Gerry Gleeson - Dream Homes

We Design & Manage the Construction of Self Build Family Homes

Septic Tanks the Need to Knows

With the saturated ground conditions at present, we are receiving a lot of queries regarding Septic Tanks and problems with the whole system.
It is surprising how many homeowners know very little about the Waste Water disposal system that keeps their homes going.

There are a range of systems out there and I would not blame homeowners for not understanding all the details of Waste Water Systems and this is due to the Septic Tank and Percolation area of building your own home is an area that would be last on the list of things to be constructed before moving into their own Self Build home.

I am afraid that when it comes to a choice between a brand new kitchen from Country Kitchens or a Septic Tank at the end of your garden; the kitchen wins every time and very often the JCB Man both designs and installs how the Waste Water Disposal System will go in.

A lot of times what appears on your Planning Application is not what goes into the ground.

All of our Client questions that we receive are directed to our Engineer that we use, Pat Gamble of Professional site Solutions.
Pat is a recognised expert in the area of Waste Water Disposal Systems, Septic Tanks and our port of call to help our Clients achieve a good Disposal System that will work efficiently for years to come in your Dream Home.

When it comes to Septic Tanks, Secondary Waste Water Systems, Percolation Areas, Sand Filters etc. Contact Pat here.

On a recent visit to Kildare County Council offices in Naas Co. Kildare, I picked up these two leaflets which are well presented and full of good informative advice. The first one is titled “Waste Water Systems for Building a House” this goes into details and issues relating to applying for Planning Permission which is required for every new Septic Tank.


The second leaflet deals with “Have you Completed a Septic Tank Check?” and deals with the maintenance of your Waste Water System in order to protect your health and local Environment. It is a very detailed leaflet and answers frequently asked questions such as:

• What is the difference between a Septic Tank System and a packages Treatment System?
• What are my responsibilities as a homeowner?
• What is the sludge in the system?
• Why do I need to remove the sludge from my Septic Tank?
• How often should I remove the sludge from my System?
• Who can remove the sludge from your System?
Have a look through this leaflet and if you do not find the answer to your question then try the EPA’s website on Septic Tanks or of course, you can contact us to request our views on the topic.

Self-Building? You Need To Know This!

The Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 became law in Ireland in 2013. These regulations intend to reduce the number of people who are injured and even killed while carrying out construction work. They are implemented by the Health and Safety Authority who has published a helpful guide for homeowners to help you to understand your responsibilities under these regulations.

What Type of Work Is Covered

If you are thinking about extending, renovating or building your home then it’s important that you read this guide and are aware of your responsibilities. The type of work covered by the regulations is:

  • Building a new house or an extension, porch or garage,
  • Converting your attic,
  • Refitting your kitchen,
  • Re-slating your roof,
  • Fitting solar panels or a skylight,
  • Re-wiring your house.

Checking Competency

The HAS explains that anybody you use to carry out design work, such as drawing up plans for your house or use to complete the construction work must be competent to carry out the work. To help you do this, there is a checklist at the back of the guide that you can use to help you to establish their competency.

Safe Place to Work

Your responsibility as the homeowner is that you must make sure that the work can be carried out in a safe manner. This means that you have to ensure that the site or the place that these workers are working is a safe work place. These workers must also demonstrate to you that they have allocated enough time and resources to the safety standards outlined in the regulations. Not only do workers need to make sure that they’ll work to keep themselves and their fellow worker’s safe while on site, but that they also consider the health and safety or anyone near the site.

Project Manager

You have to appoint a project supervisor or supervisors if the work involves a particular risk, then you have to appoint a competent project supervisor. You can fulfill this role yourself if you can demonstrate that you have the skills and experience to complete the duties involved. If you can’t do this, then you have to appoint someone to do this role

 These project supervisors need to oversee and coordinate safety on site. They also coordinate the work of designers and contractors and make sure that the work is completed safely. When works are being done in or near your home, you need to make sure that this work doesn’t put you and your family at risk.

Safety File

You or your project manager needs to keep a safety file for inspection.  If you’re extending or renovating a building then you’ll be adding to an existing file with new documents as work is completed. If the project is a new build, then you’ll be starting the safety file from scratch, and so you need to collect documents as the project develops.


Under these regulations, you have a responsibility to notify the Health and Safety Authority if the construction work is planned to last longer than 30 working days or if the volume of work is scheduled to exceed 500 person days. This is calculated as 50 people working for a ten-day period, 25 people working for 20 days each or one person working for 500 days.

So, as you can see, there are some important requirements to consider when you are using construction workers to extend, renovate or build your home. Make sure you read the HSA guide and then take to use. And when you use our services, we make sure your project complies with all the regulations associated with building your dream home. Contact us today to find out more.

