Open Plan Self-build

Gareth Boyd and his wife Lindsey had always dreamed of building a home for themselves and their young son. Working as an Architectural Technician at 2020architects, Gareth had spent many years helping people to design and build their ideal home, and so in October 2017, decided it was time to put their own plans into action.

The couple put their house on the market in late 2017 to help fund their self-build, and found it was sold just seven days later, meaning the pressure was really on to find a plot to build on and somewhere to live in the meantime.

They found the perfect spot in the Northern Irish countryside at the end of 2017 where planning was already live, and building commenced in July the next year. Large and remote, the plot featured a lane leading to the edge of the site, a preinstalled water pipe, and an electric pole in reach.

Gareth designed the home himself, saving on both time and architectural fees, and based the design on a simple barn shape, managing to fit everything they needed into 1,700 sq. feet – again minimising fees and any potential issues.

“Because of the job I’m in, I see people building their ideal homes all the time, so we really fancied doing it ourselves too. We also wanted something a bit more remote than where we’d left, somewhere out in the country.”

The Boyds first approached a mortgage advisor to ensure there were no potential or obvious issues that may put off lenders, before the chosen lender checked over both the site and design to confirm.

After a few tests to analyse the conditions of the groundworks, all legal checks and necessary approvals were granted. A call from the couple’s Planning Officer explained how they were happy with the overall design of the house, but the concrete chimney they had included in their original designs had been rejected. The Boyds decided to sadly discard the idea of a chimney, knowing that fighting the decision could have caused significant delays, with no real guarantee of success.

It wasn’t long after then when planning was fully approved, having taken only two months from submission to approval – a very quick process for an application on a greenfield site in their area, and the build could commence.

“We wanted a home where the inside was connected to the outside. That’s why we opted to use plenty of timber to create a Scandinavian feel, while the open plan spaces and large windows would allow us to look right over the landscape and fill each room with natural light.”

The family finally moved into their new home in July 2019, with only the finishing touches to the interiors and landscaping left to complete. The end result is a quaint, rustic home filled with natural materials and home comforts.

Lighting is one of the stand-out features in Gareth and Lindsey’s home. The open plan, Scandinavian style living space is flooded with natural daylight from the windows and the light bounces off of the timber flooring and white walls to create a bright and fresh feeling throughout the home.

Due to his work at the Architect firm, Gareth was well acquainted with roof windows specialists Keylite. “We chose to incorporate Keylite’s roof windows as I’ve worked with them many times before on projects in my day job. I knew without a doubt we would be getting quality products with minimal hassle.

“From an efficiency point of view, we put a lot of emphasis on a fabric-first approach to design throughout the home. This involved maximising the thermal efficiency of the envelope of the building, investing in generous amounts of insulation, good quality windows and air-tightness. If these areas are specified and installed properly, the amount of energy required to heat the home is greatly reduced. With this in mind, the Keylite expanding thermal collar is fantastic for minimising any heat escaping around the window, making the overall window far more thermally efficient.

“The whole process from ordering to installation was so easy. We ordered from the builders’ merchants, JP Corry who had the windows we wanted in stock already and were sent to us right away. I know that the joiners we work with like using Keylite products because of ease of installation too.

“We chose three centre pivot roof windows with blinds to go in our son’s room and over the mezzanine landing, which looks over into our open plan living space – without a doubt these are the brightest rooms in the house. The roof windows shine natural light right down into the living area setting off the whole space; we’re honestly chuffed with the end result.”


Style – Scandinavian self-build

Location – Northern Ireland

Build time – 2 years

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