Let The Light In

Most Irish homes were built in the last century, with low ceilings and close walls. Because these confined spaces with low ceilings and small windows are so ‘normal’ to us, we often don’t notice how they can affect us. A new build or renovation, if it’s carried out using modern design principles, can profoundly change your experience.  

Let the Light In

There have been many insights made in the last decade around how a building’s shape can shape our mood. If you are renovating your home today, you have an opportunity to experience something new. In the past, windows were a huge source of heat loss, and the technology wasn’t there to produce large glass panes. Today, glass can be produced with much larger dimensions and with excellent insulation. When these modern, large windows are well-placed, with consideration to sunlight at different times of the day and different seasons of the year, you can allow much more light and natural heat into your home and into your life. 

The visceral experience you feel when stepping into your newly renovated home, illuminated naturally through modern renovation principles. We check in with our clients after they’ve settled into their new home, and we often hear comments about how the sense of light, open space and the comfortable temperature has transformed their mood. The difference is like night and day.

Step Into a Happier, Healthier, Home

Architectural design and materials have progressed massively in recent decades. Today, there is far more understanding of the health impacts of different materials and designs. From heating and humidity to ventilation. For example, we know today that many buildings and materials render their occupants susceptible to all sorts of invisible health issues. Many older buildings having poor air quality, with high levels of carbon dioxide, moulds and toxins. These can aggravate or cause a range of health issues best expressed in the term, “sick building syndrome”.  Thankfully, today we have the understanding and the means to create living spaces that better support our health. 

Take a Breath Of Fresh Air

Draughts are a problem in a traditional home. We’ve all felt that finger of icy air that creeps into our muscles and bones, causing stiff necks and shoulders, tension and pain. We try to fend it off with thick layers in winter and heating at full blast. And because the heating takes a lot longer to reach a comfortable than it does to drop when we open a window, we often feel reluctant to open up our windows for too long. It’s because of this that a draughty home can hurt our health. Because we’re always fending off the cold, we don’t allow in enough fresh air. This means that the air tends to have a higher level of Co2, with elevated levels of trace toxins. In this way, many of us unwittingly live our lives in a sea of stale air that subdues our senses and hurts our health.

With an architect who takes these things into consideration, you can escape the dreaded draught. And with heat exchange technology, it’s possible to expel from your home all that stale air, all of those toxins, and pump in fresh, healthy air in its stead — all without loss of heat or the slightest draught. Just a cosy ambient temperature, allowing natural sunlight and optimal health.

New Build vs Renovation

A new build offers different opportunities and challenges compared with a home renovation. Here are a few advantages, disadvantages, and things to consider in between when approaching new builds.

The advantages of a renovation

While the clearest advantage of a new build is freedom, it also means you may be starting completely from scratch, which can include planning permission and other legal barriers. You will be choosing everything from your location to your layout and building materials. When you are doing a home renovation, many of the planning matters are often already dealt with, and so you can focus on how you’d like your home to feel, from the space down to the fixtures and fittings, all to suit your needs and your tastes. Depending on the type of renovation you have in mind, you may be able to upgrade insulation with or add an extension with modern materials, with the right materials you can also enjoy lower running costs. And while the initial costs are significant, at least you can expect not to spend on redecorating or repairs for a few years.

The disadvantages of a new build

As with any construction (or home renovation) project, one of the greatest risks is who you hire to do the job. Unfortunately for consumers in Ireland, the supply does not meet demand. Because of huge demand, contractors do not have to provide exceptional quality or service. They simply have to show up. It’s essential to do your due diligence. Check forums, online reviews, and Facebook. Try to find contractors who have a proven track record. Be wary of relying solely on word-of-mouth referrals. One person might have had a great experience with a contractor on a kitchen redesign, but that doesn’t mean they’re able to meet your requirements for your project.

When you have a developer in mind for a new build or renovation, it’s no harm in visiting their previous builds so you can at least get some idea of the quality. You can’t rely solely on what a developer says they’re able to do (or even when they recommend another developer). Go to the people on the receiving end. They are the ones who can answer your questions.  

Speak to former customers

At Sigma, we have built a growing base of happy clients around Cork.

new build


Some happy clients have been kind enough to leave a builders review

“Overall I found Sigma Homes very very good to deal with, they have been very approachable, they are a nice bunch of lads and we will actually miss them. We will miss working with them.”
Kieran Donnelly

You know you’re doing something right working on-site in someone’s home when they actually say they’ll miss having you around! Of course, we can’t promise zero friction. But it’s what we aim for. We’re in a situation in Ireland where it’s easy for contractors to offer average quality and poor service simply because of massive demand and poor expectations. We don’t think that’s fair — and there’s no pride in that. That’s why we decided to take things in a different direction and every day we can finish up for the day feeling proud of the work we’re doing for our clients.

