Sunday, June 01, 2014

New Regulations for Building a House in Ireland 2014

New regulations affecting self builders (and other builders) cam into effect in Ireland on 1st March 2014

These new regulations (S.I. 9 of 2014) relate to the commencement and certification of construction works. For certain building works, the new regulations require that certificates of compliance and other documents must be submitted with the Commencement Notice.

The additional requirements also include:
• the nomination of a competent ‘Assigned Certifier’ to inspect and certify the works,
• the assignment of a competent builder to carry out the works,
• the submission of certificates of compliance on completion.

 The additional requirements only apply to the following works:
• Construction of a dwelling
• Extension of a dwelling by more than 40 square metres.
• Works which require a Fire Safety Certificate.
 What additional documents must I submit with my Commencement Notice?
Any Commencement Notice submitted after the 1st March 2014, which come within the scope of S.I. 9 of 2014 must fill out an online assessment of the proposed approach to compliance with the Building Regulations and be accompanied by the following:

• Certificate of Compliance (Design),
• Notice of Assignment of Person to Inspect and Certify Works (Assigned Certifier),
• Undertaking by Assigned Certifier,
• Notice of Assignment of Builder,
• Undertaking by builder
• General arrangement drawings for building control purposes – plans, sections and elevations;
• A schedule of design documents currently prepared or to be prepared at a later date,
• The preliminary inspection plan,
• Any other documents deemed appropriate by the Assigned Certifier.

Failure to submit a Commencement Notice when required is an offence. If you commence works or a change of use in the absence of a Commencement Notice, there is no provision to retrospectively submit a Commencement Notice.
For works subject to S.I. 9 of 2014, you will be unable to submit a Certificate of Compliance on Completion, and your building will not be recorded on the public register. This may affect your ability to lease or sell the building.

. Who can act as an Assigned Certifier?
An Assigned Certifier must be:
• an Architect named on a register maintained pursuant to Part 3 of the Building Control Act 2007, or
• a Surveyor named on a register maintained pursuant to Part 5 of the Building Control Act 2007, or
• an Engineer named on a register maintained pursuant to Section 7 of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969

 Can someone still build their own house themselves  or by direct labour?
Yes. You may appoint yourself as the builder if you believe you are competent to carry out that role and sign the Certificate of compliance (Undertaking by Builder).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Property Tax Exemption and Self Builds

Self Build Houses and Property Tax Exemptions in Ireland

Read all about Property Tax Here

The regulations on Property Tax and the FAQ provided by Revenue don't seem to correspond - but here is what we have found.

The FAQ on the Revenue website (as at Feb 18th 2013) states the following

"If the self build  property has been completed before 1 May 2013, the property will be subject to LPT, unless the person who self-builds the property is eligible for first time buyer exemption and occupies the property as his or her sole or main residence."

"Any residential property built by its owner after 1 May 2013 and before 1 November 2016, will not be liable for LPT until 2017."

The actual legislation mentions unoccupied new homes :

Section 6
A residential property shall not, for the purposes of this Act, be regarded as a relevant residential property where the property—

(a) has been completed but not sold by the person who has constructed the property, or who has had the property constructed,
(b) is not occupied as a dwelling,
(c) has produced no income that would be chargeable to income tax or corporation tax, as the case may be, under Case I, Case IV or Case V, as the case may be, of Sched- ule D (within the meaning of section 18 of the Act of 1997), and
(d) is trading stock (within the meaning of section 89 of the Act of 1997) of the person referred to in paragraph (a).

Later in the legislation - it refers to these properties that are exempt under Section 6 and say that if one of these properties is sold between Jan 2013 and Oct  2016 it will not be classed as a liable property until after Oct 2016

Here is that section

9.—Notwithstanding that a residential property of the type
referred to in section 6 is sold at any time in the period beginning on
1 January 2013 and ending on 31 October 2016, the property shall
not be a relevant residential property in respect of any liability date
occurring in the period following the first sale of the property and ending on 31 October 2016.

So - for a self build property - although there is no actual sale of the property it could be argued that self builds should be treated in the same way as anyone buying a new house from a builder.

