Can You Build a House for €150K in Ireland?
Wondering if you can build a house for €150K in Ireland? The last two years have seen construction cost increases that you’ll definitely need to consider when planning your budget. But that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. Read on to see how we suggest you do it in this step-by-step article.
The question of can you build a house in Ireland for €150K is a tricky one. Not because building your own home cheaply is a difficulty (which, of course, it is). But because while there are always variables to consider when costing an own build, the extraordinary circumstances of the last couple of years have greatly pushed up construction prices.
A current lack of tradespeople to meet demand along with scarcity and supply problems of particular building materials are two of the major problems people hoping to build their own homes will face next year.
Does that mean that building a home for €150K is a pipedream? Not exactly. What it does mean is that if you’re working within the constraints of a very tight budget, then you’ll need to be both very disciplined and a little creative with the options available to you. And if you stick by the four basic rules below, you should be able to pull it off.
Rule #1: Outline the (Pre-Build) Outlays
Dreaming of how you’ll decorate your home may be your number 1 pastime right now. But before you even get to comparing curtain swatches for the kitchen, you’ll need to figure out your pre-build outlays.
These are the fixed costs and calculated fees that are typically forked out before the first brick is laid. Figuring out what they are will give you a realistic idea of how much of your €150k you have to spend on the actual construction (and, of course, the curtains!)
We’re talking everything from stamp duty and permits to land registration and insurance.
Land registration fees are calculated based on the value of the land.
If you’ve managed to snag a plot for €50,000 (or less), a fee of €400 will apply. For land priced between €51,000 –€200,000, prepare to pay out €600.
You’ll also have to stump up for land registry mortgage fees (€175), and Commissioner of Oaths fees (€44).
Stamp duty applies to all residential properties, including sites with agreement to build. The rate is 1% if the property value is up to €1,000,000.
If you’re seeking planning permission there’s more to cough up, starting with the fee for an application to build a house, which is currently €65. Be aware that there are three types of permissions – full permission, outline permission and permission subsequent to outline permission.
If you apply firstly for outline permission to check that the planning authority agrees on principle to your building dreams, you’ll need to provide detailed drawings from your architect and wait for consequent permission before you proceed. All of this can bite into your budget so make sure you’re prepared for that too.
To really dot your i’s and cross your t’s in your ‘fixed costs’, add in the cost of selling your existing home.
Estate agents put this at approximately 1.5 – 4.5 % of the value of the property. If you’re not selling but renting, then add in the amount of rent you’ll pay out while you’re constructing your new dream digs.
These are the costs that start to bite you mid-build.
Approximate costs: Including registrations, insurance, planning permission and six months rent (or the cost of selling your current home which we’ve generalised at 2.5% of the current average of a semi-detached house across the country, which according to the Real Estate Alliance (REA) is €264,056) = €7,400
This includes all fees due to your lender, solicitor, structural engineer, architectural designer, and local authority.
Solicitors fees can range anywhere from €700 (excluding VAT) and upwards.
Architectural fees for a full project management service can vary as much as 7-14% of construction costs.
Considering that construction costs tend to amount to between 40-60% of the full cost of building a house, and, as we’ve already stated, those costs have sky-rocketed over the last while, it’s a lot to pay out on a tight budget. It does mean you have someone overseeing the entire build and keeping an eye on the purse strings to boot.
When looking to engage an architect, meet with at least three contenders and in your discussions with them, make them aware you want to keep costs low and mid-build changes to a minimum.
Approximate costs: €15,000
- Infrastructure Charges & Council Levies
Infrastructure charges include connection to mains water, electricity, and sewerage, alongside any other crucial connections like Wi-Fi or road improvements, that aren’t already in place and will be charged as council levies.
Depending on where you’re building, and whether it’s a rural or urban area, costs here can hike up from a manageable €2,500 to a hefty €8,000 and more!
Approximate costs: €5,000.
- Contingency Costs
Always include a contingency of at least 5% in case any other unforeseen costs start chomping away on your budget.
Approximate costs: €1,575 (worked out 5% of all the above costs).
Rule #2: Build Small
This is just common sense, really. After all, the bigger the house the more bricks, beams, blocks, flooring, tiles, etc., are needed. All of which will put a big dent in an already tight budget.
But don’t worry. Building small doesn’t have to mean shed-size. Ireland’s average dwelling floor space is 81m² (872 sq. feet). So, even if you decide on a reasonably budgeted self-build of 100m² you’re still topping the standard home size.
Before we look at breaking down the typical costs, it’s important to note that when we talk about construction costs in terms of square footage we’re generally referring to complete cost. That means labour, materials, builders’ overheads and their profit are all in the mix - But therein lies the variables. If you want contemporary features rather than a standard design, or, say, underfloor heating or hardwood floors, all of that will affect the overall costs.
Also, because of recent work stoppages and lockdowns, there are shortages in materials such as timber and steel, and that also has a big effect on current costs.
However, something to keep in mind is that of the largest fixed costs in constructing a house, the groundworks, foundations, and roofing are the ones with the heaviest price tags. But the specification and cost for a set foundation size and roof layout will not vary that much whether the design is single or double-storey. So by building up instead of out, you’ll get more space for your buck.
