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Rewiring can be a messy and expensive proposition, but with a little upfront planning you can minimize the disruptions and even turn the job into an opportunity to add features that will increase the value of your home.

Faulty wiring is the leading cause of residential fires, according to a 2009 study by the National Fire Prevention Association.

Follow these tips to get it done without causing undue—or irreparable—damage to your building.

(Photo: Jon Crispin) Computers, blenders, TVs, even refrigerators—none of these existed when many historic homes were built and first wired.

“There are things to be bought and plugged into a receptacle 10 or 20 years from now that are not even invented yet,” says Fletcher. These are heavy-duty data cables that enable the latest features of TVs, stereo equipment, computers, game consoles, phones, security systems—even Internet-based remote control of house systems like heating and lighting.

While a standard electrical upgrade essentially maintains the value of your home, adding structured wiring can increase it.

Decide whether you want to run just electrical, or data, fire, and security as well.

Every house is different and prices vary by market, but for a whole-house rewiring job, you’re easily looking at a bill of several thousand dollars.“Aluminum wiring connections often loosen up over time,” says Greg Fletcher, a master electrician, educator, and author of several books on wiring.“That can cause overheating and possibly fires at receptacles when appliances are plugged in to them.” An inspection can determine whether it’s safe to leave the wiring in place.Your electrical system needs to match your needs; figuring out where and how you’ll be using power makes it easier to frame the parameters of the job.2. Codes set standards for everything from how many outlets you’ll put in each room to what kind of wire you’ll be using.Failing to get permits can result in having to pull out finished work.3.

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“It’s very hard on these devices if the voltage drops off,” says San Francisco-based builder Bob Hauser.

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