3.5 Services and fixes

What happens when the machines are finished?

image: Installing raised floor

Imagine an empty office or classroom. It might seem clean and bare. But the walls and ceiling hide a complex network of wires, pipes and frameworks.

Craft trades create these interiors and connect vital services. Services are connected during first and second fixes. The dividing point is when the walls are boarded and plastered:

First fix

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Second fix

Once the services are in place, they must be tested and commissioned to make sure that:

  • they work as planned
  • they meet British and/or European Standards.

The commissioning process usually takes place as a building project is nearing completion. The mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems need be fully operational and working properly before the building is handed over to the client and signed off as being complete.

image: Installing mechanics and electrics

In large projects the MEP installations can be very complex. They could involve air conditioning systems, heating installations, renewable technologies such as solar panels or photovoltaic arrays, and also the building management systems that control and monitor the building’s environmental performance.

As each system is completed, a commissioning engineer tests the system to ensure that each one is working properly and as designed.

At completion, operating instructions and maintenance details for all the systems are handed over to the client and their building managers. It’s also important to train the people who will manage the building, so they will use the various systems properly and as intended.

  • What services might you need for rooms in a modern college?
  • What extra services might be needed in a specialist room, like a science lab?
  • Why is it important to test new services before the building is used?




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Functional skills

  • Make observations to help you.
  • You could use a table to organise your ideas for different rooms.


I like being able to move around from one job to the next, being in different places all the time. I also enjoy working with people.

Jamie Read
Apprentice Painter and Decorator