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dgfit 06-05-2013 06:19 PM

My rewire journey
I am ready to go for my permit and would appreciate guidance on what I need to provide. The below is a long description, but my immediate question is what, by way of plans, will the inspector need to see in order to approve the permit. I have a lot of detail but I don't want to frustrate him by giving more than he needs.

This is for a 1927, total 3000+ sqft home with a museum's collection of wires bridging several technologies (K&T, Cloth NM, NM-B), hack splices, deadend (but live) taped up wires, three prong outlets on KT (no ground), two prong outlets in grounded boxes (wtf?), blown insullation (but think they took all the KT out of exterior walls first) - you name it. Bathroom, closet lights, bedroom overheads on single circuit. Lights dim when you turn on the hair dryer. I have an old 100 amp Square D QO panel planning to upgrade to 200 amp service, with subpanels in attic to cover both finished attic and second floor. Also planning subpanel in far corner of basement from main panel to cover toolshop, kitchen dining area. Using 12/2/3 (and one section of 4) throughout. Why not - the cost difference for where I could use 14 is minimal. Netruals in every box, and no shared neutrals anywhere. Seems to me those days are gone.

The house itself is pretty basic layout with poured concrete foundation (can you imagine that in 1927 - and no moisture even!). I bought a $40 wall scope hooked up to my laptop which let me get an idea of the wall interriors. Lath and plaster walls (so far) have plenty of open spaces in the middle. The plaster is in ok shape - won't use any agressive saws. Putting every box near a stud so I can use the stud for brace as much as possible while sawing. I bought a fox and hound and traced all my existing circuits. I am fortuneate to have only two circuits that bridge from first to second floors, which means I can effectively discconect the top half of the house and do it as unit.

I have very detailed diagrams drawn to scale (with Microsoft Visio) for all planned circuits down to my plans for how I plan to run each and every wire. I'm sure that reality will cause me to adjust, but at least I have a plan to start with. Planning to avoid exterior walls on second floor by dropping down into interrior walls and routing behind baseboards around the rooms. Planning to replace each and every box with new smartbox type (probably slider) boxes. Will keep some of the newer overhead lights.

I am a software developer, so was able to write a program to extract the info directly from the Visio drawings into a spreadsheet, automatically caculate voltage drop, box fill, and needed quantites. The end result is a detailed list of wire runs and a materials list for each circuit and project segment (attic first, then second floor, then kitchen, etc.). Total about $5,500 materials.

I have subscribed to NECPLUS and spent the past couple of months studying everything I can find. The sister site to this forum (electriciantalk) is a wealth of knowledge - like standing around with a bunch of seasoned sparkies (learned that term there :)) talking about their war stories, but with the ablity to take all the things you hear (impabalanced loads, megger, etc.) and go look them up to learn. It also gave me a *H*U*G*E* respect for the trade and the tough decisions made in day to day work to balance making a living against sleeping at night knowing you kept families safe even in the face of so many who simply don't understand what they are doing. My hat is off to them.

I have learned about code requirements for load calculations (both the normal and alternate methods), AFCI requirements, GFCI requirements, kitchen/laundry cricuit requirements box fill, derating (both temperature and conductors), voltage drop (code doesn't care but I do), grounded connector (neutral) vs. equipment grounding. I read about the history of grounding and about the Underwriters original resistance to it.

In studying the threads on electriciantalk and seeing the often tragic events and near misses, and reaching an understanding of why they happened. One post today about a RED HOT (with pics) conduit screw due, apparently, to a ground fault between a j box and elbow - had to have been because the conduit between between j box and AC unit was non-metallic. The screw just happened to be the point of highest resistance - if that screw had been on the other side of the connector which was against the house - it would no doubt have burned. Pics from actual fires caused by people running irrigation cable rated as if it were romex - and understanding why that was really stupid.

