Self-build diary: first fix plumbing and electrics

Written by Charlie and Helen – Plot 1 (Church Cottage) homeowners


On Monday 26th August, bank holiday Monday, we had an on-site meeting with our plumber and electrician to go through what we needed. “So where’s everything going then?” “Have you got a technical electric plan?” We didn’t… We had the floorplans with red marks on for the ‘plugs’ and blue marks representing ‘switches.’ Our poor plumber and electrician were very patient with us, as we hadn’t completely decided on most things.

For our plumbing, we were waiting to see how much space everything required before being sure it would all work. We knew where we wanted large objects such as showers, baths and the kitchen sink to go, however, we found it a little trickier to pin-down an exact location for towel rails and toilets etc. We were also trying to design and envisage a ‘plant room’ based in a space in the downstairs loo which would then be studded, enclosed and infilled by a washing machine and dryer.

For Helen and I, our challenges came in the form of making soil stacks as unnoticeable as possible; one creeping down behind the kitchen larder and another into the downstairs loo. Thankfully, this was taken care of during the 3D architectural design stage with Oakwrights, where we worked with their team to ensure our bathrooms were laid out in convenient locations making the transport of waste pretty straightforward.

Making decisions about our electrics was slightly easier, and we began this process by walking around the skeleton of our cottage, trying to imagine how we may live. We chose to position plugs everywhere to accommodate any possible future needs we may have and then moved onto carefully considering our light switches. To avoid scenarios such as falling down the stairs in the dark or leaving the lights on all night, we wanted to be able to turn the upstairs landing lights on to get up the stairs but then turn the downstairs lights off when you get up there, and vice versa.

We went with a very minimal lighting design downstairs and installed dimmable spots everywhere. I like how dimmers can change the mood without the need of multiple corner lamps. Upstairs, we opted for uplighters to highlight the oak in each room, and my favourite light is the LED strip that runs along the oak in our master bedroom.

Church cottage's master bedroom

Written by Craig and LB – Plot 2 (Manuka Cottage) homeowners


Craig took the reins when it came to sorting first fix plumbing and electrics. He had received a recommendation for a plumber who was very local to us and fortunately one of Craig’s school friends is an electrician, so we were up and running in no time.

In terms of the electrics, Craig had a good idea from the start regarding where he wanted sockets and lights. He worked through this plan with our electrician, Chris, who often brought a theatrical approach to his visits by acting out how we would use our home and encouraging us to put in more light switches than what we thought we initially needed.

We began by considering the floor spots in our hallway as this required some forward planning, and the wiring needed to be arranged prior to the screed and underfloor heating. These are one of our favourite features in our oak frame home, so I’m very pleased we arranged to meet with our electrician earlier than I thought was necessary. For the rest of the lighting in our cottage, we’ve gone for a mixture of spots, pendants, LEDs and uplighters. Chris suggested we add in a lot of Category 6 cabling throughout the house to ensure there would be no WiFi dead spots and it’ll also give us the option of switching to low energy lighting in the future.

For the plumbing, Craig approached this project as a carpenter with an existing dislike for boxing in any of the bathrooms. This meant he worked with our plumbers early on to ensure all the pipework and drainage were in service voids in the walls. We opted for a larger than necessary combi boiler over a service boiler as no water tank is needed and it saves space. The shower and bath can also run at the same time without anyone getting any surprises!

We planned all the bathroom fittings with our plumbers and asked them to fit the shower trays during the first fix so we minimised any step-ups into the showers.


Charlie and Helen, and Craig and LB based their dream home designs on our oak frame Cottage range. Click here to view the six cottage templates from this range which vary in size to suit your plot and can be tailored to your specific requirements.

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