Last week an electrician started rewiring our whole house. They started by running new wires into all the rooms and running the wires into gangboxes and into a subpanel in the garage.

I assumed to finish the job they would install the outlets and switches, and then the last step would be disconnecting the power and installing the new main panel and then hooking the power into the panel.

Would that be a typical/logical way to do it?

Instead, the first thing they've done is cut the power, start on installing the main panel and setting up the subpanel. There are zero outlets or switches installed on the new wiring, not to mention none of the light fixtures have been switched over to the new wiring either.

This seems like the exact opposite order they should have done things. Is there some reason for doing it in this order?

There's a really good chance we're going to have no power tonight, or at least only have power in a few outlets unless they work overtime (they started at 8am and it's almost 3pm now)


While I can't speak to your specific situation, in many jurisdictions the electrician is required by local law to install the wiring, leaving the electrical boxes open and without installing outlets, fixtures, and switches. This allows the electrical inspector to check out the wiring (size, number of wires, proper mounting) before the system is closed up. This is called rough-in inspection. Only after you get this preliminary approval is the electrician allowed to mount outlets, switches, etc.

This approach also allows the electrician to check out the continuity of the wiring before he adds devices that may complicate the testing.

Whether this is the case in your jurisdiction depends on local law.

  • +1 for mentioning the inspection process. Most Electricians, plumbers, etc. typically are more limited by red tape, than the actual work they do (or at least it often feels like that) – BrownRedHawk Oct 20 '15 at 13:10
  • @BrownRedHawk understood, but the examples we get on this site about bad wiring, bad plumbing, etc. illustrates the importance of checking to see that the work is up to professional standards (and often it isn't). On the other hand, most of the really bad stuff is probably done by non-professionals who wouldn't file for a permit and inspection anyway. – bib Oct 20 '15 at 13:36

Are you living in the house while they rewire? Whatever order they do things is going to be very disruptive for several days (or weeks). This seems like a conversation you should have with the electrician.

I can't speak to this particular situation since we don't really know the details of the job but in general it's longer and more expensive to do major work if you ask the contractor to keep the house livable.

  • I am living in the house. I'm just trying to understand if there was a reason to not install all the oulets, switches and subpanel first. If they did it that way then the only time we'd have no power is while they installed the new main panel. Experience so far with this contractor seems like they dont really plan ahead much. Just wanted to know if this is another example of them just doing something with no forethought. – merk Oct 19 '15 at 23:03
  • @merk - I think you are misunderstanding something. They cannot have outlets, lights, etc. connected to both the old panel and the new panel simultaneously. Either they rewire the lights to the new panel before it is powered or power the new panel and then rewire the lights. Either way, you're without power for a time. You probably should have planned to move out during the rewire. – DoxyLover Oct 20 '15 at 5:56
  • @merk - DoxyLover's comment assumes that existing light switches and outlets are being reused. This seems to me almost certain for the light fixtures/switches, and pretty likely for the outlets too; although it is likely that there are also new outlets being installed. If that is the case, then the only loss of uptime is the time for the new outlet installation. – AndyT Oct 20 '15 at 10:44
  • They did not reuse any of the outlets or switches. They punched new holes and installed everything new. I didn't expect to have both the new and old stuff working at the same time. What I thought they would do is install all the outlets and switches, hook everything up to the subpanel, run whatever wires from the subpanel to the main panel (up to this point all the old stuff would still work) AND then disconnect the power and work on installing the new main panel, at which point we'd have no power while they installed the new panel. – merk Oct 21 '15 at 16:30

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