Home Renovation Electrical Safety Guide

Written by RADI

Deciding to renovate your home is a big decision, and, while it can be a very exciting time, it can prove to be a workout on your wallet.

As renovations can be tough on your finances, you’re probably keen for some DIY work and are willing to save in manual labour as much as you can. While this can be a great idea, complying with legal requirements and safety should still be your main priority. While there are certainly lots of jobs that you can easily do on your own, electrical work is best left to the professionals.

In this post we will guide you through some of the essential safety procedures for a successful and secure electrical home renovation: what you can do, how you can do it, and what you should steer clear of.

What you can safely do yourself

Electricity is something we need and use in our daily lives constantly. Generally when we enjoy its benefits we experience no problems or hazards, but doing an electrical installation is a different story.

According to the current Australian Standard 3000:2007 “Electrical installations or Australian and New Zealand Wiring Rules”, all electrical work must meet or exceed these listed standards. This means that unless the work is done by a licensed electrician who knows these standards, your electrical work could be dangerous and also illegal.

Some of the things that are permitted for the average homeowner to do are:

  1. Install garden lights.
  2. Install pond pumps.
  3. Install battery operated smoke detectors.
  4. Install some self-contained solar lights.
  5. Change and rewire old style fuses – however, it is usually better to have an electrician replace them with a circuit breaker.
  6. Changing light bulbs – make sure you use correctly rated globes for your fitting, otherwise if you exceed the rating it may melt and potentially cause a fire.
  7. Cut openings for portable air-conditioners, however you will need to have a licensed electrician connect them.
  8. Fit an electric wall oven in a kitchen, but not connect it.
  9. Replace a washing machine’s drive belt.

What you should leave to the professionals: facts and tips

Because electrical work is heavily regulated by the Government, most jobs and installations (regardless of whether they are residential, commercial or industrial) need to be carried out by professional and licensed electricians.

The law defines an electrical job as the manufacturing, installing, testing, maintaining, repairing, altering, removing or replacing any of electrical equipment. So if any of the mentioned above sounds like what you need to get done, you’ll have to get an electrician. When looking to hire, you must make sure they are fully qualified with a valid electrical licence.

Usually, nothing will go wrong just after the installation. This doesn’t mean problems, or even emergencies, won’t arise after constant use. It’s important to keep in mind that even a simple overheating of wires can cause a fire, so poor electrical installation can be a great hazard.

For insurance purposes, a qualified electrician’s work can be certified in case anything goes wrong down the track. A proper contractor should be licenced with a minimum $5 million of Public Liability insurance.

When overseeing the renovation of your home, you should be aware that there are some specific laws regarding certain rooms that use electricity and water, such as bathrooms, kitchens and outdoor spaces (including spas and swimming pools). In these areas, the electrical devices used and their installation is regulated so they can function safely. This type of work is definitely something that is best left to an electrician.

Some other examples of the things you can’t do unless qualified:

  • Replace a light switch.
  • Replace a light fitting with a ceiling fan.
  • Make an extension cord or power board.
  • Install or alter the location of a power point.
  • Repair or test electrical appliances, such as heaters or electrical kitchen appliances.
  • Replace a plug at the end of a lead.
  • Replace a battery holder with a new light fitting.

Things to keep an eye on

If you’re getting your house ready for the renovation process, are in the middle or have finished and are ready to enjoy your daily life again, there are certain things you should always have in mind when handling electrical wires or appliances. Here are some general safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Try not to bend any leads – keep them as straight as possible and out of the way, so that you don’t trip over. Not only could you have a nasty fall, but you could damage the lead.
  • Never use power boards or extension cords outside unless they are rated for this type of use. Contact with rain or extreme sun heat can cause damage and possibly a fire.
  • As long as you don’t overcharge them by piggybacking double adaptors, power boards in Australia are generally safe as they have a safety switch that turns the power off if they become overused or overcharged. However, double adapters do nothave this feature, and could be hazards. Many companies do not use them altogether, and in the state of Victoria double adaptors cannot be used on building sites under a mandated industry standard.

Familiarise yourself with the fuse box. Sometimes, when the house is using more power than it can handle, it will shut down. Before calling an electrician, check the fuse box first and see if any switches are down. If that’s the case, pull them up to restore the power.

When planning a home renovation it’s easy to focus on the big picture things – the placement of walls, what colour curtains and carpets will work and where your furniture will fit. We all know though how frustrating it can be if electrical outlets aren’t in the right place. It’s for this reason that I recommend you speak to your electrician early in your renovation planning.

A good electrician will be able to advise you and discuss things such as:

  • Where do you want your light switches – near your favourite chair, near doorways, somewhere that suits your family in particular?
  • If you are wall mounting your tv, what wiring will be required behind the tv?
  • Where do you want USB outlets – near where you watch TV so you can charge your phone while relaxing? In the kitchen so you can read recipes off your phone without running the battery down?
  • What outdoor lighting requirements will change as a result of your renovation? Will you be creating a new courtyard area? Will a pre-existing outside light be removed as part of the process and require reinstallation?
  • Do you want an exhaust fan in that brand new laundry you’re building?
  • Would speaker wires through the house work for you for music or TV watching?
  • Have you considered 2 and 3 way switches? Or dimmable lights? Or fans?

Don’t wait until your renovation is underway as this is likely to add to the overall cost – get in early and get a plan of action in place with your electrician to save yourself money and to ensure the renovation works for you.

When you’re planning a renovation, big or small, it’s important to factor in specialist electricians to ensure the entire project runs smoothly.

Whether you’re renovating a bathroom, kitchen or overhauling your entire house, you’re mostly likely to be modernising and upgrading multiple elements of the electrical installation. This may include anything from new power points, LED strip lighting, LED down lights, switchboard safety switches to garden lighting.

It’s critical to have a plan of what you would like to achieve from the initial stages of design. Speaking with an experienced residential electrician on the Northern Beaches and North Shore prior to and during the planning stages will benefit to obtain a transparent, free quote and to ensure excellent results, meeting all expectations.

We at Thrive Electrical cater for full home renovations, kitchen and bathroom makeovers, outdoor garden lighting, underfloor heating and everything in between. We have been seeing a massive trend towards LED lights that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but energy efficient and great for the environment.

Not only do we specialise in phone, data and CCTV connections, rewires, LED downlights and switchboard replacements, we also offer plumbing services for any part of your home makeover.

If you’re thinking about renovating or may be looking to renovate in the near future, give us a call and get a 10% renovators discount. We offer this discount if you book Thrive for both your electrical and plumbing services.