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How I Built my Dream Home: Caitriona Hughes

House 3 min read

23 Jul 2020

House2Home: The Complete Guide to Renovating or Redecorating

As part our House2Home series, where we share expert advice on renovating and redecorating, self-builder Caitriona Hughes spoke about her journey creating her stunning seaside home.

Caitriona, who featured on Independent.ie's 'Insta inspiration: The social media accounts to check out before tackling a self-build' and was completely new to the world self-building, brought us through her own key learnings and pitfalls; which she hopes will help you get the most out of your own project!

'So building a house is an extremely exciting prospect, but it can also be very daunting especially, if like me, you don’t have any background in anything remotely connected with the industry or design side of things,' said Caitriona.

You can follow her Instagram page - @PebbleBeachHouse.

Click here for a sneak peek of the interior of Caitriona's stunning sea-side house. 

1. Getting started with a Self-Build

Using Pinterest and Instagram

'I began by first organising various different folders on Pinterest.  I found both Instagram and Pinterest a huge resource for gathering ideas and homing in on design concepts we were drawn to.'

'This really helped us conceptually hone in on our style. Instagram was especially useful - there is a lovely community feel and I found people on there really helpful.'

'You can ask the community any questions you may have and they will be genuine in their responses, interest and wanting to help.'


Getting an architect involved

'From this initial research stage, we were then able to show all of our ideas to our architect who turned them into a few different designs, from which we quickly choose one we fell in love with.'

'In total, we spoke with about five architects and three builders. You will know immediately if these are people that you will gel with or not, and that really does make a big difference to how your experience will be.'

'I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment of ours, and really believe that was down a lot to the team we chose. So when you’re deciding on your professionals keep the following in mind.' 

  Caitriona reccomends:

- 'Definitely meet a few of each.
- 'Take into consideration personal recommendations.'
- 'Arm yourself with a small list of questions that you ask each of them so you can easily compare.'


2. The Self-Build Design Process 

'When in the design process itself, think about what you ultimately want from your refurb or build. What are your wish lists for each room be it views, light or focal points.'

Caitriona says:

1. 'Take each room one at a time, and gather your ideas in a mood board type of way.'
2. 'Speak to your architect and tradesmen about your design ideas and they will give you the best advice on what will work in your home.'
3. 'You can then go and shop around for those materials – but make sure to talk to your architect about them first, before shopping. I wasted a lot time getting samples and thinking about materials that wouldn’t have worked for us.'


3. Budgeting 

From a budgeting point of view my key learnings from the process would be:

1. 'Start a spread sheet and break it down into all your costs, quotes etc. There are some great templates on Instagram in people’s highlights, so be sure to check Instagram out for budgeting resources like this.'

2. 'Save as early as you can, and put your savings into a separate account.'
3. 'Shop around! I can’t stress this point enough - the difference in prices can be eye watering!'
4. 'Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount, there’s nearly always some wiggle room especially if you are buying a large amount.'
5. 'Buy your electrical items and appliances when they were on sale - Black Friday and January Sales were great for me.'
6. 'Pick up little items along the way, like towels and bed sheets, when they’re on offer. It’s very hard to buy all of these at the end of your project, usually at full price, and when the piggy back is normally well past empty.'


4. Top Five Things to Remember 

'Overall for any build, extension, renovation or redecoration job from my experience my top tips for anybody embarking on their journey would be:


1. 'Don’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed with too many choices.'
2. 'Stay focused on the number “3” for samples and ideas.'
3. 'Have a little fun with one or two of your ideas... life’s too short to be super safe everywhere in the home.'
4. 'Preparation is the key to success.... even if it seems to soon, it’s not! Do as much preparation in advance you can before it all kicks off, as there won’t be much time in the middle of the chaos.'
5. 'Enjoy the process... the laws of attraction and all that. How many times will you get to do this?'

You can follow Caitriona and see her home build story unfold on Instagram, with some great design tips at @pebblebeachhouse2020

Keep an eye out for #House2Home across out FacebookTwitter, or Instagram for more great advice on planning, budgeting, as well as design and style ideas and inspiring stories – so you can turn that house into the perfect home.

 If you need any help with budgeting or financial support with your project, (big or small) don’t hesitate to contact your local credit union - we’re here to help.