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There’s nothing like getting advice and support from friends and family. The next best thing if you’re building or renovating your home is meeting self-builders who have been through the process and can give you the benefit of hindsight. Five sets of homeowners are at Selfbuild Live to share their experience on a 1-2-1 basis; just put your name down at the clinic on the day to book a 20 minute session. The self-builders will also be participating at the Bootcamp for a Live Panel Discussion.

The projects

Low Energy Timber Frame House 

Peter Williams’ spacious home only costs £40 a month to run, but that’s excluding the telecoms bill…

Built in 2012, Peter’s timber frame house has only been costing him £500 in energy a year. It’s not just because of how well insulated it is – although that’s the core reason – the house in fact boasts a panoply of devices that each contribute to the savings: electricity solar panels (PV), hot water solar panels, LED lighting, heat recovery ventilation as well as a wood pellet stove.

Living the dream

It was always Dom Thorpe’s dream to build a contemporary home, but his wife Nicola wasn’t convinced it was such a good idea… at least at first.

Nicola’s new house was built in a stunning location to a stunning design. What could go wrong? For one she had to contend with planning permission as the site is in an Area of Outstanding Beauty. And with such an ambitious design also came some problems sourcing products, including the floor to ceiling glazing. The build took just under a year and a half; they moved in May 2016. The building method was cavity blockwork.

The contemporary bungalow

For Rodney and Emma McKay of Co Down, building a ‘traditional’ bungalow was out of the question. And the result is very different indeed to what you’d expect a one and half storey house to look like…

To meet the needs of their young family, Rodney and Emma McKay built a contemporary one-and-a-half storey bungalow that’s flooded with light. Their design process took them from the inside out, with the staircase at the centre. Built to a tight budget, Rodney did as much as he could himself and hired a contractor for the rest. The foundations were poured in July 2013, and they moved in February 2015. The construction method was timber frame.


Converting your home into a space that’s tailor-made for you can have life changing consequences, as Siobhan Harkin and Gerry Gormley learned

Siobhan spent many years designing her family home to make it as low maintenance as possible. The result is a renovation and extension project that stays true to the original farmhouse it was built around. Siobhan is also a keen DIYer and was very hands-on during the project which she project managed. The big renovation started in 2015; the construction method was cavity blockwork. This year she plans to create a new road entrance with better visibility lines, put in a turning circle in front of the house and really do up the garden – a passion of hers.

High yield refurb

A kitchen upgrade is all it took for Grainne to give their home a new lease of life. That, and an insulation upgrade.

Grainne’s project is that of a kitchen renovation and new open plan layout consisting of a full refurb with a new island, kitchen units and appliances. She didn’t change any of the windows but insulated the walls, ceiling and floor in the process. To suit the new layout, extra work on electrics, plumbing and plastering were required. She hired a kitchen company to coordinate the trades and Building Control inspections. The transformation took place in the summer of 2015.

Read up on the projects

All 5 self-builders have featured in our Selfbuild magazine and have kindly agreed to attend our Selfbuild Live event in Belfast to tell their story and offer advice to the visitor. Read about their experience in the magazine to give you an idea of what they built. 

Peter’s story is available here, Rodney and Emma’s here, Siobhan’s here and Grainne’s here. Nicola’s project is profiled in the Spring 2019 edition of Selfbuild magazine which will be out in February.

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