The Minimalist Co Antrim Home

Even though Catherine and John Reilly’s design is a minimalist one, they managed to cram just about everything they ever wanted in a home.

In this article Catherine and John explain how they built their own home, including:

  • Finding the plot in a sought-after location
  • The design details including office and playroom details, plus full floor plans
  • A keen cook’s kitchen design with pantry
  • Getting plans costed by a quantity surveyor
  • Difference in cost between estimate and tenders from builders
  • Cost engineering to reduce to tender prices and keep the build within budget
  • Project management and delays on site
  • Issues with the chimney and external plaster and how they were dealt with
  • Choice of biomass boiler and what they needed to store the pellets
  • Why they went £15k over budget
  • Planting trees early on and garden design
  • Tips for a novice to manage a self-build project
  • Full specification and supplier list

House size: 3,000sqft
Plot size: 1 acre
Build cost: £330,000
EPC: B with SAP rating of 85. Architect’s note: It’s very hard with a spread-out floor plan to get higher than a B rating especially when highly glazed; you would need a much more compact and boxy layout generally to achieve this and you also need to wall the North elevation more than we did.
Environmental rating: 94 (A)


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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