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Why are new builds all so ugly?

  • 08-05-2022 9:41am
    Registered Users Posts: 6,160 ✭✭✭

    Grey doors, grey walls, grey everything. Ghastly looking brutish shape

    Massive windows that look like a portal to some place beyond the event horizon of a black hole

    Uncosy telly-centric interior that looks like a scene from the Matrix or perhaps a waiting room for a space elevator.

    Very few trees or nature surrounding. A builder I was chatting to recently lobbed the blame squarely at planners, but to what extent are the builders to blame for this ugly uniform design? Every new build estate looks like this. Every decade since the 60's or 70's gets its own style of unimaginative design in this country.

    Is it feasible to build a house that doesn't look like all the new builds? For example is it still possible to build a stone cottage with a thatched roof if you insulated it enough?



  • Registered Users Posts: 221 ✭✭put_the_kettle_on

    There's a firm in the uk called Border Oak that do thatched cottages but they're ferociously expensive so I'm guessing that the contemporary builds are much cheaper to erect.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,405 ✭✭✭Allinall

    Beauty is in the eye of the key holder.

  • Registered Users Posts: 158 ✭✭SimpleDimple

    Add to that they don’t have feicing front gardens anymore so your window Into the sitting room is just the path. They’re all 3 stories high so the tiny back gardens have no natural light. Also the third story is a massive bedroom, but if you’ve kids you would want to be on the second floor for safety reasons, so the kids get the giant bedroom upstairs

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,736 ✭✭✭✭Sleeper12

    My pet hate on new buildings is the grey looking cladding sometimes used instead of better looking brickwork.

    No reflection on the people of Tyrrellstown but this is the worst designed estates in the county imo. I absolutely hate getting jobs here it's such a mess. Again I stress I'm talking about the buildings & not the people. All the people I've worked for here have been decent people

  • Registered Users Posts: 810 ✭✭✭raxy

    Front gardens are generally a waste in most houses. When do you ever see anyone using their front garden? Makes more sense to take it away & give a bigger back garden to a house but they probably just take it away to cram more houses in the same area.

    Most new houses I've noticed don't have the path at the sitting room window. They usually have a paved drive for cars with a small flower bed as the divide between houses. I have seen some that don't though, don't think I would ever buy a house like that though.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,076 ✭✭✭✭mickdw

    I quite like the current design of rural one off houses.

    That said, I do blame the planners and it is surely the definition of bad planning that build can be picked out by style down to a 5 or 6 year period.

    Rurally for example, there was a craze for concrete overbarged for a while, then some stone was compulsory almost, then any roadside wall had to be stone,

    Now it's small scale roofs, simple detailing and windows as big as you want them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 81 ✭✭dil87

    It's all subjective really.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,662 ✭✭✭Gusser09

    You dont see anyone benefit from having no front garden. The developer just uses it to maximise space. Also very few new estates have big greens these days. In my 80s built estate the big green does be filled with kids playing football. Great to see.

    I like having a front garden. I dont think id be overly comfortable having my front living room window 1 meter from the public path.

    I dont really think the houses are ugly these days though. In 10 or 15 years they might be. Especially the ones that are 3 stories. The 3 storie houses in a new estate are dreadfully laid out a lot of the time. Walk in the front door which is at the side, kitcen to the left, sitting room to the right. Only about 4 meters deep. Then up to the second floor etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,854 ✭✭✭Dr Turk Turkelton

    Op check out theranch_newbuild on insta.

    Sounds like the kinda thing you'd be interested in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,487 ✭✭✭✭whisky_galore

    People here are less educated wrt aesthetics and accept bland and the outright ugly. Sometimes penny pinching and sometimes it is just bad taste.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,537 ✭✭✭DeSelby83

    Out if interest can you post something that's not ugly?

    Also are you referring to estate builds or one off houses around the country or both?

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,750 ✭✭✭kirving

    People don't see the difference between minimalist and cost saving design.

    No garden, no driveway, no external windowsills, totally flat walls, no fascia boards, white plaster, no fireplace, tiny windows(this is getting better), tiny shaded rear gardens, plain skirting boards, cheap plastic ESB boxes on your port are because there's nowhere else to out them....