Designing Your Dream Home

If you are thinking about self-building your own home, then you need to be open to new design possibilities. When you’re designing your dream home, getting the design right is essential.   We understand how important it is to get the design process right. This means that you get your dream home and not just an ordinary house. You probably haven’t worked with an Architect before or designed a house so knowing how to get started can make a huge difference to the home you end up with. This post will help you to get the most from working with an Architect.

People Want What They Know, But Don’t Always Know What They Want

There is a saying that I heard from an elderly Architect friend, Brian Kelly (now deceased RIP) which has influenced my approach to home design ever since. Brian told me that people want what they know, but don’t always know what they want. When he saw my confusion he when on to explain what he meant.

He said that if you imagine living on an island that had only three types of cars, and then when you went to buy a car you would naturally choose one of these three car types. This is because these are the types of cars that you know.

Gerry Gleeson Designing A Dream Home

Then imagine one day a ship arrived and brought three totally different types of cars to the island. Now all of a sudden you have six types of cars to choose from. It’s likely that you might still select one of the types you already know. And that’s alright, However, having seen these new types of cars, you might decide to pick one of these. If this happens then you realise you didn’t actually know what you wanted.

When it comes to designing your dream home it’s our job to take you on a journey and to introduce you to all of the possibilities. Once you know what choices are available to you, then you can make an informed choice. The stories below are the best way to explain the process to you. So read on!

Gareth and Lorraine 

Gareth and Lorraine live in Clane, Co. Kildare and contacted me to discuss an extension to their home. When I arrived at their home we had the obligatory cup of tea and a chat which is very important.

Lorraine produced a set of plans which they had drawn up by a friend of Gareth’s but who was no longer involved in the project. The plans in themselves were fine and followed what Lorraine said she wanted, which was a flat roof extension with large glass panes which gave the space a very clinical look.

At that stage, the easiest thing for me to do would be to take their existing plans, re-draw them, lodge the Planning Application and collect the fees. However, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I brought them on a journey to consider other possibilities.

The basic space requirements were tweaked a little but the real change occurred at roof level. I introduced them to the idea of an interesting vaulted pitched roof and the rest is history.

From the flat ceiling of the kitchen area within the existing house, you walk into the cavernous, spacious sitting room area with full height glass up to the point of the roof on both sides coupled with 2.4m (8 foot) high sliding doors. Planning was secured and work on site is progressing for happy excited Clients.

Emma and Eoin

I met Emma and baby Lilly at her parents’ house outside Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow. Emma had a set of plans that were drawn up some years previously by a man who was no longer in practice. The plans were for a basic bungalow with a standard pitch roof.  I was commissioned to re-draw the plans, make some internal changes and to lodge the planning permission application.

We arranged to meet at Emma’s rented home where I met Eoin for the first time. Over the “cup of tea” I learned that Emma and Eoin had met in college in Carlow. After College Emma taught sailing in the Caribbean and Eoin worked as a tour guide in South America and on the Silk Road to China.

Matching the Design With The Family

Here were two very interesting characters and I was determined they would not going to have a rectangular house. The Clients were fantastic. The site was amazing with panoramic views over Wicklow and Kildare. So the design had also to be special.

While discussing the floor area, I  explained that to get the maximum amount of floor area for the minimum amount of external wall then they should build a round house. I followed this with by asking, “but who would want to live in a round house?” Emma’s eyes immediately turned to Eoin and she said: “We would!” From that point, the journey began.

The concept for the final design is for a kitchen/dining/sitting area with a vaulted roof and bedroom wings to each side. Externally, because of its rural, elevated location, the design reflects the agricultural form. We chose a centre section which reflects a hay barn with two no lean to roof design over the adjoining bedroom blocks.

Planning permission for this house was recently lodged with Kildare County Council and we’ll post progress as it happens. It will give me immense pleasure to see Emma, Eoin and Lilly move into their new home. I am looking forward to – “the cuppa!”.

From Idea to Ideal Design


Designing Your Dream Home

When I first meet Clients, it’s very helpful if they have clippings from magazines, rough sketches, photographs. Equally, working on a blank canvas can be really helpful. Either way, it is my job to work with you to achieve your Dream Home. A home that you are happy with and which will be allowed by the Planning Authorities in your local area.

Our journey to working with our Clients always starts with their wish list. We visit your site, meet you in your home, have a chat and of course, have a cup of tea!

Take a look at our gallery page to see some of the homes we have designed. And when you’re ready to take the next step, then contact us today and arrange a consultation and we’ll meet up for a chat and a cuppa!

Self-Building Your Home – A Guide to Getting Started

Gerry Gleeson - Self Building your home, a guide to getting started

If you’re looking for information on getting started with your self-build project, then you are in the right place. With 40 years’ experience of building great family homes, we understand that this is a very exciting time. We also understand that it can also be a bit overwhelming. Read on for some practical advice on getting started on your own self-build project.

