Spring 2020


In the year 2000, many held out hope that it would be the year in which governments would start tackling climate change. It seemed 20 years would be enough time to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

It didn’t quite happen that way but there are glimmers of hope. For one, hardly anyone shrugs their shoulders anymore at the enormity of what we’re up against, saying nothing can be done on an individual basis. Striving for zero waste has become more mainstream – in the home (p. 15) and in the garden (p. 118).

Still, from a self-builder’s point of view the ‘eco’ challenge is almost impossible to meet as the very activity of building has environmental ramifications. For one, most building materials use up a considerable amount of energy and water to make.

And even though there is a push towards more efficient and less resource intensive building processes (p. 76) ‘eco’ building continues, to this day, to be mostly about the end product: reducing energy bills and increasing the quality of the air we breathe indoors.

So it’s likely that in the next 20 years, conservation and lifecycle analyses will become a more important part of the self-build mix. Watch this space.


Product Description



For the love of the vista – Dawn and Declan Lambe of Co Donegal built their home to capture their jaw-dropping sea and country views.

The game is afoot – Co Antrim’s Jason and Joanna Blake built a home tailored to family living, centred around the games room.

Action stations – Wedding invitations, check. Planning application, check. Leonie and Jonathan Kennedy tackled their major renovation project in Co Mayo as they were getting married.

Legacy – A Co Derry traditional cottage renovation project that goes well beyond preserving history.

Vernacular reimagined – For John and Elaine Lawler of Co Kildare building their family home from scratch was about moving back to their roots.

A (3D) model build – The key to unlocking the right design for Donal and Maria Healy’s Co Derry new build was to use 3D design, but above all to take their cues from the surrounding rural landscape.


Selfbuild Live – A recap of the event in Millstreet this past November along with a review of what you can expect from Selfbuild Live Belfast this February; get your free tickets on live.selfbuild.ie

How much will your windows and doors cost? – Find out what the cost components are when shopping for what’s likely to be your most significant outlay of your build.

Modern Methods of Construction – From eco-building materials to nanoparticles, the future is exciting for house building.

Thinking outside the blocks – Why you should consider a modern method of construction for your self-build.

Bathroom design – Tips and advice on how to furnish the most visited rooms in the house, on a budget.

Top tips for renovating a cottage – Lessons from a DIY, low budget Co Clare renovation project.

Grandest – House Lessans in Co Down won Grand Designs House of the Year 2019; we catch up with homeowners Sylvia and Michael to learn the secret to their success.

Towards a zero waste garden – The garden can be a surprisingly wasteful place, between plastic container pots, store-bought compost and chemical sprays. Find out how to shake the bad habits.

Information overload – Wading through the decades is the trusty House Builder’s Bible, now in its 13th edition.

The early bird gets the worm – The case for hiring your garden designer at the same time as your architectural designer.

Garden passion – Lessons from a garden project in Co Down with poor soil conditions.

Ask the expert – Advice for a self-build in NI and some of the questions we received through Instagram in the past couple of months.

Scrapbook – Artificial lighting in the kitchen.

Cantilevered staircases – The aesthetics of a floating staircase is hard to beat, but it tends to be costly.

Balustrades – How to prevent falls, in style.

Plaster or dryline – Pros and cons of each method of finishing your internal walls.

Carpets – Types, installation methods and maintenance.