Self-builders boost the construction industry

“There has never been a better time to self-build,” says Clive Corry of Selfbuild Ireland Ltd, organiser of Selfbuild shows across the country.

“Self-builders in Ireland are a breed apart. They want a house which suits them in a place that suits them, and their mortgage requirements are not high. The average self-build loan to value ratio is only 60 per cent. Building for themselves and not for profit, they are also finding that skilled labour is now more widely available, and cheaper. It’s the same with building materials, so they will start work on their site and run it at a pace which they can afford. The cost of borrowing is also at its lowest level for years.”

So there are some reasons for optimism in these recession hit times. In the last year self-build was responsible for up to 50 per cent of all the residential housing completions in the country – in the west of Ireland this figure rises to between 70 and 80 per cent. Being generally older than first time buyers, building for themselves and with fewer funding problems, self-builders often choose to build sustainably and are far more likely to put in solar or geothermal heating or consider wind turbines and photovoltaic panels.

They will also go to great lengths to minimise waste, and use sustainable building products. These contributory factors all help to save the environment and ultimately the planet. In Ireland, buildings account for nearly half of all energy consumed, despite our relatively mild winters. We spend more on it than most of our EU partners.

When you build a new house you have the perfect opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint, and one of the most effective ways is to use energy efficient lighting and ‘A’ rated appliances. Natural daylight is free, and unlike energy, the more you use the better it is for the planet and you, as it reacts with chemicals in the skin to create vitamin D, and thus healthy bones, as well as helping to combat SAD (seasonal affective disorder ).

You can also design in energy saving with a well insulated fabric combined with a heat recovery ventilation system. By orientating living rooms to face south, southeast or southwest, you will capture any sun available for the places you need it most, and at no cost to you or damage to the planet.

Those who can’t move often want to improve, and there are plenty of ideas and products at the show for them to choose from.

The struggling property market, together with new building and energy ratings for houses, has fuelled a huge rise in home improvements, as home owners opt to make more of what they have rather than move. Home improvements can add real value to a property if the work is carefully considered, in keeping with the style, size, and proportion of the property, and, most importantly, finished to a high standard. The benefits of good home improvements are two-fold. They provide better living space and accommodation to immediately enhance the occupant’s lifestyle, while also making the property more attractive to potential buyers, if the home owner decides to sell later. Home improvements can range from adding an extension or converting a loft space and garage to remodelling a property’s internal room layout for more efficient living space.

Thousands of self-builders, extenders, and renovators as well as builders, architects, and tradesmen will visit the Selfbuild Extend & Renovate Show which will be held at the Galway Racecourse complex. It runs on May 15 and 16, 2010. Visitors can talk to the experts and see the vast range of products on display to help them build a dream home of their own. The Selfbuild show opens on Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 6pm.

One of four self-build shows run across the country in Ulster, Munster, Leinster, and Connacht, this exhibition at the Galway Racecourse, Ballybrit. is filled with more than 100 exhibitors, displaying every product needed to build, extend, or renovate a home. For free Sustainability Seminar details, more information and tickets online visit www.selfbuild.ie

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