Advice on a new build


Am looking for some advice on a new house build.

I got planning permission for a two storey house in Co Meath and am thinking that it might be a good time to begin building as it is due to expire in 2013.

I would like to spend as little as possible as I cannot afford a big mortgage. I have checked and just sent my plans off to individual builders for pricing. Has anyone any experience of this site?

I would like to break the house build into different stages, example: clearing site, foundations, etc then source the cheapest prices. Does anyone have any advice on where I begin? I’m not sure how many stages there are in building a new house but I would be hoping to source the best and cheapest work and materials.

Does anyone know of a book, magazine or webpage that might help me out? Any advice would be appreciated.



we’re all a little busy around here right now.

someone will get back to you after the run on the Irish banks is over…


We all can’t stop living just coz of the banks and country been fe*cked!
If everyone would get on with life like I’m trying to do, things will eventually get better!


Build it somewhere else. Brazil sounds good. has a self-build section that is very helpful. There are also some old posts on , if they haven’t been deleted!

If you google self-build, you should find lots of info out about the stages and what you need to do. It’s what I did when I built mine.

It will cost you an arm and a leg. Concentrate on the basics - services, living area, kitchen, minimum number of bedrooms, one family bathroom. You can finish the rest as the money comes in.

Don’t skimp on insulation. This doesn’t mean you have to buy expensive stuff, rockwool is fine, but pack it in, make sure there is no chance of it sagging.

PS. you may want to watch your tone of optimistic ignorant bliss. The “life will turn out fine” brigade are what have us in the mess we are in…


Sorry to be flippant.

This website started out as 90% property discussion and 10% economics/politics.

Now the ratios have kind of reversed.

Yoganmahew built his own house. Try sending him a personal message for a start.

Good luck. I hope the savings you are planning on using to build with are somewhere safe.


great thanks… sure I’ll see what the budget brings tomorrow before I make any decisions.


As a selfbuilder, the best advice I can give in today’s climate is, build as small as possible as cheap as possible (except insulation) and make it as energy efficient as possible.

Another thing to consider is the long term viability of where you are planning to live and work, it could become prohibitivly expensive to commute long distances in a few years, look at just how much has changed in the past five years and how much they could change in the next ten!

In other words spend extra on insulation and good design, less on fancy bathroom & kitchen fittings.

Look at the site as well


My advice based on being someone who has a close interaction with the building industry on an ongoing basis:

  1. Trust no one.

  2. Double check the interior design of your house that it is really suitable to your FUNCTIONAL needs and not something that you copied because you though you need it. If you can, visit a beach on a calm day and actually draw out the upstairs and downstairs plans on the beach and then put in furniture by drawing and then do a walk around of your virtual house.
    I emphasize the following weakness in many Irish house designs:

  3. Lack of Storage Rooms.

  4. Lack of Function Rooms (Read about the Futility rooms on Boards)

  5. Pokey and many bedrooms of a small size. Ensure to build bedrooms big and spacious and that they have space for storage

  6. Check the movement and flow of your kitchen area to dining and food preparation - research the Food Triangle

  7. Show your plans to neighbors for comment and consideration and to friends, relatives. It’s worth to gather all of this so that you can modify BEFORE BUILDING.

  8. Do a rational pre-estimate of costs before even getting quotations. Always get 3 quotations. Ask what do you get for your money. Ask for references. Meet with previous customers. Inspect the work.

  9. Hire an engineer or yourself to keep an eye on builders.

  10. Know the building regulations (see and ensure that the entire building when being built follows them to the letter of the law or better. Never skimp here. Always err on the side of compliance.

  11. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are, write down why you believe something is wrong and then ask the why? question up to 7 times to get to the root of the problem. Do NOT make like an RTE reporter. Always keep digging.


Build underground


:stuck_out_tongue: :open_mouth:


I’d urge anyone considering going down the self build route to think long and hard before they do so. I have friends and neighbours who went down the self build route and any of them I was talking to on the subject had at least one horror story to tell.

People tend to assume that you are getting the design you yearn after but in reality your design will more likely than not be constrained by the planning authorities, quite often to such an extent that it bears little or no resemblance to your initial midset.