Getting Started – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

If you were to survey some people who have undertaken the self-build process, it’s likely that you’d get very different answers. Some would tell you that it was the best thing that they have ever done. Others would tell you it was the worst thing they did. This is because there is so much involved in self-building your own home. And it’s likely that you will have had little or no experience of doing anything like this before.

Not only are you undertaking a huge project, you also need to manage a large budget. This can be difficult when there are a lot of demands being made on your money. You also need to work closely with and rely on a team of professionals. You need to be able to trust that they’ll be able to get you through the process and deliver your dream home for you.

So, how do you get started? From our experience of working with families and individuals on their self-build projects, we believe that the following advice will stand you in good stead and will set you on the road to successfully self-build your own dream home.

Know Your Budget

Self-building your own home is possibly the largest financial investment you will make. You need to make your budget work for you. It needs to get you the home you want, all while you avoid overspending. With that in mind, the first piece of advice to getting started with your self-build is to know your budget and absolutely stick to it.

When you get loan approval, it can be very exciting. It can be tempting to focus on the finishes and overlook the costs involved in the more practical items, but essential aspects of building a new house, like the cost to clear your site.

Get Focused

At first, it may seem that you have plenty of money to spend on all the fancy gadgets you see in magazines and on design websites. However, it’s important to remember that this money needs to cover everything necessary to complete your home. Over the years, I’ve seen people agree to extras suggested by contractors or friends and family, that were way outside the original budget. Some people have even taken out high-interest loans or maxed out credit cards to fund these new additions.

While you’re just getting started now, remember when people make suggestions, and before you agree to anything, be clear they’re what you really want. And make sure that you can afford them before you agree and sign anything. No matter how much other people think something is a great idea if it’s not in your budget, then say no.

Don’t worry about hurting their feelings. It’s your home and your money. People’s input can be great to help you make the right decisions at the planning and design stage. However, if their suggestions are outside your budget, then it might be something you can add at a later stage.

Get Involved

On average, the entire self-build process can take about two years to complete. It’s for this reason that it’s important that you are comfortable working with your agent. You need to feel confident that they are up to the job. Never be afraid to ask to see examples of projects they have completed.

This is something we welcome and encourage our clients to do. We have even included testimonials from some of our previous clients on our website. We also recommend that our new clients make contact with and ask our previous clients questions about how they found working with us.

Ask Questions

You are going to learn a lot about the self-build process when you are building your own home. And there is no better way to learn than by asking questions. You shouldn’t feel that you better not ask that questions, that your agent might think that you’re stupid! It is your money and your home. So if someone doesn’t answer your question, in a way you can understand, then it is likely that they don’t know or understand themselves!

Now you’re ready to take the next step. Check out our blog section for more information and advice on other aspects of the self-build process. And best of luck!

Gerry Gleeson Dream Homes Free Guide To Unlocking Your Own Dream Home



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We Welcome the Construction Industry Register of Ireland

Construction Industry Register of Ireland

On June 5th, 2017, the Irish government announced that it has approved the drafting and publication of the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2017. The purpose of this bill is to make it mandatory for building firms to join the Construction Industry Register of Ireland (CIRI).

The CIRI register was set up three years ago by Construction Industry Federation (CIF) and it aims to make it easy for people to identify reputable and competent building firms.

What’s In Place Now

The CIRI register is an online register of builders, contractors and tradespeople. The register currently works on a voluntary basis, but the new legislation will see registration become mandatory. This development is long overdue and ought to be welcomed by the construction industry.

The Housing and Planning Minister, Simon Covey, said that CIRI is an essential measure to provide consumers with protection for their build. It will give consumers assurance that they are dealing with competent and compliant contractors. And that can only be a good thing for the construction industry as a whole.

Rebuilding Public Confidence

The construction industry is working hard to restore customer confidence since the economic collapse of the last decade. The CIRI will go a long way to help restore the public’s faith in the ability of builders and contractors. And the public need to know that the contractor used to complete their building project is up to the job.

As CIF Director Herbert Fitzpatrick said, the register will be effective in restoring public trust, only if it’s a mandatory statutory register. He says that continuing a voluntary register would be a mistake because non-registered contractors would continue to operate in the market. They undercut registered contractors and create an unlevel playing field.

The Need For Legislation

In recent years various trades introduced registers which helped to improve and standardise them.  Under the terms of the CIRI, contractors will only be able to work in areas they show experience in. And then contractors will only be able to register to provide these services. Applicants will have to provide details of at least three projects they have recently completed. These projects have to demonstrate their construction experience. You only have to think of the situation in the Priory Hall complex to see the effects poor construction has on residents.

For the construction industry to successfully grow, then people need to be able to trust that builders are competent and experienced to complete their building work. Building projects are major financial undertakings and can be very stressful for the homeowner. This register will help take at least some of the stress out of the process. It will make it clear the builder they’re using is up to the job.

Talk To Us

If you are looking at building or extending your home, then take a look at some of our previous projects. You can contact us here and arrange a consultation today.