Michaela and John James



Moved to Ireland from Wales in 2002 when John got work in Sligo. First moved to a house in Coolaney but then decided that, if they were to live in rural Ireland, then they wanted somewhere that really was rural with more land and space.

Found the site that they loved with a house that needed a lot of work. For a family of five it was not big enough and the house was quite dark and damp. They took the renovation on as a 'project' and worked on it as a family.

John is an engineer and so was very happy to take on all the work himself. They wanted to extend their home by bringing together an original barn and the house through an extension; also to bring in more light through a south facing sun room. They found the architect Thomas Flynn who they worked with to come up with the design they have today.


1834 stone cottage with a newly renovated barn and sun room extension.


Their three children had mixed feelings about the move but all eventually settled in and even helped with the renovation.

Whislt to some the idea of a full-time job followed by a evening of building work would not be appealing John was more than happy to do this.

It took them a long time to get their planning approved. The original design was turned down, which they are very sorry about. Thomas then altered the roof-line to suit planning and the building could then start mid-2008.

It took18 months for the build and renovation to be completed. Michaela insisted they had their xmas dinner in the new dining room in 2009 as she didn't want to wait another year. They had their formal 'house warming'  when it really was all complete, in July 2010


A complete self-build means that John and MIchaela know everything they need to know about their house and would be able to fix/update themselves as they need.

Geothermal heat pump installed by John kept the expenses down as well as saving on their heating in the long run.

Recycling of an old barn by bringing it into the main fabric of the building. All stome for the extension was from around their site.


Joining the barn to the house in a creative way. Bringing the two spaces together whilst at the same time keeping their individuality: the old barn is the adult, quiet space with master bedroom upstairs - wheras the house has been made bright and open with a fluid changeable space for the family.

A high level of finish in the new areas; well 'finished and furnished. It is however still a 'work in progress' with enough bits of work still to be done to keep John busy. 


Thomas Flynn




Foundation Original and concrete
Walls Original stone
Roof Original tiles on house, original slate on barn, new slate on sun room
 Finishings  Michaela's carefully chosed furniture and decor


Underfloor geothermal heating, oil fired central heating and log burning stoves.

Airtricity for electricity.


Well shared with two neighbours.


Septic tank


3 acres of land surrounding the house, small veg patch.


  • Very happy with house.
  • Haven't been put of building/renovating and are not averse to 'doing it again'!
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