If you are building a new home, doing a property renovation, or extension you are likely to come across the terms first fix and second fix electrics (or 1st fix and 2nd fix). You may also hear the term third fix being used. 1st, 2nd and 3rd fix are the different stages of installing new wires and electrical equipment in a building. Roughly speaking they are:
1st fix electrics – this is getting the basic layout of the electrical system in place. It will include installing the wires and the boxes that will hold sockets, switches and light fittings in each room. The 1st fix will be done before plastering, floors and ceilings are installed. This allows all of the wires that your house will need to be hidden in the walls and to be run between floors without having to start putting holes in things later on.
2nd fix electrics – once the plastering has been done and the walls and ceilings are in place the electrician will be called back for the second fix. It is at this point that light switches and plug sockets will have their face plates put on and where lighting will begin to be installed. It is normally at this point that the consumer unit (what used to be a fuse board) will be connected up and the wiring will be tested. By the end of the 2nd fix the main house wiring, light switches and plug sockets should work and be safe.
3rd fix electrics – depending on your building schedule there may still be painting and decorating, wood working, plumbing and other potentially messy trades going on when your second fix is done. If you are having particularly nice light fittings installed, or a home cinema system put in or similar then this may be done as a 3rd fix once all other trades are finished. This is to reduce the chances of someone putting a drill or ladder through your new home cinema screen, and to stop you having to clean saw dust out of your chandeliers.
1st and 2nd fix for smart homes
It is increasingly common for us to install network and data cabling alongside the main 1st and 2nd fix electrics. Typically this will mean running Cat 5 and Cat 6 cabling through the walls along with the electrical cables so that smart home devices and home entertainment systems can be installed in different rooms. Putting in data cables at this point means less potentially messy cabling later on and faster connections for your various devices and home automation tools. Although Cat 5 and Cat 6 are still the most common cables for smart homes we can also install fibre optic cabling.
Certification of Wiring
All new wiring, or significant changes to existing wiring, are subject to building regulations. They will either need to be inspected by Building Control or you will need to use a qualified electrical contractor who can self-certify under the Part P regulations. This certification will confirm that the wiring has been done in accordance with the latest building regulations, and that it has been tested to ensure it is safe.
GW Electrical Services do 1st and 2nd fix electrical installations for home owners, self-builders and as subcontractors on new build projects in the Bristol area. We are a registered NAPIT contractor and we are able to self-certify our work under Part P.