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Intergenerational living in Ballyheather

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Restoring and adding space in Tyrone

Shane Birney of Shane Birney Architects was handed a brief to create a modern family home by restoring an existing farmhouse as well as adding a new and spacious rear wing which would connect to an outdoor space and allow strong relationships with the existing outbuildings.

The design of the rear addition to the house was to be lightweight with the elements of transparency and lucidity juxtaposing with the solidity of the original dwelling and retaining the house’s architectural integrity.

This project was for a retired couple returning to the area to live with their brother in their family home in Ballyheather in County Tyrone.

Here Mr Birney talks to us about the project.

“This house was built in the 1800’s and many generations of the family had lived in the house. The couple that asked me to work on the house were living in Belfast and they retired and decided that they wanted to live with their brother who lives in the house. This house is about intergenerational living and there are now a few families living there together,” said Shane Birney.

“The clients didn’t want to give up their family home or farmland so they came back to reinstate the property to its former glory and bring it up to date with the 21st Century. They were also keen for the house to be passed on to family when the time comes so as many other generations can live in the house.

“All that was left of the existing farmhouse were three outside walls because the roof came off, the floor came off, the back of the house came off. We really demolished everything inside and built it from the foundations back up again,” added Mr Birney.

“We were really keen to maintain the feel of the existing house but obviously we put insulation in the walls and floors as well as installing a new roof and windows. We added a timber structure to the house and that was done because we were trying to re-work a working family farmhouse and how people enter the house at the back whilst living together,” he enthused.

In terms of the layout of the house when you enter through the front door there is a traditional good room on the right hand side of the house and the dining room is on the left hand side. The kitchen is straight down the hall. Bedrooms and bathrooms are located upstairs. There is also a utility room and a shower room at the back of the house.

Work began on this property in 2016 and it concluded in 2017. “The project went smoothly enough but the difficulty with these kinds of projects is that the rear extension is built to passive design as well as it being open plan and we were also trying to amalgamate the old house with this extension; they wanted to use an Aga cooker so we were also trying to get the balance of the heating system right which took a bit of tinkering,” explained Shane.

“It’s a beautiful property and I’m happy with how it turned out. It is always nice to see something reinvigorated! It’s nice to work on new buildings but it is lovely to be able to work on older buildings and with a family that have a love of the history of the house,” concluded Shane Birney.