County Wexford holiday home

Self-build mortgages can be hard to get if you plan to build a holiday home but for Helen and Daniel Smyth the lure of the sea proved too strong to resist.

In this article, we cover:

  • How to go about building the dream holiday home, starting with finding a site
  • Decision to renovate or knock down to build new
  • Finding an architect and design process
  • Tender process, how they chose their builder and troubleshooting on site
  • Planning permission issues including hitch with percolation test
  • Different versions of the minimalist design layout
  • Types of tiles and paint to cater to mud loving dogs and children
  • Learning from mistakes in previous homes
  • Futureproofing and accessibility for older age
  • Unforeseen cost overruns and why hiring an architect saved them money
  • Details of key design features: sunroom and double height ceilings
  • Willow bed design with costs
  • Reinforced concrete raft foundation design with costs
  • Choice of cavity wall construction with EPS beads
  • Details of choice of PV system including cost
  • Choice of uPVC windows, gas boiler, stove and underfloor heating plus how they perform
  • Full floor plans


Site Cost: €105,000 – Build Cost: €425,000
Floor Area: 2,600 sqft – Plot Size: 5 acres
U-values to Part L 2011 standards; cavity walls 150mm filled with EPS beads, PIR insulation for pitched and flat roofs, floor insulation 110mm + 30mm PIR, 30mm perimeter insulation.


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

Galway Community Re-build

Low cost energy efficient rectangular design