say leave well enough alone until you have the opportunity to pair the work with a more extensive remodel. If you are going to go through the hassle, mess, and whatnot you might as well do something more enjoyable to your day-to-day than replacing wiring. :happy We’ve had success doing this over the past few years and have limited the k&t to our 2nd floor bedrooms which don’t put much load on the wiring (led lights, alarm clocks, etc).

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runner9
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by runner9 » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:50 am

To followup, we're having the house rewired this week. I ended up with three companies actually at my house, the one that's doing it, one that took 3 weeks to show up and that was 2 weeks ago and I still have no estimate, and one who got here and said they don't do rewiring estimates for free. I feel that I tried my best to vet multiple companies.

Yesterday the owner, an employee and an apprentice upgraded the meter socket and panel to 200 amp service. It's an Eaton 200amp 42 space CH breaker panel, I like what I've read about it online. They also ran a copper wire across the basement and outside to 2 new 8 foot ground rods. The Knob and Tube wires are just attached through the front of the panel temporarily so we had full power last night.

They found the AC wire had been trimmed to fit into the breaker so they'll replace the AC wire. Also are for sure replacing a 14 gauge Romex that goes to the kitchen with 12 and adding a junction box to a light socket in the basement that's screwed directly to the joist. I feel like so far they're taking their time, checking everything and that's good.

Today two employees and the apprentice will be back to start checking everything and replacing as needed in the basement and moving up. Now the holes will start, we'll see how it goes.

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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by wilked » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:34 am

If you want any other electric changes, now is the time...

Things to consider -

1) New light switches, new dimmers, or moving light switches
2) Upgrade lights (recessed?), add a light, etc
3) New outlets, or upgrade 'two-prongers' to three
4) Demo out / remove unwanted outlets / outlets in weird locations
5) Misc changes (wire basement lights so all of them come on together with switch, etc)
6) Porch or outdoor lighting
7) "Enable" future electric car charging (upgrading to 200 amp prob all that's needed there)

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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:58 am

Epsilon Delta wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:31 pm
I expect that some of the smart house technology will significantly reduce the cost of rewiring a whole house sometime in the not too distance future.* If there is no pressing need to do it now it might be worth waiting and see what develops.

* Although it may require waiting for an entire generation of electricians to retire.
How so? Energy needs to get from one part of the house to another. Smart switches and a talking speaker aren't going to change that.

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lthenderson
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by lthenderson » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:17 am

runner9 wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:53 am
Cost is what got me: $12,700. Does that seem reasonable? I usually get 3 quotes for everything but can't get much interest in this project from recommended companies. I've used a electrician working on the side for small jobs but that has hasn't been permitted and he's not interested in a job this big.
In my experience, getting three quotes in this kind of economy is much easier to say than to actually do. I'm in the process of trying to get quotes for an entire addition added onto my house and have passed the 18 month mark with only one quote to show for it.

$12,700 doesn't sound unreasonable to me at all for rewiring an entire house without gutting it. It is very labor intensive to do as you have to cut holes and fish everything. It is very dependent on house style and layout for sure with a ranch type house probably being one of the easiest to do and a three story house with finished ceilings throughout being one of the harder ones to do.

Like others said, I wouldn't just be changing it unless forced for insurance or other reasons. I would just replace it room by room as I remodeled the place. Also, even though the one person quoting said they would leave the pieces of drywall behind, patching will be a lot of work and if you aren't doing it yourself, can be pretty tough to find someone willing to come in and do it for you for a reasonable price as well. It gets expensive because whomever is doing it has to come back multiple days for short periods of time to get everything mudded and sanded.

barnaclebob
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by barnaclebob » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:26 am

lthenderson wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:17 am
In my experience, getting three quotes in this kind of economy is much easier to say than to actually do. I'm in the process of trying to get quotes for an entire addition added onto my house and have passed the 18 month mark with only one quote to show for it.
I agree with this. Had to call about 6 or 7 chimney companies for an estimate for a new liner and only got two to come out. One wouldn't do the work required, the other one seems great so far but needs to do a more detailed inspection before bidding. I also need some major foundation work done and only two companies that I know of serve my area for this kind of project, one just blew me off after coming out and the other seems better but still have some work to do with them before getting a bid.

renue74
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by renue74 » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:33 am

I just did a rewire in an 80 year old house with K&T. We were pulling the walls down and putting up drywall....so we had easy access to the wall studs to put the switches/boxes/wiring in.

