Full rewire in Manchester

Case study: West Didsbury, Manchester

Case study: West Didsbury full rewire – Part 1 : Lighting first fix

In this series of articles, we’d like to take you through a complete rewire at this property in West Didsbury, Manchester. Our customer is having a wide range of high quality products installed, and it provides a good idea of some of the range of installation services we provide. To give you a brief overview, we will be looking at lighting from manufacturers such as Astro and Collingwood, lighting control from Lutron, heating control and underfloor heating from Heatmiser and Heatmat.

We’re also installing a Texecom alarm system, and a Hikvision CCTV system in this property: both these allow for remote access to monitor from a remote location.

This series will also show you what’s involved at the first fix stage so you can see what goes on behind the scenes of a rewire. As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss something similar for your business or home.

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Custom lighting design and design ideas

Lighting in the property has been carefully considered: there is a combination of downlights, decorative pendants and mood/feature lighting used throughout. Where the requirement is for a “standard issue” downlight, we are a big fan of the Collingwood H2 lite. This is an integrated downlight (no need to change lamps) and comes with a 4-year warranty. They are very reliable, come in a variety of temperatures, have a variety of bezel types, are cost effective, and importantly for us, are very quick and easy to fit from an installers perspective.

We have also used Collingwood FL security lights externally, again due to their reliability and discreet design – they all have a colour change switch depending on the flavour of light you require.

Where something slightly more bespoke was required, our customer has opted for Astro lighting. They have a wide range of minimal contemporary designs available. Make no mistake, they make premium products, but the build quality is excellent and the warranties extend to 3 years from purchase. As with the Collingwood products, Astro lights are great to fit for installers. In our experience, lower quality lighting might be cheaper at the point of purchase, but it takes longer to install due to tight enclosure spacing, or poor quality design. The money saved on the initial outlay is swallowed up in installation costs; plus you won’t get the same length of warranty or reliability of more expensive products.

For example, they have opted for Astro Borgo trimless LED wall lights to illuminate the stairs: these have to be literally plastered into the wall but give a seamless subtle finish. An Astro Cabin Wall Frosted light has been used to illuminate the front door, and Lago wall lights are used to provide mood lighting in what will be the dining/social area.

To control the lighting, we will be using Lutron RA2 select in-line dimmers and switches. These will be paired with stylish Lutron Pico switches to control both individual lights, and to control scenes where multiple lights can be controlled and dimmed at the touch of a button. We’re big fans of Lutron; it just works! The communication is via RF, rather than say, wi-fi, bluetooth or Zigbee (as with Philips Hue) – RF is rock solid and doesn’t require communication with a separate device; one thing less to go wrong.

Please note, photos of lighting courtesy of the respective manufacturer’s websites.

As of September 2020, this is still an ongoing project, so we’ll update you with the rest of the lighting used in the property as and when it is installed.


First fixing the lighting

First of all, what does first fix mean?! First fixing is the process of the electrician running the cabling required to power your lights, sockets and fixed loads in the fabric of the building. Sometimes this might involve “chasing out” channels in plaster which must be then patched up. Sometimes the walls will be taken back to brick, and then plasterboarded and skimmed. Sometimes first fix will involve cutting out discs in your ceiling to allow downlights to be recessed into the ceiling at the second fix stage.

As a homeowner having a rewire done, the first fix stage can be messy, and a little scary if you’ve never seen it before – “What have they done to my house!” It is however nothing to worry about, and as soon as the plasterer has been to skim your walls, it will feel as if we were never there.

The gallery on the right will show you what was involved in the first fix of some of the lighting in our Didsbury customer’s property.

The first 3 photos show the dining and social area at various stages: marking up before plastering, and after plastering, the room has had the Astro wall lighting and custom wooden seating area installed.

Next, a before and after of the kitchen first fix: this room has also been plastered – although it is still yet to be fully finished, you can see it now looks less like a building site! On the early kitchen photo, you can see an example of a channel cut into the plaster to allow us to run cable up to the first floor – again, this channel has been filled in by the plasterer.

You will see pictures of the entrance hallway and stairs where we have had to carefully cut out boxes into the plaster: this where the Astro trimless fittings will be plastered in to give a subtle illumination upon entry to the property. Please keep checking back to the blog to see the final effect once these fittings have been second fixed.


In the next instalment we will talk about the heating installation: we’ve installed wet underfloor heating in the kitchen, and some electric underfloor heating in the bathroom, plus we’ve re-supplied all the radiators in the property ready to be controlled by Heatmiser thermostats.