Carlow new build with personality & flair

Gillian and Seamus Brennan injected personality into their Co Carlow new build thanks to a clever H-shaped design and repurposed furniture.

This article about Gillian and Seamus’ H-shaped new build in Co Carlow covers:

  • Details of the design process including the choice of an H shape to maximise light and sunshine
  • How the sloping site meant the house was built on three different levels
  • How to navigate tricky planning permission requirements for a Co Carlow new build in the countryside
  • What to do when you don’t really have a view: How the windows were designed to frame the greenery
  • How the house was redesigned when builders costed the project
  • How they hired a builder for most of the work on a fixed price contract, and saved money on key elements by hiring labour or going DIY (including assembling the staircase themselves)
  • How to manage mortgage stage payments and cash flow
  • Repurposing tips, plus how to nail Gillian’s personal mix of Victorian and cottage décor
  • How the heat pump, and underfloor heating with cement screed covering, are working out


Walls: Cavity walls 125mm PIR board full fill
Roof: 150mm PIR board between rafters with insulated (50mm PIR) plasterboard on ceiling
Floor: standard build up with 120mm PIR insulation
House size: 2,620 sqft
House value: €375,000 insurance was in place for the final drawdown


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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