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IMAGE x Dyson Self-Build Ireland: ‘It’s a bit like eating a whale… one bite at a time’

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By Sarah Finnan
24th Oct 2022
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IMAGE x Dyson Self-Build Ireland: ‘It’s a bit like eating a whale… one bite at a time’

In the first of our IMAGE x Dyson Self-Build Ireland series, we meet Simona and her fiancé Pat, who are currently in the midst of building their dream home in Newport, Co Mayo, and have plenty of helpful tips and advice.

Self-builds have surged in popularity in recent years. A complete labour of love, the payoff of seeing your dream home come together cannot be underestimated… but it’s not something people take on lightly.

Often a long and arduous process, there are several different factors to take into consideration before heading down the path of building your own home.

Currently knee-deep in the process themselves, Simona and her fiancé Pat have learned many lessons along the way, many of which you will find recorded on her Instagram account. Below, they share their secrets on everything from budgeting to timing to what they wish they knew starting out.

What was the land like when you first got your hands on it? 
There was a dwelling on the site that needed to be demolished and the road to the site was pretty narrow and poor so we had to spend money on getting it ready before work could commence.

When did you start the project?
Our planning permission got approved in January 2021. We demolished the dwelling that was on the site in March 2021 and got the foundation in by June. 

Has it stayed on timeline/budget?
We haven’t had any major delays, thankfully. We got slightly delayed due to some steel structure inaccuracies. We had to order more steel and we couldn’t proceed with other work because of it. That too cost us extra. I have a feeling when it comes to making decisions on interior design, there will be many delays!

Did you stick with the original plan, or did it evolve as you progressed? 
Oh yes, it did evolve! We are lucky because we live 20 minutes away from the site, so Pat is project managing it and is able to check in on the ongoing work. We changed so much when block work started to go up – making rooms bigger, removing windows, changing window position/size… 

What do you now know about self-builds that you wish you knew when you started?
A lot of time goes into researching the smallest of things because you must fill in all gaps between tradespeople. One small setback can end up delaying multiple other jobs on-site, which then costs you more money. Also, not everyone is always so interested in the process – other self-builders love hearing how you are getting on, but some people don’t want to hear about how long it took your windows to arrive on-site!

What advice do you have for homeowners who are about to take on a self-build? 
Get involved with the plans from day one. Imagine the space and how that space will work. For me, the less complicated the better. We removed one window from our open-plan area because we realised we had no wall to put our TV on!

Stick with local tradespeople and talk to people who have used them before. We had to wait for our block layer, roofers and plasterers but when you see the work they have done, you understand why they’re so busy. 

Tradespeople have a lot of experience and when they offer advice you should at least take it on board. You might not want to hear what they are saying, but they are probably telling you for a reason. 

How did you save money along the way?
We built the garage at the same time as the house. It was not cheap, but we knew it would save us money in the future because of where we live. Pat’s mother Kathleen gifted us the site which the bank allowed us to use as the deposit. This freed up our cash deposit to use on the house. We also changed our window sizes after chatting to the block layer because the window sizes we had initially gone with were not standard sizes so they would have cost a lot more.

Did you seek finance? Was it difficult to acquire?
Yes, we got a mortgage. It took longer than expected to get it drawn down but thankfully all worked out. 

What hurdles have you encountered along the way? 
The length it took to draw down the mortgage from the time we were approved in principle to receiving the first drawdown in our account. The majority of contractors and tradespeople are very understanding when it comes to payment if you just communicate with them regularly but, unfortunately, not everyone is as understanding.

What aspect of it have you enjoyed the most?
I’m enjoying seeing the progress, visualising the rooms and making the space work for us. Not sure Pat can say the same as he’s managing the build so it’s more stress than enjoyment for him, I’m sure. He’ll enjoy it after! 

Anything else you want to tell me about the project?
A self-build can be a lot of work and may seem impossible at times but it’s a bit like eating a whale… one bite at a time.

 


 

It takes bravery to follow your design dreams, particularly when those dreams require thinking outside the box. Dyson is, and has always been, a champion of design innovation and creative bravery. In this series IMAGE x DYSON salute Ireland’s brave self-builders who are making their design dreams come true.

Visit image.ie for more in this inspiring IMAGE x Dyson Self-Build Ireland series, plus clever home hacks, cleaning wizardry and more.