If you’d like to discuss a renovation, or any other project, feel free to give us a call on 021 2348 095

Why Hire An Architect?

“Why hire an architect” is often a question that arises at those early stages of a renovation or new build. Perhaps you’ve got the basics of the plan. You can see what you need, and you already have some great ideas for the finishes. You have all these ideas laid out, and on paper, it looks clear as day. You want to keep the costs down, and you’re looking for ways to do that. This is one of the critical points in a project where if you’re not careful, things can go awry. We spent years identifying what is wrong (and occasionally right) with the building industry and coming up with solutions. Here are a few thoughts to help you decide what’s best for your project.

“Why hire an architect when we’ve made it this far ourselves”?

why hire an architect?

When you’re looking at a new build or renovation at the initial stages, it’s deceptively straightforward. Even for people who have been in the industry for years, it’s easy to view the plan as a checklist of items and think, “that just needs these traders, these suppliers, these fixtures — and I can organise them myself and find the cheapest options”. 

But thinking about a project and being in the thick of managing a project are two different animals.  Counterintuitively, the most expensive problems often arise because we are trying to reduce costs at the expense of quality and management.  The problem arises because it’s easy to get a “Yes” from traders and suppliers in the planning stages. They want the work, and they’ll often say they have the skill to complete your project to standard, even if they’re not completely familiar with a technology, design or approach. Recommendations can sometimes be misleading. A trader may have delivered a great office extension for your parents, but does that mean they have the skill and knowledge for your project?

Why Hire an Architect? Because Trying To Cut Costs In A Complex Process Can Lead to Greater Expense — And Disappointment

Shopping around, you can find traders who will get each individual job done. But problems arise when you need traders on-site at a specific time. Each trader is their own business, and as you know, out of fear of losing out, they are often running more jobs at a time than they can handle — often with little care for how that affects their customer’s lives. A three-month project can quickly become an eight-month project when you’re unable to begin the next stage till a certain task is completed. Maybe you’re relying on the roofing and air-tightness to be resolved before you can consider electrics. Then you find out that the roofers missed something because they weren’t in communication with the air-tightness guys or didn’t know about the latest specifications, so now that’s delayed too, because they had another job lined up so it’ll be three weeks before they can come back to you. And now you’re stuck for another six weeks because the airtightness needs to be completed before you can even think about plastering. And the problems, delays, and stress, can cascade until a seemingly ‘simple’ four-month project becomes a nine-month tragedy of errors. This can be tough when you’re waiting on a new home, but when it’s a house extension and you find yourself living on a construction site, it can be a nightmare.

So, why hire an architect, or specifically a build manager?

Because they will be able to avoid many of the issues that arise in this scenario. A good architect and/or site manager will know and anticipate the issues before they arise. They may have their own contractors who they can recommend for the task at hand and will help keep things moving.

At Sigma Homes, we provide a one-stop solution for all of these issues, and more…
We have studied the problems of the building industry in search of innovative solutions. We’ve examined where the bottlenecks occur and how unplanned costs arise. Using modern approaches, standards and “design thinking” techniques, we have streamlined the entire process with a focus on you, our client’s needs. Whether you have a design already laid out or you need help from the very beginning, we will come to you as one team. We put you first. We aim to reduce your costs, reduce disruptions and keep timelines to the absolute minimum. We keep everything clearly defined and on paper from day one so that there are no unpleasant surprises. Our team can help you from the very beginning, to conceive or refine your plans and ensure they’re to spec, and our builders and traders will bring what you want to completion with minimal interruptions, to standard, using the best materials, modern styles and finishes. So that you enjoy exceptional service and exceptional results.

If you’d like more clarity on your own project, we’ll be happy to talk. Call us today on 021 2348095.

Choosing a Builder: 4 Important Tips to Consider

Choosing a builder can be tricky. We’ve all heard stories or had bad experiences with contractors. As builders in Cork working in the industry, we’ve had our fair share of encounters and experiences. We’ve seen time and time again how the wrong builder for the job can cost you time, money and peace of mind. Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a builder.

How to Choose a Builder: Seek Out Reviews

Whether referrals, recommendations, testimonials or reviews, make sure that the builder has some sort of evidence of previous work for you to go by. When you get an in-person recommendation for a family member or friend, be sure and compare the scope of your own project. Check the reviews for comparable projects so that you know you’re comparing like with like.

