A functional and modern home in Co Down

modern home in Co Down

For the Russells, creating a functional, modern home was all about delivering space, style and tech on a budget.

In this article we cover:

  • Finding an architectural designer
  • How to join a Georgian design with modern back
  • Efficient floor plan to reduce build costs
  • Forward thinking with electrics and plumbing
  • Planning application process
  • Choosing a builder and setting up a contract
  • How the day to day went: who the builder hired and who the self-builders hired directly
  • How much DIY they did and lessons learned
  • Playroom design with swinging elements
  • Heating system choice
  • Kitchen design
  • DIY smart home design
  • Landscaping details and how they saved on those costs
  • Other budget saving tips throughout the build
  • Window design and installation
  • Internal design choices from lighting to flooring
  • Specification, floor plans and supplier list


House size: 325sqm
Plot size: 1 acre
Bedrooms: 3
Heating and hot water: 
oil boiler 
Ventilation: centralised mechanical with heat recovery 
Build method: blockwork (cavity wall)
EPC (SAP): B (81)


Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. She previously held the same role in an Irish trade publication, before that she worked at the National Standards Authority of Ireland. She graduated with a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University in New York and holds an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles in Madrid. France of origin, she now lives in Portarlington, County Laois, where she's taken on the task of renovating a listed building! Email astrid.madsen@selfbuild.ie

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