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I live in an house built around 1960. LAHJ is NH/USA. It is a small house, on a single level with a full but unfinished basement.
We have known for years that we need to update the electrical. Our panel has fuses, and most of the outlets in the house are not grounded (2-prong).

Am I right that it would make sense to replace all the wiring in the house at the same time we have breakers installed? If we have only one floor, is it possible for the wiring to be replaced without tearing down the walls?

Lastly, I have some limited experience in electrical. I can wire outlets, replace light fixtures, etc. I am obviously not considering replacing the fuse box with breakers myself. But I am wondering if I can save the electrician time (and me money) by offering to do some of the work myself. Can I ask to have the wires run to the boxes but wire them in myself, for example?

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  • Firstly, it depends where you are (so, what the Local Area Having Jurisdiction, or LAHJ is, and what their rules are.) In general, if you are able to save your electrician time at all, it's going to be the time consuming stuff (running the cables) not the stuff that takes very little time for them to do (connecting those cables) and that division of labor means they can check that your part of the job is done correctly when they do theirs, and correct it if need be. Some will and some won't be willing to do that. – Ecnerwal Dec 26 '20 at 4:30
  • @Ecnerwal Thanks - I added my local area. Any idea how much sheetrock will be messed up be rewiring? Living space is all one level, easy basement access. – nuggethead Dec 26 '20 at 4:33
  • You may not need to replace the wiring - if there are ground wires, but no ground prongs on the outlets, the wire is probably fine, and only the outlets and panel would need to be changed, except where you want new circuits, or to divide up circuits; and code has allowed adding a separate grounding wire for a few code cycles now. If the wires to the outlets run up from the unfinished basement, very little sheetrock (possibly none) would need to be disturbed, normally. – Ecnerwal Dec 26 '20 at 4:33
  • Short answer to just the title: in most jurisdictions, you can do nearly everything if you have the skill and can look up what the codes and rules are and pass inspection. With that said, you need to evaluate your current situation because the devil is in the details. You might find there is flex conduit running everywhere, which would make rewiring rather easy, or you might fight lousy fabric insulated wires that become a liability the instant they are disturbed requireing a significant overhaul of nearly everything. – whatsisname Dec 26 '20 at 5:57
  • Can you post photos of the existing fuse box please? – ThreePhaseEel Dec 26 '20 at 16:05
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Looking online a home owner can do there own electrical start to finish. If you want to work with an electrician and find one willing to let you pull wire and connect devices ahead of time the electrician will want to inspect it and if you wire the receptacles he will also want to look as well as an inspector will to verify there is 1/4” of the cable covering on nmb extending inside the box and 6” of wire and of corse properly wired at the receptacles, switches snd lights.

When you pull to the panel location since it is new bring your wires in and make sure there is enough to reach any point in the panel. For example when I wire panels if I enter on the left I land the ground neutral and hot on the right yes this consumes wire but when balancing panels once powered up I never have to splice and later remodels I always have enough wire. Other electricians won’t waste a 1/4” of wire so knowing what he wants is important.

You will probably want a service upgrade also most homes on fuses only have 60 amp sometimes 100 amp services I would suggest while you are at it go big and not only increase the service size but get as many breaker positions as you can.

The minimum panel size for a single family residential job is currently 100 amps.

The advantage of working with an electrician is he will know what is allowed and can advise of you in some cases saving quite a chunk of $. Also in my jurisdiction we have one inspector that must hate home owners and makes them do more than required by code. Make sure to mention it was wired by an electrician(s) and the inspection may go much faster.

When I moved to my current home it was in a jurisdiction I had not worked in often and my first job was similar to yours updating a 1930’s farm house with a new service.

The inspector was not going to sine off the job with multiple “violations” I asked him to cite the code references while getting a code book. After giving him my license number he started backpedaling big time saying that’s how he liked it and approved the permit with a green tag on the service.

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  • Well said. Agreed, some electricians think there's any merit to clipping the wires off as short as possible to make the panel look neater. That is just inviting the panel to turn into a tangle of wire-nuts later. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '20 at 20:21

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