I have studied these and learned that there is a lot I don't know, and I gained a healthy respect. I feel prepared to undertake this rewire project, but there are things I won't do. I won't touch anything I can't shut off - which means I won't mess with the service drop or main panel replacement. I have to find a licensed electrictian for that.

So all input appreciated - specifically, what do I need to submit by way of plans.

TarheelTerp 06-05-2013 06:49 PM


Originally Posted by dgfit (Post 1195847)
I am ready to go for my permit and would appreciate guidance on what I need to provide... specifically, what do I need to submit by way of plans.

What have you been TOLD you need to submit?

We get that this is all new to you but a residential rewire (short of something truly unique going on) shouldn't need ANY plans submitted to get the permit.

Later on when they come around to inspect is another matter but even then they'll be looking at HOW you did things not whether the design is cool or complete (beyond the 10 or so required circuits) or even if it works. Grounding? Water pipe bonding? Drilling? Nail plates? Stapling? GFI's? AFCI's? That sort of thing.

dgfit 06-05-2013 06:59 PM

Thanks - I have a call into the inspector but the website says 2 copies of plans. Yep on the drilling, nail plates etc. Understood he doesn't care about the design. I know it depends on local area, but really - most areas require no plans need to be submitted?

Jim Port 06-05-2013 07:09 PM

I have never needed to submit plans for a house. Your area may be different.

dgfit 06-05-2013 07:19 PM

Well don't I feel like an idiot :huh:

MTN REMODEL LLC 06-05-2013 07:28 PM

DJ.... Sounds like ya got an extensive residential project in front of you.. but also sounds pretty very impressive what you've garnered by listening and studying and preparing

I'm sure, and I'm sure you know, that you'll run into some practical issues in fishing and running your circuits, but you'll figure it out. Also, probably some code issue may arise.... don't feel bad... we have 30 year smart sparkies here who argue out interpertations.

It can be fun and rewarding to accomplish your own work.

Good going.... :thumbsup::thumbsup: TT gave you good advice as to permitting process...most jurisdictions, it's very simple.

... hope you get a smart inspector and not a failed out sparky... because I can tell you want to do it right... and if you get a knowledgeable good inspector that is not just trying to hold onto his gov retirement... you'll get along great when he knows you and he are on the same side.

Incidentally, the men on here are excellent at advising ya and are well intentiioned.:)



TarheelTerp 06-05-2013 07:35 PM


Originally Posted by dgfit (Post 1195879)
...most areas require no plans need to be submitted?

A brief description of the scope (demo K&T, wire all branch circuits, upgrade to 200A panel) and the dollar value to know how high to make the permit fee. You'll be alright.

A Good Basic Guide:

MTN REMODEL LLC 06-05-2013 07:42 PM


Originally Posted by dgfit (Post 1195890)
Well don't I feel like an idiot :huh:

Ya know DJ... that's a good attitude...:laughing:

The jurisdiction generally says "submit plans" not necessarily specific to electrical, more in general terms.

Most electrical work is "prescriptive", well defined as to how to accomplish by NEC code and local amendments, and sometimes additionally affected by energy amendments (Title 24 in Cali) and fire codes.

As it is prescriptive, there really is not plan checking like making sure your spans and headers and shear walls and foundations are satisfactory like in structural issues.

As TT mentioned, just ask the BO what, if any electrical plans he would like. You'll probably just state "new 200 A overhead service and complete rewire" (or whatever you're doing). You'll likely have to put a market price on it.... be fair...not worth while starting off on the wrong foot to save $100 on the permit fee. IMO



dgfit 06-05-2013 08:06 PM

Thank you very much MTN and Tarheel. I'm reading through the nojolt post now. I'm really glad I asked on here cuz I would have inundated him :)

The cutoff for the fee is $5k and I am over that and I really do want the inspectors input. Whats the worst that can happen? I would much rather do it right the first time and debating over an additional outlet here or there hardly seems worth the time.

I'll put together a brief description and maybe include my one page materials list by circuit.

