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Standing on the Edge...




So I'm currently contemplating whether to pursue my 3 year old dream to build a home or skip it and plough the money into the second hand home I just bought. To explain, the house has the site attached to it, which I now own, so at least land isn't the issue. There's going to be other moments I'm sure when I wonder if I've made the right choice but now would be a good time to call it a day. The scary thing is not knowing how much this is all going to cost. Prices for materials and labour are going up all the time and until I go out to tender I won't know the real cost of the build. 

It's going to take most of my remaining savings, around 12K to get through planning and go out to tender. THAT's the point I'll know the real price. All I have to go on currently is a year old Quantity Surveyors report and several great threads on this site. And for my amusement I've been doodling changes (attached) to the last Architect's design....and like me at Xmas, it's gotten bigger, not crazy big but 89 sq meters increased to 118 sq meters....it's changed from a 2 bed to a 3 bed and has started to really look interesting. 


I read a timely quote today: "What Future do I want to create?". 


My Choices:

Option A: Spend 12K and see if you get planning and can afford to raise the roof and get this house built. 

Option B: Plough the 12K into new windows and external insulation and work on reducing the mortgage, perhaps sell the site with planning but give up the dream.


So, what have I got to lose? I've done the math and figure I can get this done. I'm trying to reduce the mortage and term if at all possible as I'm on a 19 year mortgage currently, I'd prefer less. I'm willing to take on all I can but I'm limited in skills and experience. I'll certainly do painting, MHRV, Security (Alarm, CCTV), Computer Cabling and some of the home automation. I don't want to delay the move in date and completion if I can help it as I'm painfully aware after several DIY projects that they take time and are tiring on top of a full days' work. I greatly admire those to make that sacrifice. I just want to be realistic about where is makes sense for me to do something and when to leave it to the professionals. And finding a trusted builder hopefully....


The next stop date is after receiving the tenders back. So, is 12K a risk too far? I don't thing it's so much about the money as the heart. There's just me. What future do I want to create? Let's wait and see.......








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Can you not just get the build priced up first without going for planning. Then you will have a better idea of costs before you start down the planning route.


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Imagine someone coming along today and saying

Nope - You must be mad - no way can you do that!


How that would make you feel, if you can imagine, it is a good guideline as to whether to give up or not.  If it makes you feel relief that someone has taken the decision for you, then I would suggest calling it a day.


If like me, when someone said it to me for real, your internal response is 'Just you try and stop me' again you have your answer.


I have found there are a lot of associated costs that I hadn't taken into account, as well as increases in some I thought I had.  Currently, everyday I am questioning why the *&*^&*^ I thought I could do this but I know I would have always regretted it if I hadn't,  even though I am having to compromise on what I originally wanted.  

Not sure how old you are but I guess you have a good few years ahead of you.  How are you going to feel in 2030 if you are still living in your second hand house?



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If it is as tight as you say you should be stripping stuff out, not putting it in. Pretending that we must have WIBNIs (wouldn't it be nice if...) is the worst enemy of all of the enemies of the formerly cost conscious self-builder who is soon going to be broke.


There are lots of ways of making this possible and less onerous, but you are going to need self-discipline as the foundation. GO and enjoy window shopping in posh shops, and look at all the things that are only bought by people with too much money that you do not need to buy to enjoy your modest new house :D.


(Outburst over)


Will return tomorrow with some ideas. For a start you perhaps only need one bathroom not three, and a downstairs loo, for the first 5 years. Probably a 6k saving right there.


I will comment from an English perspective, but the principles will transfer to Dublin.




Edited by Ferdinand
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40 minutes ago, Ferdinand said:

If it is as tight as you say you should be stripping stuff out, not putting it in. Pretending that we must have WIBNIs (wouldn't it be nice if...) is the worst enemy of all of the enemies of the formerly cost conscious self-builder who is soon going to be broke.

The big benefit of the WIBNIs is it give you something to take out again when other things come in more expensive e.g. my inset balcony lol


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7 hours ago, Hecateh said:

The big benefit of the WIBNIs is it give you something to take out again when other things come in more expensive e.g. my inset balcony lol



Good counterpoint B|.

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Thanks all, time to take a hard look at the design and make some choices! I only bought the house as a means to an end as I'd been renting there for years. Looking at the site in 2030 and not having had a crack at building would be disappointing. 