There is another section on first time buyers - which could also be ssen as relevant to Self Builds. It removes liability until 2016 for any house bought between Jan 2013 and Dec 2013 where the buyer would have been eligible for Mortgage Interest Relief (if it was still available)

"8.—(1) Subject to subsection (3), a residential property shall not,
for the purposes of this Act, be regarded as a relevant residential
property in respect of the liability dates in the years 2013, 2014 and
2015 where—
(a) the property is purchased in the period beginning on 1
January 2013 and ending on 31 December 2013,
5 (b) subject to subsection (2), the property is purchased by a
person who would have been entitled to relief under
section 244 of the Act of 1997 had a qualifying loan
(within the meaning of that section) been taken out in
the period beginning on 1 January 2004 and ending on 31
10 December 2012, and
(c) after the property is purchased, it is occupied as the sole
or main residence of the person referred to in paragraph
(b) (or, in the case of the persons referred to in subsection
(2)(a), (b) or (c), the married couple, civil partners or
15 cohabitants, as the case may be)."

Personally - I would be happy to go with the quote from the FAQ on the Revenue website

Any residential property built by its owner after 1 May 2013 and before 1 November 2016, will not be liable for LPT until 2017."

In tis statement - I assume by "built"  they mean completed  .

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Structural Insulated Panels - Self Build

The construction industry has used Structural Insulated Panels  (SIPs) for years, but it's now filtering into the self-build market too

Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), are constructed offsite and lead to a reduction in the amount of time on site.

They speed up the construction process and provide good  strength and high levels of insulation.

SIPs are prefabricated panels of OSB (oriented strand board) that form a sandwich with a filling of insulation. Window shapes can be cut out to order off-site and the panels can be used for floor and roof  too

Once erected, work can begin straightaway on internal fitting out even before the exterior is complete.  Another benefit is the creation of additional warm living space in the roof by eliminating conventional trusses.

SIPs  are manufactured by injecting CFC free Polyurethane foam (PUR) in between two skins of Oriented Strand Board (OSB3) in a hydraulic press. The resultant panel is lightweight but incredibly strong.

Structural Insulated Panels can form the structural shell of a building, which can then be finished with conventional materials, or they can be used as an insulated envelope over an Oak Frame structure, or indeed as infill panels to steel or timber structures.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Kitchen Planning - Top Tips

Don't Design a kitchen just for cooking

A kitchen is more than a cooking space; it is the hub of the home. Emphasise the social aspect of the kitchen room by building a kitchen island, or a breakfast bar. This will make your kitchen a sociable place to be.

 Don't Ignoring practical logistics

Cabinets, fridges, dressers and cupboards all need space for doors to open. Badly-planned kitchens mean you have to close two doors before you can open another. Plan for these practical considerations and make sure there is easy access to all your cupboards and appliances.

Keep enough space between units and tables.
There should be a good metre between kitchen units and kitchen furniture. Likewise, leave space between your kitchen island and counter. Oval or circular tables save space, as does a fold-down table from the wall.

Use the  “work triangle”
It is easy to overlook practicality when planning your kitchen decor. The kitchen should provide easy access to three essential kitchen appliances - the refrigerator, the oven and the sink.

Work with the shape of your kitchen

Don’t ignore the shape of the kitchen room. For smaller kitchens, use a single-line or two-way galley layout. An L-shape will leave one corner of your kitchen free for dining, while kitchen islands suit those with ample space.

Lighting - don't leave it till last
Kitchen lighting is often left until last, resulting in lights either too bright to be relaxing, or too soft for cooking. You should consider more than one type of kitchen lighting, such as overhead, illuminated shelves or under cabinet lights.

:Plug sockets  - get plenty

When planning your dream kitchen, cater for the amount of kitchen appliances it will house. Televisions, blenders and chargers all need access to electricity. Avoid unsightly cables and consider hidden floor sockets for televisions and kitchen islands.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Estimated House Build Costings

Estimated  costing of a Self Build House

This is a list of the various items that will need to be costed for both materials and labour to give you an estimate of the final cost of building your house.

If you are getting a mortgage your lender will want details of the costings for all the items listed below .

Demolition of existing dwelling (if applicable)
Site clearance and Preparation
Timberframe (if applicable)*
External Walls
Internal Walls
External Doors
Internal Doors
Roof Structure
Plasterwork and Finishes
Internal joinery
Flooring and Finishes
1st Fix
2nd Fix
1st Fix
2nd Fix
Kitchen & Utility units
Bathroom, sanitary ware & fittings
Fitted wardrobes
Fixtures & Fittings
Waste and Drainage
Landscaping & Driveway
Tarmac & Kerbing

10% Contingency
Architect/Solicitor/Professional Fees (incl. VAT)  
Connection Fees (Water and ESB)
Other Fees

You are advised to get a qualified professional to work out the costings for you

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

House Rebuilding Costs Up for 2012

According to the latest figures from  the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland  - out the cost of rebuilding a home in Ireland  has increased by 1.5 per cenin the past year
Rebuild costs may be more than a new build because of extra work in site slearance etc.
The house rebuild guide shows big price variations. For example, the rebuild cost of a Dublin three-bedroom semi increased by 0.52 per cent, while, for the same type of house in Waterford, the increase was almost 2 per cent. The cost rise is apparently down to a tightening of building regulations.