One question - is it typical to do this in phases? I would like to complete one segment roughin and finish then move on to the next. Think the inspector would be ok with 4-6 project phases like this?

TarheelTerp 06-05-2013 08:34 PM


Originally Posted by dgfit (Post 1195928)
One question - is it typical to do this in phases?

For professional's... No.
Your entire project is a 3 man crew for 3 days.
Maybe a 4th day for some trims and the final.

Are you planning to live in the house during all this work too?


Think the inspector would be ok with 4-6 project phases like this?
Not happily. And not without additional charges for the additional site visits.

Start with the heavy up job which will give you the new panel.
Do that as a separate permit that can be closed out right away.

Then do the change over work afterward and also after you've had a chance to meet the inspector on site. Have coffee and donuts (or a subway sandwich) on hand and ask him for thoughts/concerns about staging the next phases.

Break it down to a practical level 1)all the basement and 1st level circuits and devices and the feeds to the attic for the second floor then 2) the second floor and exterior work. Or you could do the rough work for the uper level circuits and have those wires dropped to the new panel location and ready to land in the new panel when it's done.

That'll give you a chance to show him your trim skills.
(or to have him point out what you'll need to fix & do better downstairs)

Make sense? That's 3 (or just 2) stages (not 4 or 6).

MTN REMODEL LLC 06-05-2013 08:45 PM


Originally Posted by dgfit (Post 1195928)

One question - is it typical to do this in phases? I would like to complete one segment roughin and finish then move on to the next. Think the inspector would be ok with 4-6 project phases like this?

Again... don't know your jurisdiction and your inspectors.... but generally NO.

The inspection process for electrical is generally just two step, rough in inspection (wiring all exposed and devices not in boxes), and 2) final... devices in and service and main hooked up. (They usually have a 50-100 dollar upcharge for additional inspections)

But, be honest and speak with the inspector as to your options and circumstances. We had a job in Cali where we had to put in the new lateral main feeding old crap house wiring (without a subpanel) while rest of addition was in framing.(Had to do with an overhead service going through current framing and having to live in existing old home).

After initial chagrin, and we did have to go to the BO, not the inspector, they understood the remodel constraints, and allowed us to what you call "phase it"

Good luck

EDIT::: Just read TT above (we x posted). EXCELLENT SUGGESTIONS

dgfit 06-05-2013 09:07 PM

Great advice! Yeah I was planning to live in the house during. How does this sound.

First, Replace main panel as you suggest to meet the inspector.

Phase 1

I currently have a 4 fuse (not breaker) box buried behind wood trim in the finished attic run from a 50 amp breaker on old cloth covered SEC cable up the outside of the house. I want to replace this with a subpanel in a different (code compliant) location in the attic via an unused laundry chute. Then wiring the attic and second floor from that except for the stairwell/upper hall lights which tie into the first floor.

Phase 2

New subpanel in workshop in basement which also happens to be under the kitchen. Rewire the 1st floor and stairwell/upper hall lights. I had originally wanted to do kitchen and rest of first floor separately to reduce the kitchen downtime. But I can manage it. This might be one of the topics I try to talk through with the inspector if we hit it off. I expect the stairwell / hall lights to be my toughest fishing expedition.

Phase 3

Rewire basement, exterior, and new subpanel to detached garage. There was a subpanel in the garage before we purchased the house, but it was in awful shape so had them rip it out it as a condition of the sale along with a couple other things like getting rid of breaker double taps. I had originally planned to do the basement and garage separately but there is no big reason to do so especially if it helps it all go smoothly.

TarheelTerp 06-05-2013 09:38 PM


Originally Posted by dgfit (Post 1195963)
Phase 1
I currently have a 4 (circuit) box in the finished attic
I want to replace this with a sub panel

Unless there is some OTHER need for that sub... don't bother.
It's only a few home runs to meet the 2nd level needs.


