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To build or to buy?

  • 22-03-2022 8:50pm
    Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ unknowngirl!!

    Hi All,

    Would greatly input any advice from more knowledagble people than me and my husband! In the midlands and have almost gone to sale agreed to buy a 5 bed house with large garden space, sheds and garden for €525k. It's not exactly what we need but thought we could add on at a later stage if needed. Then, talking to a neighbour from home, said they would sell site 1acre with planning as their children have all decided to not move home. Site would be €70k.

    Would we be mad to build? We would need a contracter as we haven't a clue. I'm just nervous as I hear people talking about the price of materials going up all of the time. I'm torn between having a house very soon or a house built to our needs in an ideal location close to my family (I have a chronically ill child so this is important.)

    We have decent savings and have AIP for the house. Any opinions?


  • Registered Users Posts: 984 ✭✭✭ Still stihl waters 3

    Build prices are 150 to 200 a square foot and you're probably looking at 2 years minimum until you start building between planning and all the rigmarole, a further 2 years until you're in the house, that's 4 years with everything falling into place perfectly, at a minimum

  • Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ unknowngirl!!

    Thanks for your reply. I did not realise this and this would definitely put us off. We thought approximately 2.5 years all going smoothly? For reference, my brother is building with his girlfriend and they are almost ready to move in and it has just been 18 months since they applied to the co. council. They are getting the kitchen fitted and then are moving in. I thought we'd have a similiar timeline!

  • Registered Users Posts: 984 ✭✭✭ Still stihl waters 3

    Is he in a trade himself? the way it's gone I'd be very surprised if you had the site bought and planning got within 18 months but it might be possible, expect an 18 month build minimum with a good efficient builder with dependable trades, you're buying a 5 bed house as it is I imagine you'll be looking to build something similar which is a big house and will take time, obviously these are just guidelines from what I'm seeing locally myself, 1 friend is going for planning and only got planning submitted last week after 6 months between looking for architects, meetings etc

  • Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ unknowngirl!!

    No, he isn't. He has a contracter for the build. I wonder does the permission delay depend on where you are located? The time factor really is making me swing towards buying. I thought we'd be well finished within 2.5 years. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,287 ✭✭✭ em_cat

    If you buy the site for €70k with planning and build to the planning as is you would have a faster timeline possibly similar your brother. However if for whatever reason you needed or wanted to build something different than you would have to factor in going back to planning, risking observations and/or appeal to ABP which can seriously delay & put it into the realm of 3-4 years. Plus given the 2019 RIAI costs guide for Domestic one off to be 2,500€ to 2,800€ per m2.

    Personally I’d go for the second hand house as it will be a faster and possibly better solution given the time, stress, delays of which there can be many despite whatever Dermot Bannon may have us believe! Yes contracts and hand over can take time, however nothing near the possible years of delay if you build.

    We where in the same position as you the year before covid, it worked out better and financially to build, but here we are now 3.5 years later and we are still in a battle with the council, couple that with the soaring materials costs we’ve no idea when we will get going, to clarify we may also be looking at judicial review too if ABP refuses us this time round. It’s put me in some very dark moods at times but it sounds as if you may not be in a position to weather this type of scenario.

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  • Moderators, Regional North West Moderators Posts: 43,874 Mod ✭✭✭✭ muffler

    You paint a worse case scenario with the time frames. The majority of new builds will commence anything from 2 months to 12 months after planning has been granted. Average build time will be 8 - 12 months.

    To answer the OP ... there are so many variables not least the time involved. You could potentially be in the house you would buy within a couple of months but it could take a lot longer. Is the house to your liking or would you rather have your own design with a new build? What about the locations? Are there big advantages in either scenario i.e. work / travel, schools, shops, etc

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,429 ✭✭✭ Furze99

    One acre site with planning is a good opportunity, particularly if where you want to live and by the grace of a good neighbour. There's a lot of value in that. Is this planning permission still valid and check the design drawings and so on. If you can find a way to make it work, I'd build in those circumstances though usually I don't care for imposing new houses on the countryside when there's existing stock.

  • Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ unknowngirl!!

    Thanks for all the input.

    The 5 bed we are looking at is very dated on the inside but the house and setting is beautiful, very spacious but not an ideal or functional use of space. We would definitely need to adapt and extend in the future. If we were to build we would be able to have a suitable use of space for our child who has a chronic illness.

    Building is my preference as the site is located 5 mins from my family which is important when you need extra support and in our case that is often. The house we were going for is only 15 mins by car so it isn't too far but I'd still like the closeness of building near home.

    My only fear is the talk of crazy price increases, how it is difficult for all materials to be sourced and how things are unstable at the moment. I have a sick child to consider so I feel I need to make a safe choice. We are lucky enough to have a three bed house which we can afford to keep so the duration of the build isn't a major factor provided the cost overall wasn't astronomical. On the balance of things I reckon it would work out cheaper to build as we'd need to redo all the decor in the existing house plus the future cost of adapting etc. but as I'm not an expert and have no one to ask for advice, I'm worried I'm taking a risk.

  • Registered Users Posts: 534 ✭✭✭ Cal4567

    Why a 5 bed may I ask, are there 8 or 9 of you?

    Don't mean to be funny, it's just that I've come across friends and acquaintances who bought rural mcmansion type houses, and now with children all gone, they feel they are alone in very large houses.

  • Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ unknowngirl!!

    There are 5 of us, my son is chronically ill and needs a separate treatment room with a wetroom for his medical equipment and we also plan on having a live in au-pair as he needs specific care so traditional school care / after school isn't an option.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 719 ✭✭✭ keno-daytrader

    Im a bit confused, is there planning on the site all ready or is it being sold subject to planning?

  • Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ unknowngirl!!

    They were previously granted planning for a 5 bed house on the site. We will be buying it subject to planning most likely as their drawings aren't the same as what we would like. It would be a similiar house but with adaptations for our needs.

  • Registered Users Posts: 719 ✭✭✭ keno-daytrader

    Is that planning still valid on the site, as you could make major changes to the inside layout of the house without having to worry about reapplying for planning.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,920 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    Are both sites similar in terms of connectivity to local services, schools, shops and more?

  • Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ unknowngirl!!

    I don't know if it is still valid. They were granded four years ago, will look into it.

    Site is probably a better location but both are good to be fair. Site trumps it with the family close by...

    Considering no one has said that building would be a crazy risk, I'm leaning towards that. We aren't doing it to save a fortune so if we can get a home we want in a location we want for the same price as buying, it seems worth it!

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,271 ✭✭✭ Yellow_Fern

    High chance a closer cheaper more stress free existing home could become available before a self build is ready.

  • Registered Users Posts: 751 ✭✭✭ C. Eastwood


    How old is the house ready for purchasing for €525,000. - it may need a lot of work

    Phone and ask your solicitor - how much Stamp Duty that you will have to pay on that house. I think that it is small, but it is still another few thousand euro.

    Permission Permission is valid for 5 years.

    having read your comments above, and the fact that you have an existing house to live in for a few years, I would go for purchasing the site and building a new house that will suit your requirements and your ill sons requirement.

    I think that you may regret not building a new house to your design. A gut feeling is what is needed here by you - not too much analysis.

    if there is a valid planning on the site, the vendor may not sell subject to satisfactory planning.

    However, if the site is for sale for a number of years it is usually down to the location, where only a few locals would be interested in purchasing.

    I certainly would not build a house that someone else designed.

    Take your time. Design your dream house

    Visit the local Planning Dept and ask to look at the file for the site, ask the people there for some advice, they are usually very helpful.

    Get the local planners email address and email the planner with your intentions, of purchasing the site and applying for planning for a different house on the site. Ask the Planner - could you make an application for change of design of the existing Drawings. Failing that make an application for a new house on the site.

    When designing your new house remember that Sunshine is more important than a view.

    Remember if you purchase this site near your family, and build a new home, you will probably live there for the next 30 to 40 years. 2 years is not a long time to wait for this dream home.

    Build a house that you can afford, a dormer bungalow with dormer windows will give you a large Attic space that you can develop in a few years time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 946 ✭✭✭ iColdFusion

    If your 2nd hand house is decent value for money id go for that, building your own house is typically the most stressful thing you'll ever do even for people familiar to construction and with friends in the trades even at the best of times, do you really have the time to dedicate to it? Its hard enough for couples working full time with no kids.

    Materials and labour are through the roof at the moment and only getting worse, its a total gamble if they will be any better by the time you would go to build and if HTB will still be available, Shinners want to get rid of it.

    TBH unless you are getting the site for free or have the cash in the bank a self build of that size doesn't make much sense anymore, if you get the site for free you can use some of its value towards the build so that's like a 50k headstart and 30k from HTB you are winning even for the unexpected but handing over €70k with nothing to show for it has you on the back foot already.

    There are more strict criteria for a self build mortgage too, typically you will have have your deposit and another 10% of the build cost in extra savings as a contingency plus ye will likely have to give up to date payslips as the bank release funds for the build stages, foundations, roof level, etc if anything happens and one of ye are out of work during the build the bank will stop payments.

    I don't want to be a party pooper but you really need to go into the process with your eyes open, every element of that new house will be you to you to decide and there are far more things than people think, just go google and try to pick out now what doors or kitchen you would like!

  • Registered Users Posts: 751 ✭✭✭ C. Eastwood


    Further to my previous advice above.

    I would not advise anyone to payout €525,000 +++ for a house that they have not designed, when they have an opportunity (and apparently a wist) to purchase a preferred Site in a preferred location, and Design and construct their own bespoke home

    2 years is a short time.

    To avoid stress you should Retain and get advice from a Chartered Building Surveyor or Registered Building Surveyor or a Chartered Building Engineer.

    They will give you advice, design your home, apply for Planning, complete a Specification of Works and appoint a Builder, put a contract in place between you and the Contractor and look after the building during construction and Certify the building on completion.

    Also they will have knowledge of a number of good Building Contractors, and a Construction Professional will only work with reputable Builders.

    You will have very little hassle with a good Construction Professional, who will design the home to suit your budget.

    This will also allow you to design a perfect room with sunshine and an adjoining purpose designed bathroom for your son, etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 689 ✭✭✭ JimmyMW

    OP the first thing you will need to do is see if your a suitable applicant for the planning permission, if you already have a house in the general area and the site has a local needs clause attached, depending on the county council you may not be eligible at all, however given your particular family circumstances you might. Get a local planning agent involved and they will tell you if you have a chance of planning or not. This is the first step as the options you think you have may not be options at all.

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