Renovations and Rehabs

Many people use the terms renovate and remodel interchangeably, but in construction they are actually very different. Remodeling or building an addition refers to adding a new space or changing the existing space to be different from how it was before. Renovation means restoring or rehabilitating a home or building to its previous state. This might include repairing or restoring historic elements like cornice molding or ornate wrought iron, refinishing wood flooring or replacing damaged architectural details with close replicas. One of the challenges homeowners face when renovating an older home is getting it to function as a modern building and meet current electrical codes while still maintaining its architectural integrity. For example, it may be possible to retain and preserve electrical elements that add character to a home, such as radiators, heat registers or switch plates. In some cases, original light fixtures can be upgraded, rewired and refinished for continued use. In other cases, it may be necessary to select and install new light fixtures that are in keeping with the architectural character of the building.

The electrical demands of a house will change during a renovation or rehabilitation, which can necessitate upgrading the electrical system. The size of the circuit breaker box is generally determined when a building is designed, and it is calculated for the original power demands of the building. A licensed electrician will calculate the new electrical load based on the renovation and recommend adding an additional breaker box or upgrading the existing breaker box to accommodate the increase in electrical load.

Another aspect of renovations is that it is impossible to know what will be uncovered during the demolition of a section of wall or ceiling. You could encounter damaged wires, ungrounded wires, knob-and-tube (K&T) wiring or even disconnected wires. Because the issues encountered in each renovation are unique, homeowners are strongly advised to work with a licensed electrician who is experienced with rewiring and upgrading the electrical systems of historic and older homes.

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