Choosing The Best Builder for the Project

Some builders can be excellent at a specific type of project, whether an extension or kitchen, but they may lack the skill or experience for larger builds, they

choosing a builder cork

 might not have the experience or finesse to get it done to your exact specifications.  If you can, ask if you can inspect the builder’s finished projects and pay special attention to the finer details and finishes. The proof is in the pudding, but the devil is in the details.

Check The Builder’s Skills and Experience

We’ve heard some horror stories. carpenters selling themselves as building managers and costing time and money and creating unnecessary stress for clients. Always check that the builder is fully insured. When hiring a project manager, be sure they know their craft. A skilled and experienced project manager will be able to read plans and communicate clearly. Do they listen to your questions, ideas and suggestions? How open are they to your ideas?

Clarify All Aspects of the Contract

Ensure that everything is clear and written on paper before hiring. For example, if it’s a new build, who will do the finishes such as plumbing and electrical services, piping and cabling. Also consider plastering, cabinets, sinks, fixtures, tiling and appliances?  What are the specific deliverables? Are they offering any guarantees? What is the agreed procedure for changes? It’s best to have everything clearly laid out so that both parties are on the same page.

We hope this was helpful. If you have any further questions or you’re just seeking clarity, feel free to give us a call today on  021-2348095. If you’re seeking a builder, please check out our testimonials page. We’re proud to be recognised as the 2018 Cork builder of the year.


3 Benefits Of Building A Passive House

3 Benefits Of Building A Passive HouseIf you have been looking into building a new home and carrying out some research to get a better understanding of what you are looking for, then you will have almost certainly come across the term passive house. Passive homes are built to an extremely high standard in a bid to make them take as little energy as possible to heat them in winter and cool them in the summer. Here are just 3 of the benefits of building a passive house in Ireland.

1: Big Savings On Energy Bills

Passive houses are designed from day one to be energy efficient and they utilise extremely high-quality components that are purpose-built for the same reason. For example, a passive house window can actually reduce heat loss by over 70% when it’s compared to a double glazed window. Combining this with the high-quality insulation that is used in the walls means that it only takes a very small amount of heating in the winter or cooling in the summer to maintain comfortable temperatures in your home. The amazing heat retention capabilities of passive homes are just the start, if you add solar panels to your home then you could be making huge energy savings in your home for many years to come.

2: Good For Your Health

As passive homes are virtually sealed shut, to meet the strict standards, they have advanced ventilation systems installed. These ventilation systems work 24 hours a day to bring in a supply of fresh air while simultaneously removing pollutants, toxins and odours before they reach unhealthy levels. The air in your home is fresh all day every day without having to extend any effort on your part. These ventilation systems also filter out pollen from outside which can be a huge bonus for anyone who suffers from hayfever.

3 Benefits Of Building A Passive House Donnelly house3: Peace & Quiet

One of the most underrated benefits of building a passive house is how quiet they are when you are relaxing inside. The level of insulation is so high that it greatly reduces the noises that come in from outside and make it possible to enjoy peace and quiet in your home. This is especially true when your home is in an urban area or next to a busy road and can greatly increase your enjoyment of your home.

There are so many reasons to build a passive home when building a new home for your family. You make big savings on heating bills, the constant flow of fresh air and filtration of toxins can be good for your health and you can relax peacefully in your home even when you’re living in a busy and noisy area. Thinking about building a passive house? Book a consultation with Sigma Homes today!

4 Things To Consider When Building A New Home

4 Things To Consider When Building A New HomeIf you have come to the decision that it’s time to build your own house from the ground up, it can seem like a daunting task. There are so many steps and decisions laid out in front of you that are crucial in determining how you want to spend your time living in your new home and how it can work with you to complement your lifestyle. Here are 4 things to consider when building a new home.

1: What Are The Key Features You Need?

Every home, just like every person, is different. Arriving to your first meeting with your builder/architect armed with a comprehensive list of the key features you require of your new build is a great way to get off to the best possible start. Maybe you need a drive in garage with enough space for a 4×4, an open plan kitchen and a home theatre room. Communicating these ideas early on will generally speed up the build as there will be less back and forth on design changes.

2: Furniture/Cabinet Placement

To make the most of your property you should be thinking about where you plan on placing all of the furniture and cabinets in your home right from the initial design. Think about how you plan on living in your home and if there is really enough space to include the furniture you want. If you think there won’t be enough room, you can always discuss it with your architect and use their experience to help you come up with the best solution.

4 Things To Consider When Building A New Home - floor plan3: Builder’s Reputation

The design and build team you choose for your project will have a huge bearing on your overall success and satisfaction with the build. Your dream home is in their hands, so you should always be sure that they have a good track record of completing new builds on time and on budget, and that they are easy to contact and communicate with. Typing the building company’s name into Google, checking the testimonials on their website or their Facebook reviews are usually a good indicator.