Phase 2
New subpanel in workshop in basement which also happens to be under the kitchen.
Unless there is some real need for that sub... don't bother.
It's only a few home runs to meet the immediate needs.

If/when you set up a wood shop... then do what's needed for it.
Until then you'll have a big new 200A panel for these circuits.
Save the extra expense.


Phase 3
Rewire basement, first level w/kitchen, exterior, and new subpanel to detached garage.
Well... Good. This is the sub panel you should be putting in.

1A) A few 15A & 20A home runs up to attic level with other end loose and long at new panel location. Room by room proceed to demo and remove/safe all the old wire then feed the several switches, fans etc and the several GP receptacles and the GFI recep in the bathroom

I won't tell anyone if you don't... but that work should be checked and if someone left the temp connection on those 2nd level circuits would be working .

1B) Buy all the new 200a meter can, 200a panel stuff, the garage sub panel, the grounding stuff, the wire. Hang the garage sub panel and then trench back to the house.

1C) Get the permit for the 200A panel, coordinate with the power company, get the meter/main work done; call in for inspection. When energized... refeed the OLD panel from the new one.
Cover the trench and talk to the inspector about the whole project.

2A) Go in for the permit for the house rewire work
2B) Land the garage sub panel and 2nd level homeruns
2C) Pull the several 1st level 15 & 20 amp home runs. Room by room proceed to demo and remove/safe all the old wire then feed the several fixtures and devices.
2D) Pull any 240 circuits (stove?) and exterior (AC?).
2E) Call in for the inspection.

I think that covers it.
And no extra charges for second inspector visits.

He will expect you to open a few switch and receptacle boxes.

dgfit 06-05-2013 11:00 PM

I think I'm tracking with you but might need to provide a few more details:

1. The overhead drop comes to front SE corner of house with no obvious practical alternatives. The garage is about 30 ft NW diagonal from the house. so garage feed will have to cross basement and trenched to garage. Of all the items on my list the garage is my lowest priority (but still important). Does knowing the orientation change your recommendations? I kind of thought you might think the service drop was to the garage.

2. The old attic fuse box is only the attic. fwiw, the cable runs up the outside wall beside the incoming service drop that runs to the basement. The second floor is now on main panel. The new attic subpanel was meant to avoid voltage drop over 5% for both attic and second floor but maybe I shouldn't calc based on the full 80% allowed on each circuit cuz it is unlikely that would ever happen? Especially on lighting only circuits. I have also worried about derating due to bundling through the chute and the attic, while finished, is not cooled - but that was probably overthinking. I have 3 bedtooms and two baths with fans/lights/heaters. I have also not wanted to put overhead lights on same circuits as outlets. But we're you thinking to do the second floor first because I had it listed first? To be honest it was just that I thought it would let me clear out as much old wire as possible in the basement before tackling the more densely wired lower levels. But I am trusting your advice on avoiding the attic subpanel provided I am ok on voltage drop and derating.

3. The tool room subpanel really had more to do with my hvac ducts. I am going to need to do an asbestos abatement on the ducts due to tape, but feel the electrical is more pressing. Avoiding the ducts coupled with spaghetti gas and plumbing (yet another project) give me a single joist bay path from the main panel to half the first floor including kitchen and figured it easier to run the subpanel and wire from that. Again, do I worry about derating running so many runs through a single bay? Also, I know code let's me cross a single bay cold air return, but I really don't want to. But, then again, if I'm redoing the ducts later I can just redo the returns.

Thank you so much for this discussion - I have needed this.

TarheelTerp 06-06-2013 06:51 AM


Originally Posted by dgfit (Post 1196016)
I think I'm tracking with you but might need to provide a few more details:
Thank you so much for this discussion - I have needed this.

Getting more specific requires eyes on.
You'll need to find a friendly competent electrician anyway...
find one now to help make this sort of progression plan with you.

Go to the user control panel (upper left of the screen as you read this) and add your town/state. Someone here may be close.

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