How to Work Out Approximate Construction Costs
The average construction cost to build a home at the moment is around €100 - €150 per square foot. So, the median labour cost on a 100 m2 (1,076 square foot) home will come in at around €134,500 per sq. ft.
This relates to what is called “builders finish” and takes in only the general construction elements of the house and not the internal finishes.
However, this does not give you a huge amount of wiggle room within your €150,000 budget. So, you either need to rethink the size of your home and go for smaller square footage or do your homework in terms of finding a good builder who’s not going to charge you more than the lower rate.
Additionally, location may play a part in whether you can shave some cents off the bill or not. According to the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, houses being built outside of Dublin tend to incur lower labour costs.
That said, if your site is off the beaten track, you may find yourself stumping up for transport to get materials and builders to your site so that the money you save on labour rates is paid out anyway in transport costs.
Approximate Builder’s Finish Costs: €112,980 (incld. €5,380 contingency at 5%)
Rule #3: Stay Simple
The more complex your design, the more costly your home. This is because outlays for materials, and not just labour, are likely to increase.
So back away from the bay windows-in-every-downstairs-room-idea and think twice about living in a tree-house! (We know it’s been your dream since childhood, but…)
Think of simple but still stylish classical architecture designs like the square Georgian shape. Avoid oddly angled walls, internally and externally. Really think through your flooring as this can be one of the biggest material costs. Laminate, bamboo and even polished concrete are all great looking and durable alternatives to hardwood.
How to Work Out Approximate Interior Finish Costs
Interior finishes are typically priced at around 20% of the builder’s finish. These finishes include all your further home needs such as built-in kitchen, tiling, flooring, painting and utilities (i.e. plumbing and light fixtures).
Think twice about bringing in specialist craftspeople for specific and complex building work too as you’ll be adding an extra few thousand onto the bill.
Approximate Material Costs: €21,520 (incld. €1,120 contingency at 5%)
Rule #4: Be Sensible
Seeing your dream house taking shape can accelerate your ambitions.
It’s often at the installing stage that you start to convince yourself that an extra euro or 2,000 won’t matter much as long as you’re keeping to a ballpark figure of your original budget.
But #realtalk: Overspending in one area means cutting costs in another. Or risking the chance of having to halt work mid-build because you’ve run out of the readies.
Areas such as tiling, fitted kitchens, bathroom suites, cabinets, wardrobes, and various appliances, can make a difference of thousands if you decide to opt for uber- quality.
For example, heating systems come in all shapes and sizes nowadays. But a state-of-the-art heating system complete with underfloor heating, high-end boiler and fancy controls can easily set you back €5,000- €7,000 (unfitted). While standard radiators and condensing boilers may come in at under half that price.
We’re not suggesting you skimp on quality. But invest in what’s best for you – and your budget.
Additional Ways to Cut Down on Costs
- DIY it Where Possible
Taking on some of the tasks such as plastering, painting, decorating and tiling can make big savings on your self build.
But only do it if you’ve got time – and experience. In other words, be realistic about what you can do and can’t do. And communicate with the builder so they know when you’re on-site and what they can knock off their to-do list.
Potential Savings: Daily rates for professional labourers differ depending on trade, but typically land around €150-1€80 per day. Depending on how much graft you’re willing to do and which area you’re able to tackle, you could make a savings of €500 - €3,000.
- Project Managing if you have the Time, Skills, and Moxie
Project managing your build will enable you to save thousands – if you do it right.
It’s a massive undertaking and one not to be taken on without really understanding the pros and cons.
As project manager you’ll be expected to do everything including managing the day-to-day details of the site, hiring and scheduling trade, sourcing and managing materials, and keeping everything on time and within budget. It can be hugely stressful as well as time-consuming.
If you don’t want to hire a main contractor as project manager, but don’t want to take on the bulk of the work yourself either, you could think about taking on some of the tasks and then talk to your architect and builder about what they can do on your behalf.
Potential Savings: €3,000 – €10,000
- Sourcing (Bargain) Materials
Bargains can be found for fixtures and fittings, such as simple lighting, PVC windows and fitted kitchens. If your designer or builder sources fixtures or appliances that you feel are too expensive, do it yourself and see if you can find something cheaper.
Always talk to them first about sourcing materials. Truth is, they may be able to get better bargains on bulk items – e.g. bricks, blocks and types of timber.
But if you have the time and the tenacity, you could likely track down cheaper, but still quality-based, baths, showers, boilers, kitchen cabinets, etc.
Check out smaller local businesses for possible deals, and mix and match with basic and luxury fittings for a high-end look at high street prices.
Potential Savings: 21,000 – €12,000
The Final Figure
Our approximate pre-build and construction costs, along with a median €14,000 saving due to DIYing it, brings the total to €149,460.
Of course, the cost of any self-build depends on such unique variables as the ideas and tastes of those building the house.
Nonetheless, our figure rounded off €149,500 does show that with some forethought and focused planning it is possible to build the home of your dreams with a budget of €150k …and still have €500 left for curtains for all the house – not just the kitchen!