Derek Trenaman, who was let go from Murray O'Laoire Architects, is now using his hands more too, through buying and converting buildings and helping other people to project manage their building projects. "I am a 'trained carpenter and have a long history of building, because Ilearned from my father. I put new vigour intoold buildings and sell them on," says Trenaman who has built his own home in Dublin.
His next personal project is to transform a derelict cottage he bought in Sligo and create a zero-carbon home but he now also helps non-builders to update and add to their own homes.
"I train people to do their own self-building project," says Trenaman who does this by getting the client to be the main contractor and helping them to choose sub-contractors and to organise them.
"A lot of people are in professions where they are project managers and understand the process of commissioning," says Trenaman. "I take those skills and empower them to do it themselves. A lot of people want to do this but have a fear because they don't have the knowledge. I give them the knowledge."
"It only works for those who are passionate about building and are prepared to put in the time", says Trenaman, who is working with a solicitor and traffic engineer at the moment, to help them revamp their Dublin home and add an extension. "You have to be the type of person who will get up at 7am to insulate an attic", he says. He reckons those who take on such a project will (with his advice anyway) save around 40 per cent on a standard building cost.
Trenaman, whose company is called Ceardean, derived from the Irish word for artisan, has enjoyed the change from a desk architect to a self-employed architect, builder, project-manager and mentor. "I love physically building. It was always one frustration as a normal architect in a company; sitting at a desk when I love getting exercise."
"I think it's important that the architect isn't just an architect and the artist isn't just an artist. I think its better that somehow people come together and are driven by a uniformed source in the completion of a task so the work becomes multi-disciplined, which I think it adds to the fullness of it. It seems then that there is more language to the building, the whole structure and how projects are achieved. . .."
Straw bale houses are gaining popularity with the self-build community as they require little experience to construct and are cheap and fast to build. . .. Straw bale houses are high-maintenance buildings and a labour of love. Walls have to be lime-washed yearly and internal humidity has to be controlled. . .
The design task was to revive and extend the old cottage, which is part of a small end of terrace stable building in the centre of Inchicore village. . . The concept of the house was to create an external interior (exclosure) that would reclaim the existing character of the old cottage by building a metaphorical garden structure around the existing house. . .
Ceardean has just completed the self-build mentored renovation and extension of Alan and Aideen O’Brien’s terraced home in Marino, Dublin. The project involved the re-design of the interior, the creation of an internal courtyard and a new garden room extension to the rear. Ceardean provided full design and self-build mentoring services, dismantling the standard contractor lead project into smaller contracts and recompiling these subcontractors into a coordinated construction programme. . .