N.P.L.H. The self-build rollercoaster - Update No 2


Following on from my last update on my self-build journey, I am delighted to report on some slow (but steady) progress!  I had previously mentioned the hope of the good weather holding out but little did I know that a hurricane was about to sweep our nation!

We may not have a house just YET but we do have a pump house!  The day after the pump house was built, we had to batten down the hatches for hurricane Ophelia!  The photo below shows the sky line over the pump house at 12 noon, just before it hit - luckily, all remained intact!


That said, we had a lovely calm day for the drilling of our well.  Being one of the first outlays, this was a bit nerve wracking!  You basically have no clue what the final cost of this aspect is going to be as it all depends on how deep the contractors go to reach sufficient water!  When the contractor said he would give me a call when he was satisfied they had reached an ample water supply, the little voice inside my head screamed – “PLEASE CALL ME REAL SOON”.


So needless to say, the thoughts of having our budget blown to shreds before we get the show on the road was daunting!  Luckily, they struck gold, (I mean water) and a few hours so we could relax (for another while)! 

Taking no chances!

When we heard media reports that insulation was in short supply and facing certain delays in Ireland due to a fire in some German chemical factory.  Apparently, this chemical is a component of the insulation supplied here in Ireland.  Taking no chances, we took immediate action and got our order in straight away! 


It’s funny how you can look at something repeatedly and not notice the obvious!  Recently, when pondering over our house plans, it just dawned on me “hey where is the shower in the main bathroom”? 

Bathroom fit-out dilemma

From the get go, on my long-winded dreamy wish list I had noted a freestanding bath on a raised platform with a feature wall and window behind.  Fast forward to reality and the realisation that from a practical perspective, we definitely needed another shower placed in this bathroom!

When I aired my dilemma, it was quickly suggested that I could simply run with a standard bath and shower with a glass shower screen!  The alarm bells immediate rang and rang LOUDLY........... suddenly I found myself on a mission. 

So here I was faced with the first hurdle of this build project - was I going to falter?  My thinking was, if I were to give up so easily and so early on this high priority wish list item - what the hell would become of my remaining wish list items.  My wish list would remain just that - A WISH LIST!

With this issue, I needed to act quickly.  The bathroom layout needs to be carefully planned and executed and is by no means a piecemeal process.  Bathrooms are very much fixed in terms of connecting to the servicing infrastructure – so mistakes can be costly and time is of the essence in order avoid delays!

With let’s just say not a massive bathroom expanse to work with, in solving this problem, I needed to firstly find inspiration and then crunch the numbers in terms of dimensions to try and make it work.

Inspirational mind field

Initially, I trailed through my entire home magazine stock pile.  Then I swiped at every possible bathroom combo image online via Houzz and Pinterest that featured a freestanding bath and wet-room style shower.  Finally, I found "THE ONE" on the cover (photo below) of one of our bathroom products magazines!  Would you believe this very magazine is one I keep on my desk and reference regularly for our Placelift renovation projects!  This photo manages to capture the exact layout required and choosing the tiles and finishes will be another days work (or weeks works)!! 


At one point, I must admit I felt a bit defeated with the amount of time and energy I was putting into this one aspect.  However, it was both rewarding and a relief to nail this bathroom issue.  In saying this, I really hope that I am not faced with many of these missions (but no doubt, I will).

Crunching those numbers

With any self-build there is always that dread of making the wrong decision (and oh boy are there many decisions to make)!  But let’s face it you are bound to mess up somewhere along the way.  We have all witnessed various types of self-build blunders on the likes of T.V.’s Room to Improve and Grand Designs to name a few.  Any self-builder that I have questioned “If you were to do it all again, would they do anything differently?  All have freely admitted to minor and in some case major flaws that given the second chance they would have certainly approached differently.

With a project of this scale the dreaded budget and contingency are paramount.   While I would much rather focus on the dreamy “wish list”, the harsh reality is that if you are not mindful from the outset, you could end up in deep water.  While we are comfortable working with our own figures, if you are not, we would highly recommend you work with a professional quantity surveyor. 

Size Matters? 

When originally designing our house, we were pushing the boundaries in terms of scale in the thinking that large expanses of open space were an essential ingredient to creating a great home.

Luckily for us, our talented Architect challenged us and took the upper hand in making us realise that in order to achieve a great house that suits our specific needs - that size is not the be all and end all!  He enlighted us of the importance and benefits of clever use of space and also from the outset to strive towards achieving the best possible finishes. 


Looking back now, if we had of pushed the limits in terms of square footage, we could have easily ended up with a large home but with an insufficient budget to give it the finish it truly deserved.  Our house design is by no means lean but a great emphasise has been placed on overall flow, storage, natural light and more importantly - what exactly will work for our family’s specific needs.  Above is a photo of the site marked out and ready to rumble!

In my next update, I hope to bring to you some vital signs of a new build!!

If you are self-building and would like to comment, we would love to hear from you.

Clodagh Doyle