Being able to design and build your own home is a real privilege but for most, it is one of the most stressful things they will do in their lifetime, here are our top tips for self-builders.
- Do your research, search the internet, Google, Pinterest, Instagram, magazines etc. to find the style of house that you would love to build.
- Meet with your bank or mortgage broker, it is vital to know how much you have to spend on the project.
- Write a list of priorities, how many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Do you want a large utility/bootroom? A huge open plan space? Individual rooms?
- Hire an architect and engineer. It is so tempting to save money here and maybe only go with an engineer to design the house. An architect will think about the landscape, day light and much more and you will end up with a far more considered home.
- Study the design. Does it meet all of your priorities, is it practical/functional? I recently looked at a set of plans for a large home where the kitchen was located very far away from the bedrooms. Not practical for families or even if you wanted a glass of water at 3am.
- Is it within budget? It makes sense to hire a Quantity Surveyor at this point. We have all seen the battles between Dermot and Patricia and co on Room to Improve.
- It is never too early to start thinking about finishes. I would highly recommend hiring an interior designer before the build starts. Remember an interior designers’ role is to listen carefully to you, the client, and to help you translate your ideas into a coherent design. It will save you, time, money and stress, it will also bring a fresh creative perspective to your build.
- Once planning is approved start researching materials for the interiors. Look at kitchen styles, bathrooms, doors, skirting boards etc. get samples, put them somewhere that you see them every day, if you still love them after a few weeks, it reassures you when making the final decision and avoids rushed choices.
- Spend your budget wisely. Invest in the windows, insulation, floors etc. It’s very easy to spend money on things that really don’t make an impact, such as, expensive light switches and plug sockets etc. If you have the budget, great, but if you are finding things tight, take some time to consider what you are spending your money on.
- Stick to your gut, remember it’s your home and you have to love it, trends come and go.
- It is such a privilege to build your own home, try and enjoy it, I know, easier said than done.
Written by, David O Brien, Interior Designer and Project Manager for RJ O ‘Brien Building Contractors Ltd. Cork