Feature ‘Cottage Core’ – Irish Independent 8th October 2021

Extension to the Rear

The phase two of our Thatched Cottage building project was to fix the flow of the home as well as rebuild the bathroom, create a back door, an upstairs room and open up to the garden and the evening sun. Additionally in the thatched cottage part we relocated the kitchen and installed a doubled sided stove.

My cottage restoration project became my teacher. I learnt about the beauty & comfort of natural materials, building in phases and doing as much of the work I could myself for financial independence, and allowing the time for one step to inform the next which created the life lesson of ‘going with the flow’!

A cottage is usually the accumulated work of many generations often starting out as one room and a chimney, then growing into what you see now. So imagine your restoration project being the same – you don’t need to do everything at once, instead plan the general flow of the home and then take it step by step.

I started my thatched cottage project back in 2013. The first phase was learning about how
breathable natural materials are needed for the basic restoration / rehabilitation of stone cottages. Removing all of the cement, on the inside and outside, releases the entrapped moisture which is responsible for the mould. Then putting it back together again with breathable and natural materials throughout, the most important being the lime mortars, creates a comfortable dry second skin.

With a couple years of rest in between, the second phase was building an extension, again with natural breathable materials that would work with the stone cottage. These materials ranged from foam glass gravel, clay block construction, sheepswool & woodfibre board insulations, all of which carry out several functions.

Surprisingly my biggest lesson occurred amidst all the frustrating delays caused by inclement weather, workmen not being available, materials not turning up etc. – each time it became an opportunity to improve something which resulted in a better design, more efficiency and cost effective solutions. The lesson is contrary to the conventional ‘time is money’ instead ‘take your time and get it right’. The outcome is no mistakes, no regrets and a slowing down to a pace which allows the enjoyment of the simple things in life such as sitting under the apple trees and taking in the surrounding natural world.


Full Completion 2021