4: The Angle Of Your Home

You might have a beautiful design for your new home that ticks all of the boxes, but if it’s dark and lacking in natural light it can take away from your enjoyment of everyday life in your house. A simple way to get the most possible natural light in your home is by discussing the best angle for your home. Changing the angle by just a few degrees can mean the difference of a cold dark room, or one that gets hours and hours of sunshine every day.

If you plan on building a new home make sure to outline all of the key features you want included, think about where all of your furniture and cabinets will be placed, ensure the design and build team you choose has a great reputation and discuss the angle of your home early on with your architect.

Book your new build consultation with Sigma Homes today by visiting us online or by calling us on 021-436-5866.

4 Reasons Natural Light Is Important In Your Home

4 Reasons Natural Light Is Important In Your HomeWhen building a new home, one of the things that you should always be considering is the best ways to take advantage of natural light, and how even small changes in your architectural planning can make a huge difference when it comes to letting in more light. Here are 4 reasons natural light is important in your home.

1: Energy Conservation

The obvious way that natural light reduces your dependence on electricity, is that you won’t have to turn on your lights in dark rooms as often and you can leave them off for longer as the day turns to night. However, natural light can also help reduce your heating bills. The sun coming in through your windows in the morning time and throughout the day will actually heat up your rooms, you may still have to use your central heating system but for a bit less time each day. When building a new home, conserving energy wherever possible is always high on the list of priorities.

2: Better Views

More natural light means more windows, and more windows means more views. If you’re building a new home in an area you love, being able to see that area is a huge bonus. That comes with the added bonus of being able to easily keep an eye on the kids while they play outside without having to constantly go back and forth from that one window that has a good angle of the garden.


3: Healthier Indoor Plants

Plants need the natural light of the sun to survive and be healthy. Having a home with plenty of natural light is the easiest way to keep your plants thriving and detoxifying the air. More natural light gives you far more opportunities to grow indoor plants to decorate your home.

4: Increased Vitamin D

When your skin is exposed to the sun it makes vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for healthy bones, immune systems, intestines, cardiovascular systems and much more in both children and adults. Due to the weather, Irish people are generally lacking in vitamin D so creating a home that helps you get the most natural light can only be a good thing.

When you are designing your new home, natural light is hugely important. It can help you save money on your energy bills, open up more views to look out at, give you far more opportunities to easily grow indoor plants and it increases your vitamin D production.

If you have been thinking about designing and building a new home, book your consultation with Sigma Homes today by visiting us online or by calling us on 021-436-5866.

How To Choose The Right Builders For Your Project In Cork

The Right Builders For Your ProjectWhen it comes to your home, you should never settle for anything less than the best. The quality of the work that is carried out will have a direct impact on your life for years to come, so choosing the best builders for the job is extremely important. There are a wide variety of factors that should influence your decision when you are trying to choose the right builders for your project. Here is how to choose the right builders for your project in Cork.

1: Location

If your project is in Cork, you should choose a construction company that is also located in Cork and has a history of completing building projects on time and to a very high standard in the area.

2: Easy To Contact

Being able to get in touch with a builder quickly and easily is very important. Over the course of a new build or an extension, you will probably have a few questions that you need answered or some changes you want to make along the way. If you can’t seem to get through to them or they don’t get back to you quickly, it can add a lot of unnecessary stress to the build.

3: Portfolio

Another important factor when choosing the right builder for your project is their portfolio. This should always be something that is readily available to you when dealing with any reputable builder. This a fantastic way to get a feel for their work and the type of projects they excel at. If there is no portfolio made available then you should keep looking for the right builder.

5: In-House Architect

If you’re building a new home, an extension or completing some renovation work you should always choose a construction company that has an in house architect or architecture team. Being able to change plans and cost things completely in house can save you a substantial amount of money. Also having the builder and architect working closely together can often allow them to team up and come up with creative ways to keep your project within budget while still delivering on key aspects of the build.

How To Choose The Right Builders For Your Project In Cork4: Reputation

The reputation of a construction company can really be what sets it apart from their competition. Google any companies you are considering and take a look at their reviews. What their past clients have to say about their experience and the quality of work that was carried out is just about the best indicator of how you will be treated as one of their clients.

When you’re choosing a builder for your project in Cork you should consider choosing a company with a good history of projects in the area, is easy to contact when you need them, has a great portfolio of past projects, has an in house architect and had a fantastic reputation with their clients.

Book your design and build consultation now by visiting us online or by calling us on 021-436-5866.