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Self-builders are people who choose to take more direct control over the construction process…

There are many reasons why they might choose self-build.. These include that they may want to use their own skills, or their time, in the construction or supervision process or that they may feel that they can benefit financially through their own input.

There are different approaches a self-builder might take e.g.:

  • They may wish to do all of the construction work themselves.

  • They may wish to manage the project employing the various trades to carry out the actual work (direct-labour method).

The stages a self-builder might follow could be set out as follows:

  • Finding and securing a site. This is a complicated matter and I would strongly suggest that professional advice is sought in this.

  • Arranging finance and setting a realistic budget.

  • Selecting an Architect

  • Deciding on a building approach e.g. direct labour or as fully self-build as possible

  • Securing planning permission and other statutory consents

  • Sorting out essentials such as self-build insurance, the commencement notice prior to start on site

  • Building

  • Building operations 1: groundworks and foundations

  • Building operations 2: making house weather-tight

  • Building operations 3: completing first-fix (cables and pipes)

  • Building operations 4: completing second-fix (outlets, sockets, radiators etc)

  • Building operations 5: completion (decoration)

We suggest that a prospective self-builder might keep in mind the following:

  • A great deal of thought needs to be put into finding and securing a proper site.

  • In setting out the design brief, plan for the long term and consider possible future requirements as well as the present ones. These should be written down and given to the Architect.

  • Bear in mind that you may need to sell on the house in the future even if you are not intending to do so initially. Make sure the house is located, designed and finished to suit a general market as well as to suit yourself.

  • If actually constructing the house yourself, ask yourself if you have the necessary skills to construct the house properly and safely? Can you acquire them? Have a plan for completing work that you will unrealistically be able to do yourself such as electrical, plumbing and plastering work.

  • Be sure to take out appropriate self-build Insurance that will cover the project from its commencement on site to its full completion.

  • Bear in mind that self-build projects frequently take more than twice as long to construct than those carried out by professional builders.

  • In programming the various trades and activities on site, bear in mind the lead-in times for certain building elements such as external windows and doors and fitted -kitchens might be 10 weeks or so.

  • Carefully plan and programme the works so that you have time to e.g. get three quotes for each of the trades and also time to check their references.

  • It is very hard to hold down a full-time job and give a building project its due attention.

  • Allow for the unexpected: unforeseen site conditions, planning issues, bad weather conditions, ill health etc.

S J CARROLL & CO ARCHITECTS can provide full architectural services in connection with your project. We can be contacted at or 086 8293293.

In particular, we can help with the typical issues that accompany self-build projects: site selection at the initial stage and bank certification as the project starts to materialise on site, etc. as well as designing the house with you, preparing the planning application and the construction drawings later on.

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