Planning Permission Continued - Rural Design.

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Contemporary Home In Rural Kerry, Nearing Completion. Photo Gallery Will Be Uploaded Soon !

Rural Design Advice for individual houses in rural locations

When you are next driving in the country side, observe the various house types and designs. Those with boundary walls fronting the house; or those that have retained the boundary ditch, except for the construction of the site entrance.

When designing a house, there are a number of considerations, but the basic principles are: to select a site that will absorb a correctly designed house that meets the final occupiers needs and that will nestle into the landscape on which it sits, while maintaining the existing landscaping, where possible. This should be supplemented with additional shrubs, trees, etc.

The below points will touch on the considerations in achieving a satisfactory functional house design and planning permission from the local authority.

Site Selection:

If the site selection is not right, even a well-designed house will not work in that location. The general rules are to avoid exposed hilltops and low lying areas that would be subject to flooding. Ideally, a site within a hill that can be contained into the landscape is the best fit, a site with natural shelter is ideal. It is worth remembering, that whatever you can see from the site, then the site can be seen from there also. Visual impact is an important point to consider.

Size wise, the minimum requirement for planning permission is 0.5acres. However, we would recommend 0.75acres as percolation areas are getting bigger and it is best to future proof for any extensions, such as shed or garage.

Site Orientation:

We at Sugrue Design always like to design the house to follow the sun path; research has proven that energy savings of up to 30% can be achieved. It all helps in the energy efficiency department. In Ireland, we usually get the weather from the south-west; therefore we like to provide shelter on this side from the prevailing winds. It is important to note that a house does not necessarily have to face the road. The proposed house should also be arranged to respect the privacy of neighbours and to avoid over-looking.

The Site:

The intended house on the site should be of an appropriate scale that suits the size of the site. Also, consideration will need to be given to the scale of development in relation to neighbouring properties. Generally, a house will need to be set back from the edge of the road by at least 20m, but depends on the category of road. This allows for planting, landscaping, etc to the front of the house to aid in the reduction of the visual impact.

If you are building on a sloping site, this should not be seen as a negative. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop an innovated house design that works with the land. In the simplest case, it could mean a split level house. In a more extreme scenario, it could be a two storey house on one side, while been single storey to the other. The house is cut into the hill and blends more successfully with the landscape.

Building Form and Proportion:

Local authorities will generally call for new houses in the countryside to be of simple traditional forms. In past times, houses had long frontage and narrow plans, this all helped with the scale and proportions. To achieve a successful design, it is important to draw inspiration from the past, but with a contemporary twist to suit the requirements of modern living. This can be achieved by breaking down the footprint of the building into smaller elements, even say blocks and then linking them together. This will help to reduce the overall scale and massing of the house and can give a more interesting built form.

The House:

The aim of the house design is to achieve a successful grant of planning and to provide a house the works for the owners, in terms of function and form. Some of the main points are:

  • wide frontage and narrow plan;

  • front elevation to be generally flat;

  • building materials to be locally sourced;

  • colours should generally be neutral in tone;

  • chimneys should ideally come up on the ridge;

  • windows and openings should in general have vertical emphasis;

  • roofs should be simple in design with a consistent pitch;

  • avoid overly elaborate eaves detailing;

Dormers windows are generally not for consideration. Roof-lights are the preferred option and the added bonus is - they leave in a lot more light. Windows that extends from the wall are more of a storey and a half type house and works better in terms of proportions.

The front door is a very important element to the house. A porch is a useful element as it acts as a buffer to the main house, therefore helping with the energy efficiency. Again it should be simple in form and designed as part of the overall house and not seen as an after-thought. Porches can be external or can be incorporated internally.

Any sun rooms, garages or the like should work in harmony with the overall design. These elements should be subservient to the main building. Ideally should be constructed in similar material and located either to the side or rear of the house.

We at Sugrue Design have vast knowledge and experience in successfully designing houses for rural locations and getting them through the planning system. We would be happy to sit down to discuss your project further and show you some of our many completed project.

Feel free to contact James on 087 8328945 or email

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