New for OldWhen John could not find a barn to convert he created his own old-style new build using contemporary style open plan living set against reclaimed materials.
John is a chip off the old block – the third of his siblings to don hard hat and wellies and go on-site for a self-build project. ‘Having watched my two older brothers build their houses and been nurtured on a diet of Grand Design-style TV programmes it was probably a foregone conclusion that I’d go down the same road when it was my turn to leave the family home nearby in Newtownards, County Down,’ says John, who started hunting for a site about 10 years ago. ‘Originally I’d wanted to tackle a barn conversion but Northern Ireland has relatively few vernacular rural out buildings which would be suitable and any I did see were way over my budget. So I decided to compromise and instead put pen to paper and started sketching ideas for a new-build house – but one which would look like it had been converted from the kinds of old farmhouses you see dotted about the countryside here.’
Eventually John found a site, close to the County Down coast, being sold by a local farmer and family friend. ‘I was blown away by the 360 degree view out to sea as far as Scotland in one direction and to the Mourne Mountains, where I love to hike, in the other. I know and love this area too as I spent a lot of my childhood summers in a caravan site just opposite and would have gone lobster fishing with the local fisherman!’ says John, who was itching to see those initial sketches materialise on site. Patience, however, was to be the watchword.
Read more in the May issue…