    All marketed as clean and maintenance free, which they admittedly are, but they're also completely devoid of any character and ultimately designed to a cost.

    I'm renting a 1 bed apt in Dublin for almost 6 times the cost of what my parents mortgage cost on a new 4 bed detached in 1993 in Dublin. (Still 3X accounting for inflation). Believe me when I say I want cheap housing, fast. But there's a middle ground between speed, and throwing up absolute egg boxes which we need to live with for the next 80 years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,480 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Housing is so needed that builders and developers know that planning permission is a formality now and aesthetically there isn’t the same desire for the perfect or well thought out design… people just need functional homes asap…to service the seriously huge surge in population thanks to immigration in the main…and the pressure that’s adding to housing stock. Egg boxes as above is how I’d describe two developments I can think of…look like they were designed by some lad after leaving the pub and with a load of leftover materials…

    Also two new builds very near me and 10 years ago not a cat in hells chance permission would have been granted… one is on a corner and the high wall around it so if you are pulling out in a car you can’t see any traffic from the left on the main road until the very last second… pure dangerous …. Especially if the vehicle is speeding …

    So whoever in the planning department just looked, went.. “.. yes, it won’t fall down, we need houses,so, approved !

    Cheap looking design, materials and just ugly.

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

    I'll also never get why people build such big houses, there's no reason in the world why a family of 4 or 5 should need a 2500 square foot house, and I see it all the time people whinging about the cost of everything when they could cut a quarter off their house and save a fortune, time and again people complaining about how much tradesmen cost but getting planning to build a 3000 square foot behemoth seems like a must have for some people

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,994 ✭✭✭✭Lumen

    Is it feasible to build a house that doesn't look like all the new builds? For example is it still possible to build a stone cottage with a thatched roof if you insulated it enough?

    Stone cottages with thatched roofs weren't invented because they looked nice, they were the most sensible use of materials and technology available at the time, used in such a way to maximize performance, e.g. small windows to reduce heat loss, field stone gathered in the process of clearing fields for agriculture. They were also dark inside and unhealthy to live in due to the burning of solid fuels (there are still a lot of people in denial about the lung cancer and other respiratory disease risks from this).

    Attempting to keep the traditional aesthetic elements (e.g. small windows) in a modern build doesn't make any sense. Why would you want to live in the dark when modern glazing makes it unnecessary?

    Best start with a blank sheet of paper, include design elements enabled by modern technology which serve the needs and expectations of the occupants, and try not to botch it with poor proportions.

    Anyway, these look OK to me.

    Rural, in the UK

    Urban, and closer to home

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,551 ✭✭✭Yellow_Fern

    They are two sets of lovely houses. It is worth saying, both retain a lot of traditional elements like pitched roofs, vertical windows with the golden ratio I think, no dormers. But I wonder, are those metal roofs noisy?

  • Registered Users Posts: 30,994 ✭✭✭✭Lumen

    Good question. The metal roof in the bungalow is counterbattened and ventilated, so presumably a little noisy from the outside, but if you have well fitted triple glazing, there's presumably little flanking sound.

    Except in summer 😄

    The exposed concrete helps to moderate daytime peaks, but as Juraj points out, withthermal mass, adequate provision for ‘night purging’ is essential to ensure heat does not build up. He can achieve this by opening all windows at night, providing good cross ventilation.

    Metal mesh fly screens over the bedroom windows enable night ventilation without insects getting in — and also add privacy and cut out some solar gain during the day. This works so well that Juraj and Joyce have retrofitted similar screens to other windows.

    I dunno, there's something quite nice about the idea of summer rain hitting a metal roof. Quite nice, or bloody annoying, depending on one's mood.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,662 ✭✭✭Gusser09

    100 percent. Its mental and a blight on the landscaoe in the country. Long line the bungalow or cottage.

    We recently got an extension and looking at it in hindsight the size was overkill. We now have a 1500 sq foot house for 4 of us. Silly really. No need for any 4-5 person family to have a house of 2000-2500 sq foot.

