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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Getting the First Fix Work Done

A lot goes into the fi rst fi x infrastructure of a home before the walls can be plastered. Chris Bates reveals the lessons we’ve learned during this crucial phase of our build

In this article…

Page 61 Smart home electrics & plumbing infrastructure

Page 64 Whole-house heating and ventilation system

Page 65 Getting the underfl oor heating installed

Page 67 The pre-weathered larch cladding

Page 68 Why we chose slimline sliding doors

There’s been a big communal push at the Build It Education House site over the past couple of weeks to try to get the fi rst fi x complete – with various teams beavering away to keep ahead of the plasterers. On some days, we’ve had upwards of a dozen operatives on site moving their parts of the project forward.

Seeing all of this come together is immensely rewarding. But it’s fair to say the organisation side of things sucks up a lot of your time and energy. Scott (from Drewett & Hunt, our lead contractor) and I have regular catch-ups over the phone, but I’m only able to spare two days a week to actually get on site – so it’s diffi cult to always be fully in the loop. The slightly unusual nature of our project, as an Education House, also makes the process a little different to your typical self build.

Managing fi rst fi x works

One thing that’s shone through every part of this phase is that all your trades want to do a good job. They’ll be happy to chat through what they’re doing on site and make suggestions that might help you out. But if you’re taking on some or all of the project management, you’re still going to need to put a lot of effort into coordinating the different operatives and suppliers – particular in terms of understanding exactly what’s needed, where and when. It’s not rocket science, but you do need to keep the channels of communication open and be prepared for the fact that some things might fall through the gaps.

Trimming out some small areas of polysytrene will allow us to recess services slightly, minimising the amount of boxing out and leaving as much fi nished fl oor space available as possible

At the start of fi rst fi x, the building is completely open, so running cabling, ducts and pipework is straightforward. As the infrastructure, stud walls, acoustic insulation, sockets and switches go in, you really begin to see your new home take shape. But as more of it gets closed off, and the plasterboard starts to go on (a necessity to allow things like socket back boxes to go in), the whole site team needs to take extra care to ensure everything that needs to have been done, has been.

QUICK GUIDE What is Build It’s Self Build Education House?

The Build It House is a pioneering real-life project designed to give you a unique insight into the process of self building your own bespoke home. The Education House is being erected on Graven Hill, the UK’s largest custom and self build development ( We’ll be following the design and build journey both in the magazine and online – sharing the highs and lows of how a project comes together.

Once it’s completed, the Self Build Education House will showcase the design possibilities and practical choices you’ll need to make over the course of your own scheme. You’ll get to see a wide range of innovative products in situ, from heat pump ventilation through to acoustic screeds, with cutaway panels demonstrating how they’re installed. The fi nished house will also feature detailed informational graphics explaining the decisions Build It made on this project and how different choices would have affected our construction schedule and costs.

Follow our journey at


Located near Bicester in Oxfordshire, Graven Hill is the UK’s largest self build scheme, and the government’s poster child for how bespoke home building could become much easier and more commonplace. Build It fully supports this council-led initiative, and we saw it as the ideal location, right in the heart of England, to create our unique Self Build Education House. Backing on to Grand Designs: The Street (to the west of the main development), our corner site is part of Graven Hill’s Community Streets character area. There are some site-wide rules we have to abide by, such as ridge heights, build zones and the amount of gross internal fl oor area – but this location gives us a high level of design fl exibility.

For standard self build plots at Graven Hill, the overarching parameters are set out in a Plot Passport – and provided your scheme falls within the guidelines, you should get fast-track planning permission within 28 days. These sites are also sold on a Golden Brick basis, including services up to the plot boundary and foundations built to suit your design – taking much of the risk out of a traditional self build. There are a range of other opportunities, from serviced self build plots like ours through to custom builds where you get to choose layouts and internal fi nishes.

For more information and to reserve a plot visit

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About Build It

Make a success of your bespoke home building project with inspirational design ideas and practical advice from Build It magazine. Our September issue includes: - Barn Conversion Guide - Buying Land - money saving tips - Should You Use an Architect? - Designing Your Home Renovation - Windows: Repair or Replace? - Build It's real-life Self Build Education House ... and more!