grand designs Ballygowan barn reconstruction

5 money saving tips from self-builders

How Grand Designs' Micah and Elainea saved money on their self-build barn

By Gemma Parkes | 5 October 2017

Planning a budget for your self build project can be a daunting task. With huge contractor fees and material costs to factor in, it’s easy to lose sight of the hidden costs. For architect Micah Jones and his wife Elaine, the main challenge was to design the ideal family home on a tight budget.

Here, Grand Designs magazine asks grand designers Micah and Elainea how to save money on your self-build project…

Money Saving Tips for your Self Build Project from Grand Designs self builders Micah and Elainea Jones

Photo: Bradley Quinn

Choosing temporary accommodation

As rental fees continue to rise, staying in private lodging is not a cost effective option for those on a limited budget. To save money Micah, Elaine and their three children lived in a caravan during the build.

Choosing to hire or buy a second-hand static caravan offers a number of money-saving options. Not only is the overall cost cheaper than renting or staying in a hotel, but once your static home has been delivered you can hook it up to the electricity mains to easily move your home comforts in.

Use cost effective materials

Being open-minded when choosing your materials could save you valuable time and money, as Micah and Elaine quickly learned. Working to a tight budget meant that the couple had to adapt to using cost effective materials such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), a material that ‘no one working on the build had ever seen before,’ confesses Micah.

CLT is often overlooked as it’s largely used for commercial projects such as warehouses and agricultural buildings. However, it is a very versatile material that can be used to build multiple areas of your home. ‘The walls, roof, stairs and some built-in furniture are made from CLT and it creates an incredibly warm and cosy space,’ explains Micah.

Don’t let anything go to waste

If you’re on a strict budget, being resourceful with your materials is essential to cutting down your overall cost. Micah and Elaine refused to let anything go to waste, using timber offcuts from the construction of the window and door openings to build the stairway, breakfast bar and kitchen. They even painted leftover pieces of exterior larch cladding, which they repurposed as wall tiles.