I have some time to play with this but I have loose timelines in my head to protect me from dithering too long. 

Appreciate the feedback and look forward to sharing more updates in the months ahead! 


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Another option would be to go for planning with what you have already. Sell the pot on with planning permission which would give you the money to wither do up the one you are living in to a high standard.  Pay of the mortgage much earlier or sell and buy something more to your liking.  


I'm sure, I'll be glad I've done this in the long run but there are times I wished I had called it a day at getting permission and sold  the current bungalow with planning permission for the new build in the garden

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OK @mike2016. Promised some more constructive thoughts. I am assuming you can get a self-build mortgage and looking at ways to smooth the process.


1. You are in Dublin where the rental market, should you need to rent out, shows signs of being tight for some years .... as the Irish Govt have only just started to withdraw the suppressive measures they brought in in the late 1990s which undermined new investment.


2. I think you want to (perhaps informally) risk assess your Planning Permission prospects given the plot space, entrance, policy etc. If you can do pics like that you may be able to do it all yourself for perhaps 2-3k (Euros?) rather than 12k.


3. If you want a lower risk process with some willingness to take your time I would think about keeping the build as 2-phase - initial build to regulatory / acceptable to you and girlf/boyf "move in" standard, then add your extra kit and finishes later. That is something like:


a - Look at increasing current mortgage. That is probably the cheapest money you will get. 3-5 year fixed (with 2-3% cashback?) and flexibility to pay back after 3 years may be a good borrowing / risk reduction strategy. Probably the cheapest money you will get.

b - Do *minimum* refurbs to your current house to make you not-uncomfortable, and make it saleable / lettable (regulations, minimum market requirements). This is usually a lot less than we think. When the House Doctor dresses things for sale, it is usually only hundreds of £££, not thousands. Focus your spend (and your *time*) on where you are going, not where you are leaving which will benefit somebody else.

c - Do the build rapidly to what is acceptable to you (and no more).

d - Move in, and rent out or sell the existing. Either pay back mortgage or get permission to rent out (criteria when choosing lender in 4a?)


4. Remember that if you have moved in there is nothing stopping you taking 10 years to finish it. This is how people used to renovate houses - apply to gold plating your newbuild.


5. Based on the plan above, suspect you need to spend on fabric (Irish Building Regs), but there is plenty you can delay on, for example: 


- Delay at least two bathrooms. Put a door through the utility into the Master 1 Ensuite and make it family bathroom, leave Ensuite 2 as storage, leave downstairs as a loo.

- Use cheap 20 Euro doors and replace in 10 years.

- Get a secondhand kitchen of ebay for <!000 Euro. Replace in 5-10 years.

- Choose window spec carefully .. usually a big chunk of budget.

- Turn that posh viewing window over the living area into a framed hole with a balustrade until later.

- Simplify corner window?

- Turn that fence into a post + 2 rails.

- Forget the decking for now. If you must, get some concrete slabs for a patio and make paths with them later.

- Finish your downstairs floor as painted concrete plus rugs or roll vinyl.

- Similar upstairs.

- Front drive gravel + kerbstones.


And so on. So your 100% spend now might become 60-65% now then 35-40% over 5-10 years from income. Or the sale of the existing might let you blitz it.



Edited by Ferdinand
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Wow - Thanks!

Lots to consider. Getting good rental currently with the prospect of another room to let if I want. I'm currently doing up the house both to make it more attractive to a buyer and also to get me valuable experience later. I certainly need to rethink the spec but decide the size / shape now. That way as you've outlined I get the shell and can upgrade the spec later. 


I'm doubtful I could get enough to carry out the build without selling as I'm near my current mortgage limit as it is but as with all things the price of houses are going up so this may change matters in a year or two.


Appreciate the comments, advice and great ideas.


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Our reality check that stopped WIBNIs was going to a quantity surveyor. It cost us more that I'd like, and I wasn't happy with the job they did, but it helped translate all these decisions we were making into actual £££. With that, nearly all the luxuries went out the window and we've been very cautious on scope creep and new ideas unless they bring genuine benefit or we feel make sense as a long term investment.


EDIT: also a good one we use is SEP (Somebody Else's Problem). If we're putting it in to make it more marketable at the end of our stay (which hopefully will be a long long time) then it is most certainly not our problem today!

Edited by Visti
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