Tag Archives: building

Self-Build using Recycled Materials

Following our great success with our experiment in which we built a fantastic work space for €44.95 out of recycled and reused materials , I received this comment in my inbox from the Architect Andy Burdon whose brains I pick occasionally specially when  I am looking for advice on building regulations or cutting edge green technology. I thought this comment  worthy of a blog post…

The problem with self-builders using recycled materials

“A major problem with the proposal to construct an extension constructed from recycled or  re-used materials is the legal requirement to comply with statutory requirements, primarily Planning Control and the Building Regulations. Understanding or interpreting these regulations and applying them to a self build construction may be beyond the expertise of aspiring self builders. There are several sources of self-help books or even “Wiki How” web pages that can guide prospective 5Kers through this maze of requirements and regulations.

However, the fundamental problem is how can one be certain the proposed building is compliance with the regulations and is structurally safe and sound? Traditional building techniques such as concrete foundations and block or brickwork walls are sufficiently proven to allow for safe construction , but in your project these components and techniques are likely to be too expensive. Given the budget allowance, alternative construction techniques may be required.

These questions lead inevitably towards the necessity to seek relevant expert advice and guidance, before and during and sometimes even after construction. For the most part , this service can be supplied by a competent Architect or Engineer, however, it is unlikely that this service will be free of charge. With a stated budget limit of €5K, this may be a problem.

The use of second-hand, or re-used components present difficulties in terms of quality control for structural components of any extension. Without independent testing and certainty it is unlikely that a structural engineer would be satisfied with the use of reused components. It must be remembered that any professional involved with the project is taking on a “duty of care” and would be liable if anything were to go awry.

A solution to these impediments may be to employ an Architect/ Engineer/ Supplier/ Fabricator with the skill , training and relevant insurances to design and supervise the installation of a low-budget structural “frame” set onto designed foundations and made of specified components , which can then be safely infilled with floors, walls, windows and a roof formed from reused or recycled materials as required by the aspiring €5Ker. This is a similar, but more site-specific solution than the use of a cargo container cut away to allow for various uses, and it avoids the expensive cost of cranes ! Although a cost will arise for this service, the ability then to proceed re using / recycling materials becomes a viable option providing appropriate materials are used. I believe this option offers great potential and should be further investigated.

Best wishes with the project

Andy Burdon

Thank you Andy, While I recognise the importance of a strictly regulated, compliant construction sector, it does as you say put a huge financial burden on our miniscule budget in terms of affording competent professionals. Your suggestion does however allow us to be creative and experimental insofar as infill material is concerned and attempt to save costs that way.

In this excellent article from selfbuild.ie Dublin architect Tim Lavin weighs up the advantages and disadvantages of tried and tested components such as Timber Frame, SIPs(Structurally Insulated Panels), Insulated concrete Forms (ICF), Glass, Steel and Strawbale to construct the frame. The article outlines construction methods and planning permission for attaching an extension to your house as a self builder. Well worth a read!

We welcome any advice or thoughts that any of you out there might have of how we might work experimentally and creatively within the constraints of our budget and bureaucracy!

They did it in Brighton!

Cast your eyes on these images of The Brighton Waste House, the first permanent building in the UK to be constructed from waste, surplus material and discarded plastics, all under full building regulations and with planning permission! brighton waste house facade Two thousand recycled and weatherproof carpet tiles clad the exterior facade while old vinyl banners are used as internal vapor control layers. framework Foundations made from ground-granulated blast-furnace slag support a framework comprising salvaged plywood beams, columns and timber joists rescued from a nearby demolished house. denim_Jeans in‌sulation Old plastic razors, denim jeans, videocassettes, and 20,000 toothbrushes were inserted into the walls as insulation chalk wall To improve energy efficiency and thermal conductivity, the builders constructed rammed earth walls out of chalk waste and clay. Whats more exciting is that the project engages local community and serves as an open research project Find out more about this exciting project by BBM architects here


And So It Begins

Natasha It is customary for me to sit at my kitchen table, looking out into the garden and dream about the possibilities of what I could do to my house if I won the Lotto.

I have mentally redesigned the interiors hundreds of times, I have constructed elaborate extensions, which would double, even treble the size of the living space – only to come back to the sad reality that winning the Lotto is an impossibility as I don’t actually play it, and besides (with all the day-dreaming) I struggle to maintain and clean the space I have now. I certainly would not have the time to procrastinate as I do now, if I had a bigger house.

It occurred to me one day as I found myself on the wrong side of forty five, my work as an interior designer impacted upon by the construction implosion in Ireland, that I might need to invest in my future and look for alternative source of income. And that my home could possibly provide the pension fund that I had not made provision for…

Once my children were to move on (a sad inevitability that I am already struggling with, even though the youngest is only 13!) I could let out a room or foster a wayward teenager. But on clear reflection, given the price of renting or buying , my children may never leave and the plan B of fostering when they are eventually gone may render me too old to qualify, and given my own experience with less than wayward  teenagers, I do not want to leave it until I am too long in the tooth.

So that got me thinking, that if all else fails… I could build an extra room, so that I could start earning an income from my house!


I do not have the funds or borrowing capacity to build….. Hence I got to thinking…  could I build an extension with no money or maybe for under 5000 euro????

And so I find myself here in this virtual reality, putting my quest out to the universe and Hey the universe has responded…

I walk the hills with a man called Mark, whose daughter had recently graduated as an architect. She  was one of the very few in her class who went into a job straight after her studies, so I thought it safe to ask her if she could recommend someone out of her class, who might have an interest in social media and working with me on this project. I met young Emma Byrne and she immediately responded positively to my thoughts and suggested she and her colleagues Fiona Nulty and Aisling O’Sullivan would be interested in joining my team and take on the architectural design.

Since meeting them, they have launched into the project wholeheartedly. they have done trojan work, surveying the site, drawing up plans. collecting source material and not least drawing up some wonderful ideas, all of which I will share with you…