I did a ton of work myself....buying the 14/2 and 12/2 wire, plus all the switches, boxes, staples, light/ceiling fan light boxes, etc. And I helped run the wire.

We ran all the home runs back to a new breaker box and then I had a licensed electrician come in and do the box wiring and meter box wiring. They also went back through and dressed the boxes and cleaned up anything I did wrong.

Even with that....it cost about $8000 in total. their time, plus supplies I bought. This is a simple 1600 sq/ft 1-story bungalow with open walls.

It literally took them about 2 days to wire up the breaker box and meter box and clean up. I'm in the wrong business.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:42 am

barnaclebob wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:58 am
Epsilon Delta wrote:
Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:31 pm
I expect that some of the smart house technology will significantly reduce the cost of rewiring a whole house sometime in the not too distance future.* If there is no pressing need to do it now it might be worth waiting and see what develops.

* Although it may require waiting for an entire generation of electricians to retire.
How so? Energy needs to get from one part of the house to another. Smart switches and a talking speaker aren't going to change that.
Put a relay (or solid state equivalent) in each light fixture or load to control the power at the point of use. Run power from the meter to the loads using whatever topology minimizes the amount of wire. The switches can control the relays using a wireless or low voltage bell wire network. At the very least you lose all the switch loops. It's a huge win for something like a three way switch on a stair well.

In the context of rewiring a house I hope you can see how this would make things much easier.

In a sense the traditional system uses a high voltage, high current, switch loop as a very low band width data path. Separate the control path from the power distribution. This is what happens in car wiring harness into a door. Simplified slightly, Instead of running a wire for each function we now run four wires, two for power and two for control (CANbus). Thus we can put as many different electric devices in the door as we want without having to feed a thick wire harness through the hinge. You can also do things like have the lights remain on for 20 seconds after the door closes without adding more hardware.

I am told that the electric code is actually going the other way, and that every switch must now have power and neutral so the old two wire switch loop is prohibited. That is why we need a generation of electricians to retire.

e5116
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by e5116 » Tue Mar 27, 2018 11:05 am

You're obviously aware they're not going to repair the holes, but just thought I'd note that the cost of drywall + paint can be considerable. It's hard to just paint the section that was cut out as it won't perfectly match the rest of the room (even if you choose the same paint color since it's probably faded slightly over time), so if you want it to look like really clean and nice, you need to paint the entire wall. Since you're doing the whole house, that means painting the entire house. I doubt they'll use the cut out pieces of drywall, probably easier to just do new drywall - it's not very expensive. But certainly the labor of filling holes and painting a whole house can be significant. (You can certainly paint yourself if you're willing and able). Incidentally, I had some wiring replaced when I moved into my house too although it wasn't a total re-wire. Holes were very considerable, which caused my wife consternation upon seeing it, but the painters/drywall guys were efficient and patched things up quickly after (and painted all the rooms too, which took three guys a week of time).

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runner9
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Re: Knob and Tube rewire cost

Post by runner9 » Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:28 am

wilked wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 9:34 am
If you want any other electric changes, now is the time...

Things to consider -

1) New light switches, new dimmers, or moving light switches
2) Upgrade lights (recessed?), add a light, etc
3) New outlets, or upgrade 'two-prongers' to three
4) Demo out / remove unwanted outlets / outlets in weird locations
5) Misc changes (wire basement lights so all of them come on together with switch, etc)
6) Porch or outdoor lighting
7) "Enable" future electric car charging (upgrading to 200 amp prob all that's needed there)
Thanks, so far the company has been great to work with. I think I mentioned that there's an early 90s addition so part is romex already. They are checking every outlet/switch/light and replacing all K&T wiring as well as every single switch and outlet regardless so all will match. We're adding several outlets and changing 6 lights so the hall lights match. They've been careful to make as few holes as possible. From yesterday 2 rooms one the first floor have new rewired outlets, a third has no outlets right now, that's next up. There's a long way to go.

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