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Blog 5 – On Site

new house

We had just returned home from spending 10 days in sunny Spain with the family and got a lovely surprise with the digger on site. To say I was excited was an understatement!! The week our Contractor Seamus Friel & Sons started reading the site I actually “drove past” about 4 times a day… so if anyone seen me driving up the Derry road to turn at the beach car park to come back down the road you’ll understand why…a dream coming to reality can make a girl go a little crazy 😉


It only took a couple of days to read the site and pour the foundations and within 2 weeks from commencement the sub-floor was in place.

site 1

site 2

While the contractor was on site we were discussing our heating system with our chosen specialist NuTherm NW. We had decided to go with vertical bore hole ground source heat pump and to get the 2 no. 80 metre deep bore holes dug while the site works were ongoing. When the bore hole diggers arrived on site they hit water at 60 metres and had to stop work. Thankfully Gavin and Damien from NuTherm NW came to the rescue and were able to guide us very professional through what seemed like a major problem and came up with an alternative solution. We managed to work out enough horizontal area within the garden to proceed with a ground source heat pump but by changing from vertical to horizontal pipework. I liked the idea of only having 2 vertical bores within the site as opposed to the entire garden space having pipework underground but once advised by the professionals that this would have absolutely no effect to our garden use I was very happy with the solution…and the horizontal option worked out in our favour financially.


Once the sub-floor dried out our competent block layers started on site. They had constructed the walls to 1st floor level within one week. We used McDaid Bro’s for our concrete and blocks and Cross Concrete Flooring for our 1st floor concrete slabs, both highly recommended. As I had designed large corner windows to our sea view elevation we required bespoke lintels to be designed and manufactured and chose a local Buncrana company Crana Engineering Ltd. By using local companies for bespoke items can work out a lot cheaper than using a large nationwide company but you may require an engineer to specify the items but it is definitely worth looking into.


site 5

site 6

As an architect I know that room sizes always look smaller to begin with but I struggled with convincing myself for our own house. I worried I hadn’t made the rooms big enough and had slight anxiety that I could no longer alter the drawings as I pleased. We now had to live with what I had designed. However, the more I visited the site as the works progressed I knew I loved the design and regained confidence in myself. I loved the look of the house, the split level layout, the windows that capture the amazing Lough Swilly backdrop and how well the whole house functions. Seeing my husband and kids finally walk through the rooms that I had created with delight was like winning a global architectural award. The months of designing and re-designing had definitely paid off.