Building the tin house

Matthew and Hannah Sterrett of @ourweecountryhome got onto the property ladder by putting their rent money towards buying their first house. When it became too small for them, they decided to invest in a self-build on family land.


Part 1 – Avoiding the rent trap – Skip to Part 1

Part 2 – The tin roof – Skip to Part 2

Part 3 – Site clearing, foundations, blocks going up – Skip to Part 3

Part 4 – Water and electricity – Skip to Part 4

Part 1 – Avoiding the rent trap

As published in the Spring 2022 edition of Selfbuild magazine.

After graduating from university, Hannah and I made the decision that it was time to get on the property ladder. We were determined not to fall into the rent trap so, for a short period of time, we moved in with my parents in the centre of Belfast to save up for a deposit.

Seven years ago, we had enough to get a mortgage to buy our first home. After a few years in the house, we decided it was time to expand and started considering other areas on the outskirts of the city we could move to.

We looked at a range of options, but really struggled to find something that ticked all the boxes.

We considered a few new build developments within Belfast but couldn’t warm to any of them as they seemed somewhat repetitive. It just felt like we were trying to get a square peg into a round hole.

Hannah’s sisters had completed self-builds in the past, so after a while of not finding anything suitable to buy, we began to see the appeal of building a bespoke home.


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

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