But, even taking this year’s rise into account, overall rebuilding costs are down 24 per cent from 2008.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tips on Building a Conservatory

Conservatories or sunrooms are often built either as extensions to existing houses or as part of new build homes. Often they are built on the wrong side of the house where there is least sun and/or are overshadowed by other buildings or existing trees. When this happens the conservatory is often in shade and is a less attractive room as a result. This is an expensive mistake and one that is easily avoided. Ideally conservatories and sunrooms should be positioned on the south (or as a second choice on the west) side of the house. If they are on the west side they will have one side facing north and it is best if this wall is a highly insulated solid wall rather than glass to avoid heat loss on this side.

Another approach to the conservatory add-on to a house is to create one or more sun filled rooms that are part of the house itself and not an add-on. This is often more cost effective than building a separate room since many conservatories (sunny or not) are often little used perhaps because they don’t get much sun (and aren’t
very appealing) or because they’re remote from other commonly used rooms such as kitchen/dining and family room.
A skilled designer with a good working knowledge of the annual sun path can cleverly ensure that the external walls and windows of the most frequently used rooms are positioned and sized to take advantage of the maximum amount of sun (when it exists) for as much of the year as possible. This means that it becomes unnecessary to build a separate sunroom or conservatory.

Checklist for Sustainable Self Build

Sustainable development is about using the earth’s finite resources – agricultural land, air, water, fuel and mineral reserves – wisely and without waste so that the developments we create today meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of our children and grandchildren to meet their own needs. As well as minimising our consumption of physical finite resources sustainable development does not detract from the beauty of the natural landscape.

Some things to consider when designing your rural self build.

Keep  the size of your house as small and compact as possible

Eliminate  little used rooms as much as possible.

Minimise the number of bathrooms and en suites.

Orientate the rooms and windows within the house to maximise the benefits of free heat from the sun directly into the most used rooms? (passive solar heating )

Consider the use of active systems for capturing renewable energy - these include geothermal ground source heat pumps, biomass heating systems (eg wood chip and wood pellet fuelled boilers), evacuated tube solar collectors , wind turbines.

Maximise insulation.

Minimise the energy lost in manufacturing processes and transportation by using natural materials sourced locally or within Ireland as much as possible.

Install water saving technology where possible eg dual flush toilets.

Save rain water  for secondary use eg watering the garden

Develop the site so that it protects the best natural features and supports a wide range
of wildlife and bio-diversity
Ensure that your house blends into the landscape and enhances it as much as possible

Choosing a Good Site for a House

Tips for Self Build - Things to consider when selecting a site:

The size of the site- is it big enough for the house you need? Remember that large
houses need very large sites (can the site accommodate a septic tank?)

Slopes :  Sloping  sites can offer potential for changes in floor level and a variety of internal spaces but excessively steep gradients can cause large problems in terms of access and achieving a house that blends in.

Beware of potential overlooking issues with neighbours.Consider the impact your house may have on your neighbours and the local landscape setting.

Sun -  where does the sun rise and set? Ideally the best views should be to the south (though south west or west are also acceptable) Avoid sites where the south side has a poor outlook and is in shadow(for instance due to shadow caused by mature trees), or where the best views are to the north.

When buying a site with outline planning permission ensure there are no restrictive planning conditions that may limit its potential .

How well drained is the site?

How do you get access onto the site?

Can the necessary visibility splays be provided within the boundary of the site, without excessive, undue removal of roadside hedges and trees?

Is your site within an area designated for nature conservation, archaeological or built heritage?

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Low Energy LED GU10 Downlights

When the house was built we had some halogen downlights fitted  in the kitchen and a couple in the dormer bedrooms - 11 in total. Five of the 50w halogen bulbs have gone since we moved in.

I found you can get much bigger energy and cost savings with LED  Gu10 replacements - some run on only 3w or 4w - that's a 90% saving! LED bulbs are getting better and brighter all the time . They are a good bit more expensive than the standard halogen 50 Watt bulbs - but you soon get that back in electricity savings.
After a bit more research and reading reviews I  bought ten of these 4watt LED Gu10 bulbs .  I have replaced all the halogen lamps in the kitchen with these. Those Gu10 fittings can be a pain to get in - so hopefully they won't need changing again for a few years.
The light from the LED bulbs is whiter than the old halogen bulbs and  I am very pleased with them.

