First Fix Plumbing and Electrics

First Fix Plumbing and Electrics

Your checklist for consideration

First fix plumbing and electrics happen early on in a build or renovation. For sure, you’ll want to get all pipework and wiring in before the walls are plastered. Changes later will be messy, costly and will impact your timeline.

This means you need to establish plumbing requirements, kitchen and bathroom layouts, electric points, sockets and lighting at the shell stage of your build. This can be fairly daunting, thinking that far ahead to your finished home. Considering what is going to go where furniture-wise, sanitary-wise and appliance-wise is not a quick feat. But it’s a necessary consideration to get your first fix plumbing and electrics mapped out early to ensure a cost effective and timely build.

So to help you through this thought process I’ve provided a checklist below. I’ve been through this process many a time over the years with our various house moves. On one occasion my husband gave me 12hrs notice that the electricians were coming to do first fix plumbing and electrics. So I had to get thinking quick! 

I’m sharing my thought process with you in the hope that this makes your decision process that little bit easier too.

Lighting & Charging Points

First Fix Plumbing and Electrics

What sort of lights will you have and where will they go in each room?

Spotlights or pendants? You will need to factor in the void space you have above the ceiling for spotlights to ensure they are feasible. If in doubt, check with your electrician. If you like the idea of spots but they aren’t a viable option, you can find some nice ceiling mounted spotlights on the market too.

Wall lights?

Floor or table lamps for practical impact and interior styling? Where will you place these in the room?

You should also consider where will you switch the lights on/off from. Do you require multiple locations for switches? For example, in a bedroom, do you want to be able to switch the lights on/off both from the entrance to the bedroom and from the bedside? Do you want to switch the stair lights off from both upstairs and downstairs? Naturally, with smart technology this can now also be achieved with wi-fi enabled light switches. You can switch lights on and off via an app, or with the help of Alexa, but it’s handy to have the manual functionality where it’s needed too.

With bedside sockets and lighting, you should think about where your beds will be located within the bedrooms. And consider the size of the beds that will go in – kingsize, single etc. It’s important to position the electrical outlets in the correct place relative to the bed position. Also consider what style your bedside reading lights will take – wall lights, pendants, lamps?

It’s really important with lighting to factor in the intended use of each area of your home to ensure you have lighting to support that. Where an area is multi-functional, such as a work space by day and a family dining area by night, ensure the lighting set up caters to both.

In the modern era of everything being chargeable via a USB, you should also factor in charging points where required, getting dual purpose sockets.

Finally, be sure to consider any lighting required for special effect in the home. You could require a picture light to light up a piece of artwork, stair lights, or bar area. Either way, visualise what is required and be sure to plan ahead for it with your electrician.

Fitted Furniture

As well as considering lighting and electrics around your furniture, you should also think about any fitted furniture plans. Whether it be fitted furniture for an office, shelving or wardrobes, consider your electrical or lighting requirements for these. You may well want some feature lighting built in to them so will need to co-ordinate between your fitters and electricians so everyone is on the same page.

Ordinarily, the companies you have appointed to design and supply your fitted furniture will supply you with drawings, to include electrical plan for your electrician’s reference too.

Self-grooming

Where will you be doing your final touches whilst getting ready for the day? We’re talking make-up & hair. Will you have a dressing table or vanity unit of some kind that requires lighting and electrics for your hairdryer or straighteners. Will you have special lighting in this area?

Bathroom Considerations for first fix plumbing and electrics

First Fix Plumbing and Electrics

When choosing the furniture and fittings for your bathrooms, you will need to liaise closely with both plumber and electrician to understand what is possible and then accommodated in your first fix plumbing and electrics. You may like the idea of a wet room, but not all sub-floors will accommodate this. You may like the idea of fixtures that come out of the walls, but you’ll need to ensure your walls have the strength and depth to accommodate this. What sort of plumbing and/or electrics will your toilet require? In the picture above, the toilet is electric. It therefore needs a supply of both plumbing and electrics to it. Where is the soil stack and what impact does this have on the piping and direction of waste required from your toilet?

