Building a House: The Best Bits You Need To Know

Photo Credit : Dakota Roos

As we embark on our little journey towards building a house, this blog will follow the progress throughout the process. Nothing new there, I hear you say. So let’s think about what are the best bits we should cover as we endeavour to turn a field into a home. 

what difference does it make?

Instead of a basic diary format, we’re going to try to look at it from some different angles. What are the most important things to plan for when building your own home? Are there any good resources and tools for managing the build? What about the products and materials used? How much are you going to spend beyond the budget? You get the picture. Here we’re going to select the ‘Best Bits to Blog About on a Build’ and hopefully inform and entertain along the way.

1. A Site for Sore Eyes

We’ve bought our site now so the posts from here on in will look at things you need to consider after you obtain the site. Hopefully some of the information will be of use if you are still trying to buy a site to build a house on. I’m thinking we will be looking at subjects like ground conditions, site clearance, boundaries, views and so on. Maybe we’ll find an underground passage chamber aligned to the winter solstice. Or maybe not.

2. A Design For Life

Along with sharing the sketches and drawings that we will be working through, we’ll share some thoughts on the approach to the design and how everything stems from the design brief. We’ve started on this part of the process already with our architect Mary O’Connell who is showing great patience with our “inspirational” changes of mind…

3. Permission to Land

The planning permission process can be a long and winding road. Hopefully this will run smoothly but we will see. We will do our best to map out the process for you and you might even pick up some pointers by watching us step through the process with the local authorities.

4.Money, Money, Money

This is us doing our bit for the economy and giving a leg up to the construction and banking industries with our own personal stimulus package. Yes, we will need to fund our grand designs somehow. That somehow involves approaching our favourite bank and asking (very nicely) if we could please mind some of their money for a generation. We’ll run through the fun and games of selling our existing house and paying that off before going back again, cap in hand for more money.

5. Love Me Tender

I think this will be of use to many out there as we follow the process of putting our project out to competitive tender once we finalise the design. The job of transforming the field of dreams into the home of our dreams is going to be a team effort. You know the phrase “He’s very handy about the house” – think of the polar opposite and you’ve got me nailed. I hope to share as much as I can in terms of the way we frame the agreement with the people performing the work. Again this may be of interest to people as they try to understand how this works from a contractual perspective. Therefore it’s a “self build” only in name. With the introduction of the Building Control ( Amendment) Regulations in Ireland, it seems that the self builder may be a thing of the past anyway.

6. A Material World

The amount of bits that go into making a home is fairly breathtaking. Rather than compiling a laundry list of items, specifications and prices, I’m going to try to focus on specific products or components of the build. We will examine the pros and cons of these items in a “review” format so that it can hopefully be of use to others out there in the same boat.

7.The Air That I Breathe

We are planning to construct an energy-efficient building, designed and constructed to high standards in the areas of insulation, air tightness and so on. An equally important guiding principle is that the air quality within the building is superior. With an asthmatic in the house (who has a talent for discovering new allergies as well), we will be keeping a close eye (and nose) on the commissioning, installation and functioning of the Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) system that we plan to use.

8. i love it when a plan comes together

I’m planning to plan it all out in a plan so the plan is to share it here, if all goes to plan.

We will have a live Project Plan that hopefully bears some resemblance to the real world project. Feel free to borrow.

9. spend, Spend, spend

We all love watching Grand Designs and listening to Kevin McLoud wonder aloud if the home owners have “bitten off more than they can chew”. Inevitably at the end of the day, the project budget over runs and the owners end up having to hawk out a few rooms in the West Wing to make ends meet. Stay tuned to this station where we will keep track of the monthly spend as the project progresses. We can all watch together as we blow the budget. At least there will be no bad surprises, eh?

10. checkpoint Charlie

Assuming we get some money from the bank and someone to do the work, we will need to have a way of making sure it all goes to plan. As a project manager (admittedly in IT services) married to a Quality Co-ordinator (OK, it’s in healthcare, so what…), we probably have some idea of how to keep tabs on a project. Building a house is a different sport I know but we will outline the various stage gates that we will incorporate into the process. The Bank (and the new building regulations) will be interested observers for this bit !

11. Paradise in the Picturehouse

Photos, Videos, Thermal Imaging, Selfies. Whatever you want, just ask. A time-lapse section would be nice. We’ll do our best.

12. turn you inside out

The focus to this point has been on the preparation for and the process of construction. Later in the project we will look inwards some more at interior design and the products we will be considering. Watch this (inside) space

13. why does it always rain on me?

Just for fun, a weather section. How will the weather affect a building project? Quite a lot I would suspect. There will be stories to tell, no doubt.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

What am I missing? What would you like to see more of? Please leave a comment below or say hello to me on twitter Like a good DJ, I’ll see if I can fit it in to the set.


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