Colin and Nina



This is a new build family home on a five acre site close to the sea in north County Sligo. The timber frame was erected on site and made weather tight in just 6 days. it was then finished to Passive House standards and now maintains space heating and generates hot water using an integrated Heat Recovery Unit and air to air heat pump. A rainwater harvesting system with filtration system supplies all potable water needs in the house.


New Self-Build


We were required as part of our planning to construct a very large percolation mound. This required using some of the best top soil that had been saved from the excavation of the foundations for the house. It seemed to be such a waste of fertile soil so I turned it into a giant raised bed and now have our main (for now) vegetable garden growing there. I work full time and so have need this space to be relatively low input. So I have it mostly mulched with seaweed and hay to keep the weeds down and build fertility – moving towards a fully no dig system. As it is a percolation mound it has its own self watering system.

The plan for the remaining three acres or so is to keep it in grass and start mob grazing a small herd of Dexter or Dexter X cattle. This system will increase biodiversity of both the sward and the soil whilst sequestering atmospheric carbon into the soil.

A lake is planned but we have decided to wait until our children are older. 


Passive House Specification

Sheepwool and cellulose insulation

Except for the foundation -> natural timber throughout

Rainwater harvesting

Very useful solar gain.

Nilan Compact P heat recovery unit heats the house and the hot water. We don’t use any source of heating other than that which is generated in the house by cooking, heating or washing. Ambient temperature in the house is predominantly 21-22 degrees occasionally dropping to 19 on the morning after temperatures drop below freezing outside. 





Roman Szypura/ clíoma house


Foundation – Ecocem concrete and quinnlite block

Walls – timber frame with diagonal timber racking board. Exterior block cladding

Roof – timber frame – timber racking - natural slate finish

Insulation – cellulose/sheeps wool/EPS in the flooring

Finishings – standard skim coat/reclaimed douglas fir flooring downstairs/ white deal tongue and groove flooring upstairs finished with Soap and Lye

Lakeland organic paint on walls


For the water Nilan Compact P Heat recovery unit with built in air to air heat pump. The air to air heat pump heats the water.

For the building Nilan Compact P Heat recovery unit with built in air to air heat pump. The heat recovery heats the water. 


rain water from the roof – 9000litre tank from Shay Murtagh with 3 stage mechanical filtration and UVlight for bacterial screening. 


Compost Recycling Refuse (this is minimal but still there – have not had time to really tackle that yet)


Existing orchard space has been preserved where possible with additional plantings over the years. The first thing we established was a shelter belt for our south facing field. I had envisioned this area as a permaculture based food forest. This has evolved into a Stefan Sobkowiak inspired permaculture orchard style planting. We are just in the process of erecting a large poly-tunnel within that area that will also house orchard fruit as well as the usual tomatoes, winter salads etc. This will hopefully add even more shelter.

Additional plantings around this area have been of nitrogen fixing trees and productive fruit bushes both wild and cultivated. 


Time scale of build:

Build took three years in a stop start fashion – still on going really. It could have been done in six months easily with a bigger budget but as I was trying to do jobs myself and moving between Dublin and Sligo things took a lot longer. 

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Yes I would have built bigger in the first place. Now I have a family with more children on the way and we need to start planning the extension.

I wouldn’t have used lime based paint. 

Satisfaction rating:  If you are asking do I feel satisfaction in the build and the site then yes. I have never been so happy to sit on my own couch J

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