Can we move to Ireland and build a prefab home on a site?

Planning process for one-off rural housing is guided by local development plans

Generally, the planning authority will develop two policies – ‘one-off rural housing’ and ‘rural settlement’ (village type) with specific requirements.

My partner and I would like to build using a prefabricated home company in Poland. There are lots of sites for sale in Ireland but we have no idea of the planning permission process? We currently live in London with our baby. Could we buy a site and apply for planning from London or do we need to be resident in Ireland? Many thanks for your advice.

These are exciting times for you and your partner. The excitement of building a home to your own design and specification offers many benefits. It is unclear from the query if you intend to permanently relocate to Ireland and whether this will be your main home or if you wish to construct a holiday home.

The planning permission process regulates development and this is guided by local development plans (adopted by the relevant planning authority). The county development plans have particular objectives that refer to the local council’s rural housing strategy. National guidelines are in place and these seek to encourage sustainable rural communities in a way that is compatible with the protection of local economic, environmental, natural and heritage assets (eg road network, water quality, habitats, etc).

Generally, the planning authority will develop two policies – ‘one-off rural housing’ and ‘rural settlement’ (village type) with specific requirements. In the case of one-off rural housing, the requirements will typically restrict development to established members of the local community and persons for whose employment is intrinsically linked to a rural resource-based activity.


For rural settlements, the development plan will seek to ensure that housing development meets the criteria identified for local need and local growth categories. If your plan is for a holiday home, then the planning requirement may be particularly restrictive. I note that the council will consider the reuse of redundant farm buildings (owner agritourism enterprises), derelict buildings (where you satisfy the one-off housing requirements), etc.

With regard to considering prefabricated construction house-building methods, you should research all options (compared with traditional construction options) and seek advice on compliance with building control standards.

Given the foregoing, my advice before you purchase a potential site is to engage a suitably qualified professional (eg chartered building surveyor, architect, etc) to inspect and review the particular location, consult with the local authority and provide advice on house-building methods.

If considered appropriate, a planning application can then be submitted for consideration. Generally, the planning authority must make a decision on the application within eight weeks of receipt, but if more information is required, or the decision is appealed, it may take much longer. In the event that you were successful in receiving planning permission, this will contain a number of planning conditions that you must comply with (eg design standards, occupancy condition prohibiting future sale of property, etc).

Andrew O’Gorman is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland,