Q: How can Selfbuild help with my project?

A: At SelfBuild Ireland we specialise in helping people either build or improve their home via our exhibitions, magazines and online resources. Through these channels Selfbuild is designed to cut through the noise and deliver what matters, whether that be innovative ideas, services, new products, projects or the basics in building a dream home.

Q: What is a self-build?

A: Our definition of a self-build is wide ranging. To us, anyone undertaking significant work on their home or building new, is a self-builder. The build route can be a mix of DIY and tradesmen, tradesmen project managed by the homeowner (direct labour), a mix of a contractor and tradesmen, contractor-led, or turnkey. As a self-builder you can have either a lot or very little to do with the project, getting stuck in or leaving the logistics to a professional project manager – some people specialise in this line of work but building designers such as architects, technologist, engineers or building surveyors, can also carry out this role for you. For an overview of the self-build process click here.

Q: Can you recommend any suppliers?

A: Regrettably, we are unable to recommend any specific suppliers. We do, however, organise the Selfbuild Live events in Dublin (September), Belfast (February) and Cork (November) for you to meet companies face to face. We also have set up a Facebook group for self-builders to share advice and information; you can join here.

Q: I have a question about the cost of my build – can you help?

A: You may find it helpful to use a ‘ballpark’ figure per sqft or sqm, and for this we have a build cost calculator on our website. Every single project is different. Quantity surveyors (professionals specialised in costing projects) are at pains to say that averages aren’t much use because what it will actually cost you to build or renovate your home will depend upon the specific site/location, design and a myriad of other variables, not to mention the going rates in your area.

Q: I need help with plumbing and electrics…

A: These are specialist fields. For instance, in ROI, virtually all electrical work must be carried out by a registered electrician. Plumbing is another area to treat with care and caution and one that’s best left to the professionals. Ask for references if you are employing them yourself. If you have a main builder he will have his preferred tradesmen to work with.

Q: I need help heating my house.

A: In both NI and ROI the first step is usually to get an energy rating done; you will end up with a report detailing what you need to do to make your house more energy efficient. Keeping the heat in with an insulation upgrade may be recommended, with a deep retrofit the gold standard, but if that’s outside the budget heating controls can help you reduce energy use simply through setting the heat to come on only when it’s needed. The report should include heating and hot water options. In ROI you can get grants for energy upgrades, (terms and conditions apply), and part of the grant will go towards your energy rating. Reducing air infiltration makes a big difference but remember to ventilate.

Q: I’m looking for information about grants.

A: We have an overview of the grants that are aware are available in NI and ROI here. The rule of thumb is that grants are usually for existing buildings. The reasoning behind this is that new builds must abide by the building regulations which guarantee a high energy standard and good practice in all other areas.

Q: Questions relating to local authorities, including the planning office.

A: In general, self-builders can contact their local authority to get advice and information for their specific area. Council fees (how much and when they’re due) and the like tend to differ from council to council and can be specific to your site/project. Planning permission procedures are the same for all councils. It usually pays to get advice from a local architect or designer who will know their way around the system.
If you have a unique question about your project, please email us on info@selfbuild.ie and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email astrid.madsen@selfbuild.ie

Ask the expert: Selfbuild Zone

Selfbuild guide to building and extending in Ireland