How likely is a home to have neutral at switch box

I currently live in a house that was built in 2011, all of my switch boxes have a neutral wire present and I’ve replaced every single switch with a smart switch.

I absolutely love it and can’t imagine going back. That being said, I’m looking at moving to a different home. I was wondering if anyone has any insight into what years it is likely that I will run into issues because a neutral wire isn’t present.

From what I understand, there was an electrical code change in 2011 that required neutral wires at every switch box. What I don’t know or have a good sense of, is does that mean every home built before 2011 would not have a neutral at every switch box? Did builders put them in out of convenience or anticipation to the new code prior to 2011?

Im looking at homes in the Houston, TX area, more than likely at homes that we’re build in 2005 or later. Any insight to this would be much appreciated!

I think I’ve read somewhere that it was in the 80’s that they started being run to switch boxes


In a Texas major metro built in '05 you won’t have any issues.

1 Like

I don’t think you can simply go by a year for the pre-NEC requirement. My home was built in the 50s and I have plenty of neutrals. Before the requirement for a neutral in the box, it would rely on the electrician’s way of doing things and the proximity of boxes.

For example, consider a 3-way ceiling light leg at the end of a run. Is the ceiling light box closer? Maybe I’ll start there if the circuit is coming from another room. But if my circuit is already in that room, maybe I’ll start in the box since I’m already there.

The shift came around 1985 in most US jurisdictions. My house was built in the 1950s, and most of the switch boxes don’t have neutrals, but some do. :sunglasses:

1 Like

My condo was built in the 70’s and I have neutrals in all of mine except for one. In my experience, if you have a multi-gang switchbox you are more likely to have a neutral. The only non-neutral box i have is one of the only single switches i have in the house.

1 Like

My house was built in 1988 and I have neutrals at all switches. To @Ryan780 most of mine are 3ways.

1 Like

My house was built in 1972 and so far has neutrals in all the boxes.

1 Like

Right, It’s not that there was a rule against having neutrals at the switchbox before 1985. It’s just that there wasn’t a rule requiring them in most US jurisdictions earlier than that. In most places it was left up to the individual builder, and there was a lot of variation. :sunglasses:

Thanks for everyone’s input, I appreciate the fast response. So far the houses I have looked at do in fact have neutrals in the switch boxes. It was good to know so we don’t continue filtering out houses based on the year :slight_smile:


Good luck on the new home! Oh - enjoy the humidity and the speedway they like to call Beltway 8…


1 Like

© 2019 SmartThings, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

SmartThings; SmartApps®; Physical Graph; Hello, Home; and Hello, Smart Home are all trademarks of the SmartThings, Inc.