Citizen developers: ‘It’s a no-brainer’

As the housing market begins to show signs of recovery, two architects in Dublin have launched an alternative to buying a new house “off-the-shelf”. And their “citizen developer” model promises higher quality, more space and a closer community.

A group of people come together to build their own homes, cutting out the developer’s profit. They appoint a professional team to look after the design, planning and building, but retain the final say in everything.

Donal Groarke and Greg Jackson (pictured) say this model has worked well in other countries, notably Germany. “It’s a no-brainer. The quality is higher being based on the home owners’ needs and not the developer’s profit.”

Since the launch of their website ( three weeks ago, they have 10 people looking to create a group and two sites are at concept stage. Typically, developments would have between five and 20 units, built anywhere land is zoned for housing. Jackson and Groarke see their initiative – which differs from housing co-ops of old – dovetailing with Dublin city architect Ali Grehan’s “Dublin House” scheme for groups of individuals and families to develop small infill sites in the inner city.