What sort of bath / shower are you having and where will it be turned on/off from. It’s always nice to have easy access to turn the shower on and get the water warmed up before you step in.

For your bath and basin taps, where will they be located? Wall mounted or on the bath/basin units – centralised or to the side? How will the waste work? Ensure these are all fully discussed and agreed with the plumber so you are on the same page, know that what you want is possible, and for the correct pipework to be set up in the right locations to accommodate it all.

Will you have bathroom cabinets with lights and integrated shaver / toothbrush charger sockets? Again you’ll need to allow for the electrics to accommodate these. Also give some thought to any ‘mood’ lighting you may want in the bathroom or any cubby holes you’re building in to the walls that you may want to light up. And consider separate lighting circuits to achieve the mood required, so you may have the main light for example on a separate light circuit to subtle mood lighting. There’s nothing worse than going to spend a penny in the middle of the night but having to turn on bright lights to see where you’re going, then you’re fully awakened!

If you’re looking to have fancy jacuzzi bath or taps with lights to change the colour of the water, then think ahead to the electrics for these too.

You will need bathroom extractors as a building regs requirement, so check with the electrician how and where these will be operated from a separate isolator switch.

TVs, Gaming, Sound & Music

TV Media Unit

Which rooms will have TVs in and will these be wall mounted or sitting on top of a cabinet of some kind? This will determine the location of the electrics for these. This should be a key consideration for first fix plumbing and electrics, and you should think long term so that are set up to grow with your family.

Where TVs are likely to be used for gaming, you should consider HDMI sockets along with TV aerial socket and plug points. We’d always go for 2 double sockets in these areas too allowing for the various devices that may need to be connected.

And don’t forget to consider how are you wanting the sound system to work within your home relative to music and TVs, and if you want any of these systems to extend to the outdoors.

Home Office

Home office
Home Office

Thought needs to be given as to where you and the various members of the family will be studying or working from home – so much more relevant these days! Again, where you plan to plug in the likes of computers and printers, we’d always allow for 2 double sockets in these areas, and USB ports integrated with the plug sockets for charging.

Give some extra thought as well to the lighting requirements in your office or study areas – you are likely to spend a lot of time there so need to ensure there is enough light for good visibility, but limited glare on your screens.

Kitchen & Utility Considerations for first fix plumbing and electrics

First Fix Plumbing and Electrics

Your kitchen is most likely going to be the most complicated room to factor in for first fix plumbing and electrics so start early with your kitchen design. Kitchens often have an 8-12 week delivery if they are made bespoke, but first fix plumbing and electrics are done weeks ahead so allow ample time.

So, for ease here’s a checklist within my checklist of stuff you may want to consider with your kitchen, both relative to the appliances you plan to have and the location of them. Your kitchen supplier, plumber and electrician should be on the same page. Similar to any fitted furniture designs, the company designing and supplying your kitchen should be able to provide plumbing and electrical plans for the relevant trades.

  • fridge, freezer – water/ice dispensers? Connection to water?
  • wine fridge?
  • hob – gas, electric, induction? Where’s the extraction going?
  • instant hot water tap and/or filtered water?
  • waste disposal?
  • water softener?
  • oven(s)/microwave?
  • washing machine & tumble dryer
  • additional utility room sink
  • lighting – ceiling spots, pendants or combination of both? Kitchen diner lighting? Feature lighting under worktops or built in to light up kitchen cabinets/shelving? Where you are placing pendant lights over a kitchen island or dining table, careful planning is needed on the exact locations allowing for seating space around these too.
  • food preparation areas – where do you need electric sockets to plug in mixers, kettles, coffee-machines and other appliances that will either be in permanent position on your worktops, or make temporary outings for various food prepping? If you’re having an island in the kitchen, a retractable/pop-up double plug socket would be highly recommendable, and this is often a great place for a combi socket/phone charger.

