The rising walls were built within a week and then radon barrier is put on. This one of the jobs that the self builder can do himself. It is best done with two people and on a day with low wind. Although it is a relatively simple job it requires time and patience. It is a high gauge plastic sheet (red in colour)and sealed with double sided butyl tape at all the joints. Special top hats are required for pipework coming thru floor. We put down radon barrier for 2 reasons, one being the prevention of ingress of moisture from the ground below and two, the prevention of radon gas omitted from the ground emanating into the built dwelling. Radon gas is more prevalent in certain areas than others but even so, it is a legal requirement to install it regardless. If you live in an old house and want to check if there is radon present you can get a test done for approx. €50 from the Radiological Institute. The presence of high levels of radon gas in a home can be a contributing factor to cancer.
We opened the site June 2013, with excavation works starting on entrance and road up to site as per my landscape design layouts. The topsoil was stripped back and 4 inch stone was laid for the new road to enable site access.
The next step was to dig out footings which were extra wide due to the timber frame construction.
The following day the first concrete was poured with all hands on deck. If anybody is reading this and has never been on a site when concrete arrives to a site it is a sight to behold. Concrete lorry arrives, somebody shouts CONCRETE HERE. All hell breaks loose, grown men who probably hadn’t ran since they last time they saw a concrete lorry arriving on site run for shovels, rakes, timber screeds etc. (and put on the wellies). Concrete has to be worked while it is fresh and so if it is not done in time and correct it can be a terrible task to remedy. This is even more important in a timber frame construction whereby the levels have to be 100% accurate because the frame of the house is made off-site, arrives by crane and is landed in place to the exact dimensions.
At an early stage it was decided to go the self-build route. The client had family members who were involved in the building industry, and a local engineer was engaged to project-manage the building. It was very important for us to achieve an “A” rated home so we looked at all the options available to us to achieve this. One of the most important elements of achieving this is the level of airtightness that has to be adhered too. After careful consideration it was agreed we would go down the route of timber-frame construction. We sent the drawings to tender, and after careful appraisal we appointed Kingspan House.
The main cornerstone of design is 1. the budget 2. site constraints 3. planning law 4. aesthetics. It is with this in mind that we finalised and submitted for planning application. In order to submit the application I also needed to engage an Engineer to do soil test for percolation area for septic tank, and to take site levels so as when I was drawing cross section of site we could see how well the dwelling would nestle into the surrounding undulations.
I my experience the most common criteria to look out for when choosing a site are 1. Is it in a historical / archaeological area 2. Are the sightlines to the road achievable to the NRA guidelines, (if not will I be able to take back a ditch / fence to achieve these, sometimes this may be bounding neighbours land in which case we will need a letter of consent from the owner). 3. Will the soil be good enough to pass EPA test for septic tank or treatment unit. 4. Is the land zoned for something different, 5. Is there A LOCAL NEEDS CLAUSE ATTACHED TO THE AREA.
There was positive feedback from the planner on all aspects of our proposal, it is with experience over the years that I have learnt to try and omit contentious aspects of design. There are some very good publications to which I refer for rural designs; one of the more popular ones is the ”Cork Rural Design Guide”. I also am a very keen fan of the publication ”Selfbuild & Improve”, this is a quarterly magazine that is published here in Ireland by the Corry Family, it is full of useful information on building a home or extension here in Ireland. They run the Selfbuild Shows throughout Ireland with very informative talks on building, with leading industry professionals giving advice, along with trade show stands offering their wares.