Many self-builders – perhaps even a majority, and especially those on a low budget – choose to build using subcontractors.

In some ways this is like learning to swim in the deep end: choosing to build without the backup of a builder and taking on a project that in most cases is way outside their normal life experience. Most are successful. Most experience a very steep learning curve that involves mistakes, delays and misunderstandings on site, which the repeat self-builder will make certain never happen again.

Learning the sequence of events on a building site is invaluable. Learning what each trade does and where their responsibilities begin and end is vital. And learning that the critical path in building can so easily be thrown off course – and how to get it back on track again – is essential.

Listing the tasks of each trade is one thing. But all but a very few overlap to some degree and it’s important to understand the grey areas between, which can be the responsibility of a builder but which, in their absence, often falls to the self-builder.

The Electrician: What needs laying on?

  • Most are supply and fix so will provide their own kit
  • If you are supplying things like light fittings, make sure they know about them in time and that you’ve got them on time

Who do they work with?

  • They work closely with the plasterers and tackers to line up and install back boxes
  • They work alongside the plumber to cross bond and earth all pipework and to fire up the boiler

What do they do?

  • Fit temporary consumer unit to building supply
  • Install and connect earth rod
  • Lay and fix all carcassing wiring
  • Drill joists where necessary
  • Fix backplates to outlets and controls
  • Fix proprietary sheathing over wires in walls
  • Fix and wire up faceplates to outlets
  • Fix and wire up light pendants
  • Fit and wire up ceiling and wall lights
  • Fit and wire up all external and security lighting
  • Fit and wire up extractor fans and cooker hoods
  • Cross bond and earth all pipework and sanitaryware
  • Fit and wire up consumer unit
  • Wire up thermostats and programmers
  • Attend with plumber for firing up and testing of boiler and central heating
  • Test system

Timings

  • It’s good to have them available at the commencement of work for emergencies or to install a temporary consumer unit to any building supply
  • The first time they’ll appear substantively on site is to first fix or carcass once the property is in the dry around the thirteenth week, when they’ll spend between five and ten days on site
  • They’ll come back for another week when the plasterers have finished and then, at the end, spend a couple of days with the plumber firing up the boiler and testing out

What do they cost?

Most give a lump sum price for supply and fix. Electricians price themselves at £150 per day for most of the country and usually work alone or with a trainee who may earn an additional £65 per day.

Grey Areas

There are none. Their price will be according to the agreed schedule of works, backed up by a plan with symbols of what goes where.

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