Northern Ireland property: Co Tyrone woman’s self build journey of stunning ‘forever farmhouse’

A Co Tyrone woman has shared a look inside her stunning self build home.

Alana Mullan, from Omagh, and her husband Shane firstly built their garage and converted it into a small bungalow while they built their dream property.

Their forever home, which they have now moved into, is located beside Shane’s farm and is ten minutes from Alana’s hometown..

Alanna told Be all about why they built their own home, @foreverfarmhouse17, and how long the process took.

She said: “As my husband is a farmer, it just makes sense for him to be closer to the farm, so building a house was really the only option for us. As an engineer myself, I had already dreamt of building my own home so I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to do so.

“The initial planning permission process was quite lengthy. From when we initially submitted our planning applications, it took around two years before we actually started building. Once the building started in May 2019, it took around 20 months until we moved in, in December 2020.

“The general layout of the house consists of a large open plan kitchen dining area, with a sunroom off this area. We have a utility room and downstairs bathroom just inside the back door and an entrance hallway, living room and study.

“Upstairs consists of four good-sized bedrooms, an ensuite, hot press, main bathroom and a nice open plan landing area.”

Alana has answered some questions and shared top tips for others on their self-build journey!

How did you feel about moving to the area?

I didn’t really pick the location as the farm is situated on an out-farm which Shane’s father bought years ago.

I was a little hesitate about moving to the countryside, having grew up in the town. But it’s a nice distance from the town and not far from the main road, so I guess it’s a happy medium for me. It definitely took a bit of adjusting when I first moved but I absolutely love it now and couldn’t imagine going back to the town.

Is there anything people don’t tell you about building your own home or things you wish you knew?

I loved the idea of designing the layout myself and deciding exactly where each room would be, but it’s more stressful than you’d think!

Honestly, the planning process is a lot more stressful than I thought it would be.

I definitely thought we would have a bit of an edge on self building given that I work as a contracts manager within the construction industry and Shane is a builder by trade, but the whole process was a constant learning curve.

We had a full bill of quantities done as an estimate before we started but it would definitely be realistic to allow at least another 25% on top of this for costs, as there will always be things that crop up and cause unforeseen expenses in the process!

What is your favourite room and why?

I think the kitchen dining area is definitely my favourite room. I definitely spend the most time in this part of the house and I wanted this part of the house to have such a homely and welcoming feel to it. I wanted to strike a balance between modern but incorporating some traditional elements – it is a farmhouse after all. Our cow prints on the wall are definitely one of my favourite features, and not forgetting the walk-in pantry which I couldn’t be without!

Where do you gain inspiration from and what are your top tips?

Once we started building I was trawling Pinterest for ideas and having a sister that’s an interior designer definitely helps!

My sister is co-owner of Dollybird Interiors in Omagh, so her expertise was so useful throughout the building process.

Simple things that you don’t think of, like window or door positions and how they might effect the furniture layouts in each room, etc.

What are the hardest things about building your own house?

We were a direct labour self build, meaning we didn’t have a contractor over seeing the build and instead we liaised directly with all the subcontractors ourselves.

This was definitely the most stressful part of the build, trying to coordinate all the different trades and keep everyone happy – whilst also trying not to lose sight of the end goal.

Do you have any top tips for those who feel daunted?

Do plenty of research! Get at least three priced quotes for everything and don’t take the tradesman’s word as gospel.

There are a lot of good honest tradesmen out there but some of them can be tricky to deal with too.

Sketch out your layout, then do it again and again until you’re sure it is the way you want it. You’ll only build it once!

Speak to other people who have built before and find out what they would do differently. Everyone will say something different!

Best things you feel about building your own home? Anything you would change?

We still have so much to finish inside and outside, I don’t think you’re ever really finished and there have definitely been times I’ve wished we could have just bought a turn key home.

But our home is so personal to us. I still remember my very first sketch of our layout when it all seemed like a distant dream. There is such a huge sense of achievement in building your own home and I guess in the long run you do get a little bit more for your money, size wise. But the self build process is definitely not for the faint hearted and I definitely wouldn’t be doing it again.

Have a look at Alana and Shane’s beautiful home in our gallery below.


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