Rob Doyle and Mairéad Higgins

LMN17

INSPIRATION

Moving back from Australia Rob and Mairéad wanted to make their home in the Leitrim landscape; they wanted to be off-grid, somewhere with no services so that there would be no cables going across their land. Somewhere south facing, with enough land for horses, a stream for hydra, isolated but near Sligo. They also knew that they wanted to do up something old.  
Looked for two years from 1999 before finding somewhere; found and bought this cottage in 2001.   Moved into a mobile home on site and began to plan their build. Began work in 2003 and moved in in 2004.

They wanted good quality workmanship, local and eco-friendly materials and technologies where possible.

Aim to be self-sufficient in all aspects of their lives.


TYPE OF HOUSE

Cottage renovation and extension; on 20acres.


POINT OF INTEREST

Getting light into the cottage was a challenge, they had to make the windows 3 times the original size. 
The building time was stressful when they were both working full time and had builders there working. Rob had to project manage and make sure all the necessary materials and tools  and were there for the builders to be kept going.

Upstairs floor soundproofed with hemp and lime


ECO ELEMENTS

To be sustainable was very important to them and is why they wanted to; their aims were to live as self- sufficiently as possible.

  • Renovation rather than new-build.
  • Use of lime and hemp.
  • Hydro scheme from stream. Rob teaches this at the Organic centre.
  • Wind turbine (Jimmy O’Dowd:  Eirbyte)
  • Polytunnel, vegetable garden, grow most of their own vegetables
  • Compost toilet in garden
  • Use of wood for all heating needs.

CREATIVE ELEMENTS

Personal space, part worked on by them-selves and part by other builders. Attention to detail by the journeymen craftsworkers. Skillled carpentry.


ARCHITECT/DESIGN BY

Themselves

BUILDER

Themsleves, Kai and Kirsten, Nick Hughes


MATERIALS

Foundations     Dug out floor, put in radon and damp proof barrier.8’ hemp and lime, steel mesh, under-floor heating, 10’ lime mortar.
Walls  Original then 100mm hemp and lime render. Info from Terry Grogan
Roof Tin cheap €1200, and can be recycled
 Insulation Sheep’s wool and hemp and lime
   
  • Electricain Shea Boyle
  • Lime render Nick Hughes
  • Peter and Brigita – Kurkul oven
  • Windows – Patsy Rooney

HEAT SOURCE

  • Wood: underfloor heating
  • Kerkul oven and
  • Back boiler on wood stove in living room.
  • Solar panel 7.5m panel.

WATER SOURCE

Spring well. Holding tank for water on the hill.


WASTE

Biodigester and compost toile


GARDEN

Polytunnel, vegetable patch, horses, woodland.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • Time scale: 4 years.
  • Anything you would have done differently? Rob: 'Should’ve bulldozed and started from scratch'. Mairéad: 'No!
  • They don’t have much wall space as it’s all window and doors. Not enough storage space.
  • Satisfaction rating: Love it. All hand-built. Quiet. Temperature is stable.  Love the roof
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