Boiler & Heating important considerations for first fix plumbing and electrics

Your electrician and plumber will need to communicate around the electrical wiring requirements of your boiler, heating and plumbing system. Where your boiler and fuse board are to be located should be discussions very early on in your build or renovation project as they require space. Remember a boiler can also be noisy so you need to bear that in mind with where it is located.

If you’re building an eco home with the likes of air source heat pumps and mechanical ventilation you’ll need an area designated as a plant room to accommodate all the equipment that comes with this, so ensure these are considered early on.

Are you having underfloor heating? Again, this is installed early on and will have other flooring requirements / impact.

Windows & Window Coverings

Velux window

Will you have any velux windows, domes or similar that you can’t reach and plan to operate electronically? There are great solutions out there now that have built in rain sensors, but of course these will only work as intended if they’re connected to the electric circuitry of the house.

Do you plan to have any curtains, blinds or other that will be controlled remotely? If so, don’t forget to allow for the electrics to accommodate this.

Sensors v Operated Switches

In some rooms it may be more practical to have lights that automatically switch on when you walk in or open doors. We have done this in the past for walk-in-wardrobe areas, bathrooms, WCs, boot rooms, and utility rooms. This is down to personal preference but can be handy in certain rooms. If you’ve got people in the house who are also elderly, having switches that automatically come on to light the way for them when it’s dark can also be a good safety measure.

Spare a Thought for Housework…

Mundane I know to be thinking about cleaning your house when you’ve not even built or renovated it yet. However, don’t forget to consider where you will do your ironing, and where you’ll plug your hoover in to get to the various rooms and corners of the house.

External Lighting, Electrics & Plumbing

External lighting on an outbuilding

What external lights do you require on your patio, your driveway, around the sides of your house and up the garden? Will these be managed by switches (and if so, where in the house will you most likely want to control these from?) or will they be on sensors? Will you have any outbuildings or equipment outside also requiring plumbing, light and electricity. Gym equipment? Hot tub? Office located in an outbuilding? If you’re interested in having a summer house or outbuilding, have a read of our blog about building your own summer house.

Often when building or renovating a home, parts of the landscaping are redone too. This is therefore your opportunity to run any pipework or cables down the garden to out buildings, water features and flower beds!

Connectivity

With home-working as the new norm, smart TVs as standard and families owning a multitude of wi-fi functioning devices, good connectivity in a home is paramount. Reviewing your download speeds and options with your line providers is therefore really important to ensure your broadband will be fit for purpose. Where engineers need to visit site to upgrade or connect a home, this may also need booking in several weeks in advance as service providers are generally working around 3 months out.

Consider whether you need to network your systems, and how ‘smart’ your connectivity needs to be and/or whether you need wi-fi boosters through every level of the house for maximum efficiency. Your electrician should be able to advise on this, but you may additional need to call upon a smart home technician to factor in all your requirements and get everything properly connected up as intended from your music systems to your TVs to your broadband to your home office.

Security & Safety

Last but by no means least, do not cut corners when it comes to your safety and security in the home. Especially when so much thought is going in to everything else, you want to protect your home and family for the longterm too. 

In terms of safety, discuss with the electrician your requirements in terms of carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, whatever is necessary either by law / building regs or for your own personal peace of mind and have these factored in at the outset.  Will they be networked, battery operated or wi-fi operated?

You should also ensure that your electrical set up will be able to cater for your chosen alarm / security system when this is installed too, including any CCTV. Let’s keep your lovely new home safe and sound!

The particularly fun part of course when you’re mapping out the first fix plumbing and electrics for your home is letting your inner graffiti artist come out. Yes, you heard me correctly. This is when you are let loose with a spray can of paint to mark it all out around the house for your electrician and plumber. Enjoy!

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