Instead of using 500 watts with all 10 switched on - I'll now only be using 40 watts.
I've worked out - that if they are switched on for 6 hours a day - they will use just €13 in electricity in a year- but the old halogen ones would cost €180 a year to run.  I will save €167  a year in electricity. The bulbs will pay for themselves in less than 6 months - and after that it's just savings of  €167 a year.

Someone with 30 of these in a house could reduce electricity bills by a serious amounts .
You can get some LED Gu10 bulbs for around £9.99 at  Amazon with delivery to Ireland.

If they last as long as promised I won't need to change them for at least 15 years! They don't generate any heat either - so much less of a fire risk than the halogen equivalents.

More useful sites here for Online Shopping in Ireland

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cost of Building a House in Ireland

At the height of the property price boom in Ireland there were plenty of people getting sites and building their own  houses.  It normally worked worked out cheaper per square meter than buying a house. On top of that - you could specify exactly how the house would look (subject to planning permission)
With the drop in house prices since 2007 - the savings to be made by going down the self build route are no longer as attractive.
Building costs have fallen in the last couple of years - but they have not fallen by nearly as much as house prices. Building materials have risen in price - labour costs have generally fallen.
In 2011 -in  many parts of Ireland if you can find a good second hand  house in a suitable location it may well work out cheaper than building a new one. (Less hassle too)
You might have to compromise on some of the features .

According to figures from the Society of Chartered Surveyors the rebuilding cost of a 4 Bedroomed Bungalow in the Galway area is €1277 per sq metre .
The figures assume a basic quality specification with normal foundations, brick/block walls, concrete tiled roof, concrete ground floor and timber first floor, softwood flush doors and hardwood double glazed windows, painted plaster to walls, plastered ceilings,standard electrics and central heating.

This cost needs to be increased for extras such as a garage  (Garage building costs range from €14,296 for a single attached garage to €25,701 for a double attached garage)
Also - add on extra for things such as  fitted wardrobes,  higher than average kitchen fittings,  fire alarms and security alarms, and for any outbuildings, walls, fences, patios, etc.
The price of the site also neeeds to be added on to this figure. Land prices have fallen - so you can get a site in a rural area for €25k. Quality sites on the edge of towns or in tourist areas will cost more.

So - for a  200 Metre sq detached 4 bedroomed bungalow with a garage in the Co Galway area  - the figure for rebuilding would be about €275,000 - and that is without any garden walls or fencing or patios.
Add on the cost of a site - with a minimum of €25000 - you are looking at around €300,000 to build the house.(According to SCS). Even if you are being given the site - the cost is going to be in the region of €275,000.

There are plenty of 4 and 5 bedroomed bungalows built in the past 5 years that are selling for less than €275000. ...    So if you are prepared to settle for something that might be 80% of exactly what you want - you could save money by buying instead of building. (Not to mention the lower hassle and headaches)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Generating Electricity From Solar Panels

Photovoltaic’ means electricity from light. In essence, photovoltaic systems use daylight (not necessarily direct sunlight) to convert solar radiation into electricity. The light which shines on the PV cells creates an electric field causing electricity to flow. The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity.
Photovoltaic systems use semiconductor materials to convert solar energy into electricity. This technology is widely used in consumer products such as solar calculators, watches or garden lights, and is increasingly used as a cost-effective solution in Ireland for stand-alone applications where a grid connection is too expensive (e.g. parking meters, caravans or remote holiday homes).
Solar PV can also be used to provide free solar electricity to houses as well as for commercial and industrial applications. Recent developments in regulation mean that it is now possible to connect solar PV systems to the grid, opening up a new era for solar PV in Ireland.

Photovoltaic domestic systems range in size from 1Kw – 11 Kw.
Each Kw can produce approximately 1,000 units (1 unit = 1Kwh) of electricity per annum. The average Irish household uses 3,000 – 4,000 units per annum

ESB will offer to pay  of 19c per unit for the first 3000 units sold back to the grid that the user did not consume. This is worth €570.

Further excess units are rewarded with the  ESB Customer Service 9c there after.

Units that are produced by the user and used by the user are a saving of 17c each as of May 2009 for normal rate electricity.

ESB Networks are offering their 10c for the first 3000 units produced per annum to the first 4000 customers to send in their RECI certificate of completion for the micro generation installation.
Since 2005, PV electricity prices have dropped by 40pc and the cost of PV systems are expected fall by a further 40pc by 2015. According to the EPIA, if this is the case, PV systems will be able to compete with electricity prices for households in many countries of the EU within the next five years.