Understanding the Cost of Rough Electrical Wiring

Photo of roughing in electrical wiring by Mike and Valerie/Flickr.

Rough electrical wiring cost can depend on a number of factors including the type of wiring, the region, and size of a structure. Electricians usually provide estimates and charge by the square foot. We recommend obtaining estimates from several firms to get an idea of the range of costs in a given area. For people who plan on doing their own DIY rough electrical wiring, cost considerations include not just the expense of the materials but also the labor; it's also important to determine whether a licensed electrician needs to plan, supervise, or perform the work in order to satisfy the requirements of the building code.

What is rough electrical wiring?

Rough electrical wiring is the work done before insulation and drywall are installed in new construction or remodels. An electrician installs cable in the walls, running it to boxes where outlets and switches will eventually be housed. Electricians can also run cable to the sites of future fixtures, along with setting up for fixtures that will require special voltages, like washing machines, dryers, stoves, and similar appliances. The work involves some skilled labor as well as comfort with electricity, and must be done properly because bad rough electrical wiring can pose serious risks.

Quality of components 

One factor that can affect cost is the type of boxes and wiring installed, because higher-quality components can raise the rough electrical wiring cost. In some cases, building codes require the use of specific components, and this will need to be factored into any cost estimate. The larger the structure, the more expensive the rough electrical wiring can get, especially in structures with complex wiring needs; a business, for example, may be more expensive.

Special requirements

Things like outdoor-safe wiring can be another contributor to rough electrical wiring cost, as can the requirements of the building code. If licensed professionals are required, it will be more expensive. Likewise if multiple structures need to be wired, such as a house, guest house, and workshop.

What does a rough electrical wiring bid include?

When looking at a bid for rough electrical wiring, be aware that it does not include the cost of buying and installing switches, outlets, fixtures, and related components. Ultimately, wiring a structure can be much more expensive, depending on what kinds of components you buy. An electrician’s estimate should provide a clear breakdown of the types of costs involved in the estimate, including labor and materials, and the electrician can offer information about how much it would cost to finish the wiring after you’ve discussed the fixtures you want and any other needs you may have.

Updated April 16, 2018.

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