Self Build – Prevention is better than cure

The key factor to completing a self build is good financial and practical planning, which go hand in hand. Being a building contractor for the past 20+ years and talking to many colleagues and competitors in the field over the years, I have yet to hear about any project that was completed without the odd glitch or hic-up.

However, there are certain measures that can be taken to minimalize issues. First of all, we have to accept that we cannot control the weather, particularly in Ireland.

Problems that commonly arise are:

  • Increased lead times for specialised products or materials
  • Machinery or equipment breaking down
  • Labour and trades delays
  • Inflation to materials & labour
  • Going over budget
  • Poor ground conditions for foundations
  • Inaccurate site surveys

The above would cover most issues that arise on site, but the most important one in my opinion is running out of funds. It simply boils down to individuals ‘guesstimating’ costs or not studying the outlays associated with their project.

There is a preventative measure that can be taken to diminish or lessen this from happening.


This can be problematic if you don’t already have a construction background, but it will give you peace of mind and a few less sleepless nights (I know all about them!). Nevertheless, research can be time consuming for today’s modern family juggling a career and trying to organise a self-build.

The solution for most is to approach or engage with a Quantity Surveyor. They will price for all materials and labour relating to the project, but in their lingo. I give this advice with a slight bone to pick with the typical QS. Have you ever heard of the ‘Plain English Campaign’?
Note to quantity surveyors: Not everyone is a quantity surveyor!

‘Ditto this, extra over that, sundries here, make good there’

Even trying to decipher their terminology myself proved difficult at times. I found myself trying to dissect their layout and wrap my head around the wording. Thus, DJ Build Estimations was born. I developed a simple spreadsheet with all materials and labour tasks associated with each major phase of a project. This template originally became my bible for tendering for projects and I was able to be highly accurate with my pricing.
Over time I was being approached by friends and relatives taking on a self-build to provide them with this knowledge. I saw an opening in the market for a ‘Bill Of Quantities without the QS jargon’


Back to money saving tips for the Self-builder. Throughout a project there will always be a few tweaks here and there once you start to see the shape and structure of your building come together. Try not to deviate from your plans drastically as this will have a knock-on effect on every phase.
Be sure of your specification and do your research into certain materials and their costs and be able to stick to your budget. Ultimately the best way to save money is to spend that few quid before you start and get an accurate estimation done based on your plans.

Do your research in terms of both tradesmen and materials in your local area. The advantages of choosing our service is that we do all of this research for you behind the scenes. We tailor prices to your local area for labour, materials and plant/skip hire.
So, before you start, you will have a report that is accurate, easy to follow, personalised and saves you time and money!