    Regarding housing for single people a mate of mine is divorced, grown up kids etc. He'd be more than content with a 1 bed 30-40 sq meter apartment. But no we wont build them. Bollix. Instead he is looking at 2 bed houses or apartment way to big for his needs.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,027 ✭✭✭standardg60

    Small windows weren't so much to do with heat loss, they were just the simplest and cheapest method of construction. Arching or hewing a large piece of stone for the lintel wasn't an option for most, and glass was expensive.

    Personally i think that the planning requirement for small windows for new builds in rural areas just so they look 'traditional' is a joke. It makes a mockery of whatever 'heritage' is supposed to be. Times have changed and modern architecture should reflect the current

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,487 ✭✭✭✭whisky_galore

    Irish keeping up with the Murphy's/dick waving thing. Johnny over the road puts up a big house, therefore I must fire up a bigger house.

    It's very funny when they run out of funds building their mini hotel and the 'garden' is rough ground with building materials blowing around. Same with motors, big car on the outside but poverty spec inside.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭JimmyVik


  • Subscribers Posts: 40,545 ✭✭✭✭sydthebeat

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

    Exactly, gravel drive with the kerbs done but no money to tar it, house not painted 10 years later, crazy stuff

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,461 ✭✭✭Furze99

    No chimney is one of the bigger changes, I see estates of matchbox houses being built now around Dublin. Like Legoland in places and none have chimneys, solar panels stuck on roof in many cases. Where chimneys are built, they are false constructions, just to add to the look of the house and put the price up several thousand €.

    Don't quite agree on the small windows think and that large modern windows are the business. All openings in exterior walls, windows & doors etc can never be as well insulated as a properly built exterior wall, as far as I know. So there's some balance, a sweet point. Where enough light and solar gain is allowed in whilst set against heat loss.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,120 ✭✭✭sprucemoose

    not award winning but those are quite decent.

    '100 percent. Its mental and a blight on the landscaoe in the country. Long line the bungalow or cottage' - long live the bungalow, are you being serious?

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,528 ✭✭✭Deeec

    Most new builds in estates do look minimal and cheap. They are ugly. They get way uglier though years down the line when occupants start putting there own stamp on the property by changing the windows and doors or some other aspect of the property. Often people get this very wrong.

    I also hate the teeny tiny back gardens that most new estates have. Houses are so close together that there is no privacy whatsoever. Years ago houses had much bigger gardens. Outdoor space is important and it is often not considered by buyers at all.

    Most new builds don't seem to have garages for storage anymore either.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,487 ✭✭✭✭whisky_galore

    They get way uglier though years down the line when occupants start putting there own stamp on the property by changing the windows and doors or some other aspect of the property. Often people get this very wrong.

    Oh by god. This.

    Those dolls house white PVC doors are a pet hate of mine. These do not look good on anything.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,076 ✭✭✭✭mickdw

    To be honest, most self builders set out with just such plans.

    They raise enough funds to get into the house and comply with planning and building regs. No more, no less.

    It's easy to scoff at this but it has been the way for along time in rural Ireland and to be fair, you would have to argue that it is wise to put the money into getting the house right and big deal if they have a rough driveway for a year or 2.

    I see this consistently in my work certifying one off builds where only minimal funds are allocated towards landscaping.

    In terms of certification, I look for garden walls to be done and any drainage required to be in place but couldn't care less about lawn seeding or tarmac or kerbs.

    You might see it as crazy stuff but these people are sitting in their 250 sqm houses with mortgages of under 250k for the most part.

    They might argue that paying 600 or 700k for a small house in an estate is the crazy stuff.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭JimmyVik

    If you told me the house i was buying was going to look like that then id tell yuou not to bother even starting to build it :)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,239 ✭✭✭Pussyhands

    I'm talking about one off builds with this point. I'm in the self build group on fb and most of the houses are sooo ugly.

    What is actually with the design where you have a house and then you have another section extrdued out of it like it's an extension...yet it's a new build! Similar to this kinda thing.

    And not having a fascia or soffit looks so wrong.