Cost of plumbing and electrics

Image by Ksenia Chernaya

How much your plumbing and electrics will cost when building new or renovating in Ireland today.

In this article we cover:

  • Typical cost of heating and electrics in new build homes
  • Cost of heat pumps in NI and ROI
  • How much you can expect to spend on electrics
  • Main elements that drive up costs

Systems that run the house, from keeping your home supplied with fresh air to those that you use to heat both hot and cold water and the spaces you live in, from heating to ventilation, are likely to represent a significant outlay.

In recent times, heating and plumbing has become an area where it can be difficult to stick to the budget. As a design develops in a property, the requirements to meet the regulations on energy and insulation can also change along with the desire for more economically driven sources of heating.

With changes in any design come changes in cost and plumbing and heating changes can be expensive. In projects where the time is spent before tender stage to fully detail and understand the requirements of the property, the budget is well protected, but where a standard system is specified in a provisional manner, it is often the case that the cost will skyrocket when the specific system for the specific house is designed.

Given the material choices available and the array of companies that manufacture the products, the price differential from company to company can be substantial and therefore on any item where the setting of a budget has not occurred based on an actual cost, it can be difficult to meet that budget need. Remember that every car has an engine, wheels, seats, controls, electrics, values, pumps, and the likes, but no two cars are the same. Plumbing and electrics can be exactly the same.

Heat pumps

Heat pumps are currently more expensive than the liquid or gaseous fuelled systems we have been used to, but do not be tempted to save on capital costs by undersizing the system as it may either struggle to heat the house or end up costing more than you expect – or both.

The cost of installing a heat pump can vary widely. Although it can depend on the manufacturer but most of the cost has to do with sizing (the bigger the house the bigger the size of the heat pump) and how much hot water storage you need. How difficult the installation is will also impact on cost. Get at least three quotes to compare specification and cost, choosing reputable installers.

cost plumbing electrics
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This will be a prerequisite for grant aiding which are only available for existing buildings.

In ROI, supplier quotes found online range from €8.5k-€14.5k bracket to €12k-€18k bracket for homes up to 200sqm. And between €15k-€23k for homes up to 500sqm. In NI, the Energy Savings Trust reckons a heat pump installation costs £7k to £13k – presumably for the smaller sized homes.


Without doubt one of the most unexpected budget busters in any build is the electrical work. Identifying the number of sockets, spotlights, wall lights and external lights or even the numbers of switches in a property before starting can be difficult. And so the electrical package often does not get the level of interrogation it deserves.

By way of a typical example, it is often the case that by default a builder or designer will allow for three double sockets in a bedroom. However, when met with the marked up locations onsite, a client will usually seek to add at least two more on average to each room.

If you take a bedroom, it is now common to have a socket on each side of the bed and one in each corner at the opposite side with a further socket at high level for a tv. This therefore requires five instead of the standard three. In a four bedroom house this change alone has added circa €/£800 to the cost.

Add to these changes the number of sockets required in the kitchen, the utility room, the tv or living rooms and the electrics budget can very quickly change as other aspects of the house design change.

cost plumbing electrics
Image by Michal Jarmoluk

The type and quantity of switches, the colours of faceplates (chrome instead of white) and the introduction of in-joinery lighting (in cabinets, bookcases, shelving, etc.) are other ‘extras’ often found
in the final account.

Added to the above is the ever growing desire for smart technology. So you can talk to the oven, sound system, lighting and even TV. Care should be taken to really think these systems out as they can often be replicated with plug and play options at a fraction of the cost. You could spend 10k on a lighting system or just buy a smart home system with a few smart sockets and plugin lamps for less than 1k.

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Keith Kelliher

Written by Keith Kelliher

Keith is a quantity surveyor with over 20 years' experience and is the founder of Kelliher & Associates Quantity Surveyors.

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