Also do the sums and make allowances for costs spiralling which they quite often can, in particular if you are going for an elaborate or anyway fancy design. People seem to counter argue that you are building something you will have for the rest of your life and cost should not be a seriously determining factor or something…I don’t really buy into that at all. Granted if you can afforf it, its nice to have a house in the exact location you wish and finished to your preference but where does the premium you pay for such a luxury become too hefty a price…even if you can afford it. I feel a lot of people are so blinkered on their self build that they fail to see the wood from the trees in this regard

I am in a position where I could acquire a site for a nominal price if not free in realaity but all the same I don’t think I’d be so inclined to go down the self build route because of the factors I highlighted above.


What constitutes good design?


In relation to houses, I have always felt that good design is a design that fits the lifestyle and needs of the person(s) who will actually live in the house i.e. bespoke design but not necessarily current best architectural concept.


I know the original post is a few months old, but FWIW here’s a cynical view from my own personal experience of building – yours may differ (but it might not):

  • Trust nobody. Your builder (if you are going with a prime contractor) will be the nicest person you ever met until the project starts. You may very well hate him by the end, so keep the relationship businesslike and not pally.

  • Make sure there is a detailed written-down specification of what the builder is doing, drawn up by an architect or engineer. By the end of the project there will be little (and not so little) items such as what condition the site will be left in – spreading topsoil, finished pathways or hardcore for same etc. You want this all to have been covered in the initial spec, because things will be forgotten otherwise.

  • Ask if you don’t understand a term. An example might be “prime cost” which is supposed to be an approximate cost for something that cannot be fully costed up front. In practice it is the builder giving a stupidly low estimate to make his total price look better than his competitors. He will charge you anything he likes in the end, so challenge all assumptions about cost, especially PCs.

  • Keep a constant eye on progress. If you can’t be on site every day, or most days, then this type of project may not be for you. Something that has been done wrong may not be fixable if you leave it too late.

  • If you’re dealing with a prime contractor, remember not all subbies are equally reliable. If you see a problem with plumbing, or carpentry, or electrics, keep a closer eye on those aspects until the end. At least one of the specialisms will probably be done by someone not fit to be employed, so make sure you don’t pay for their mistakes.

  • Be absolutely clear that you will not be paying for anything that you didn’t agree up front. Say this explicitly – do not leave it to chance just because it seems obvious to you. Your builder will add “extras” to each staged payment, and this will get worse over time if you don’t nip it in the bud. Tell him loud and clear that anything he does on his own initiative will be at his cost, and that you must agree any changes in writing.

  • Do not bow to pressure to finish quickly at the end of the process. Typically that is when YOU will be choosing wall and floor finishings, kitchens, bathrooms etc. Make sure you have done your research in advance, but if you’re not ready, don’t let the builder do things like putting in skirting before your floors are down, or bully you into making snap decisions.

  • When “snagging” do not just do a cursory visual inspection. This is extremely important. You’ll probably assume nobody would intentionally leave a job unfinished, or even untested, whereas in fact the chances of everything being in perfect working order are practically nil. So: test every electrical socket; test every tap including plumbing for washing machine, dishwasher etc. Do this with hot water available to make sure everything is plumbed the right way round. Check that plugholes and drains drain, and that overflows work. Douse grouted seals with water – bath and shower tray edges, sink surrounds etc. (and leave time to spot any soakage through plaster or walls). Run your heating system for at least a day or two (regardless of whether this was also done during the building’s “drying out” period). Hose down roofs and make sure your guttering is correctly angled to drain properly. Make a detailed inspection of all plasterwork, varnish and paintwork, etc. Be creative in thinking up other things to test. Do not be pressured into snagging in a single two or three hour session. Record everything photographically and in writing, and make sure you specify in detail what and how you expect things to be put right. You will be living with the results for a long time.

  • Make sure you get certificates and guarantees where appropriate – e.g. to prove that your heating system was not only installed but commissioned according to manufacturer’s spec. Ask for proof that your builder has paid any specialist subcontractors, or speak to them yourself, rather than find later that someone won’t come back to service their installations.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s what springs to mind. (I may have mentally blotted other other horrors).


Don’t do it. You can buy one cheaper.


I find that this is generally true for basic houses but I also find that good houses are few and far between and are being held onto by those who have them.