Unique designs battle for ‘Home of the Year’

Ita Molloy and Andrew Harvey have a home built into the side of a hill in West Cork.

From self-built dream homes to eco-friendly retreats, just seven houses remain in contention for RTÉ’s Home of the Year competition.

Three judges have been picking and choosing the cream of the construction crop — designers Hugh Wallace and Helen James, and architect Declan O’Donnell, must now decide the overall winner.

Nominated for their unique domain in West Cork, retired couple Ita Molloy and Andrew Harvey said they never expected to get to the final.

“It was a bit of a shock to us because I really didn’t know what the other houses would be like,” said Ms Molloy. “It was especially nice because my son Donn was the architect. He not only designed the house but he project-managed the build and did a good bit of the labour himself as well, actually. It took two years and a couple of months to finish the house.”

The couple’s home is split-level and completely eco-friendly. Built into the side of a hill, the house is incredibly well insulated — the sun shines through the triple-glazed windows and warms the house and the central wall absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night.

“The motto is build tight and ventilate right. The house is designed so that it will pass an air tightness test and means you don’t lose any heat,” said Ms Molloy.

“We’ve no heating bills at all, it’s great!”

Other finalists include Tom Hayden and June Kennedy from Tipperary who made extensive extensions to their cottage, interior designer Carla Benedetti who renovated her south Dublin Victorian house, and art graduate Sarah Tompkins’ totally pink pad.

In Sligo, architect Feile Butler and carpenter Colin Ritchie live in a cob-and-timber-frame home they mostly made themselves from soil excavated on-site and salvaged building materials.

Debbie Thornton, series producer, said she was thrilled with the public response. “I think viewers are enjoying the variety. These are people who love where they live and have, essentially, put their own stamp on their corner of the world.”

The final airs on RTÉ One on Thursday at 8.30pm.



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