Some of the Challenges Building a Home as New Parents

Self Build Advice2 - Pikalily BlogThe last two years have been a bit of a whirlwind period for us. Not only have we become parents for the first time, we’ve also undertaken a self-build project to build our new home. Indeed, the last 12 months feel like it has been a total blur and it’s a case of blink, and it’s almost Christmas again. As we continue to share more advice on our experience of building a new home, today we look at some of the challenges you may encounter, especially if you’re doing a self-build project as new parents.

Four Self Build Challenges

1. Dragging Yourself Away From the Build

The hardest thing about doing a self-build as new parents is finding some free time to take yourself away from the build. You quickly find that your life becomes consumed by the baby, the house and then your job, leaving very little time for anything else. This can mean long nights, very little sleep, and sometimes arguments over the smallest things. We did think at one point we’d have to call for the family law solicitors but if you set aside time to escape from the self-build (even if it’s for 10 minutes), you’ll find it can be a big help.

2 Changing the Conversation

Self Build Advice1 - Pikalily Blog

We found over the last year that almost every evening was spent discussing elements of our house. While this is important during the build process as you want to ensure you have everything the way you want, it’s also important to find a way to change the topic from your build to literally anything else. We tried to get into a routine of watching box sets as this provided some respite from the conversation around our home. There’s a time and a place to talk about the colour of paint or fixtures for your bathroom, and 10pm on a Thursday night is not that time! 🙂

3. Spending Time Alone

Nial and Helen Toner - Pikalily Food Blog

With so much time over the last two years spent with Lewis and building our home, it’s been hard to find some time to spend together and have a date night, or even date lunch. Not that this is a bad thing as we love spending time as a family and have enjoyed our self-build experience, but if you are planning a self-build as new parents, try to set aside some time at least once a month to just relax together. This could be to go to the cinema, head out for lunch or dinner or even simply go for a stroll together. Clear your thoughts and get back to your build.

4. Managing Your Budget

Another challenge when it comes to doing a self-build project is managing your budget. If like us, dealing with contractors and builders yards is something you’re not overly familiar with, it can be a pretty daunting experience managing your budget. We were very fortunate to have a great main contractor that made the build process relatively easy for us. We did have a number of jobs to do ourselves including a good portion of the second fix (this was through our own choice). This meant ordering lots of materials and dealing with the deliveries, vat receipts and delivery dockets.

Self Build Advice - Pikalily Blog

This can quickly pile up, especially if you’re ordering something on an almost daily basis. Our biggest advice here is to get organised. Get a folder for everything that you order and start an Excel spreadsheet keeping tabs of all payments. Not only will this be good when it comes to claiming back your Vat, it will also help you stay on top of your overall budget, ensuring you don’t go over by too much – because you will go over budget, no matter how hard you try 🙂

Embrace the Challenge

When it comes to a self-build project, especially if you are new parents, our biggest piece of advice is to embrace the challenge. Good communication is vital throughout. This means good communication with your partner, with family, with friends and with your workers. Embrace the challenges and look forward to building your dream home, and your forever home.

As ever, if you are planning a self-build and would like any advice, no matter how large or small, please get in touch.

Until next time, happy building.

Helen, Nial and Lewis.


Welcome to Pikalily, an award-winning food, travel and lifestyle blog. We are Nial and Helen, a happily married couple from Northern Ireland, who share a passion for food and travel among many things. We became parents to our beautiful boy Lewis in 2017. Follow our adventures through the blog.

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