Live Free for a Year  – No rent, no rates, no energy bills!

Mid Ulster based Setanta Construction are looking for a local family* to live rent-free for a year in their newly launched SoLow Passive House located in the outskirts of Magherafelt town.  In exchange, occupants will share their experience as part of valuable research and inform future product decisions around passive house living and associated energy efficiencies, all whilst making significant financial savings.

With growing concerns about the cost of living, rising energy costs and the availability of much needed high-quality housing, Setanta Construction met these challenges head on by designing and completely manufacturing, Ireland’s first volumetric modular house constructed to complete Passive House standards - the internationally recognised gold standard in ultra-energy efficient construction.

Specialist manufacturers of timber framed homes and off-site modular construction, Setanta Construction built SoLow as a prototype for passive housing and since its launch late last year have been widely recognised for their ground-breaking innovation.

SoLow is a modern three-bedroom property that would ideally suit a family of two children.  The modern designed house has been fitted with specialist monitoring equipment and is now ready for occupants to move in and live rent free for a year as part of a passive house research monitoring project supported and carried out by Ulster University.

Current research suggests that Passive houses substantially reduce utility bills by using significantly less energy than a typical home.  Harnessing natural energy sources to generate and capture heat, they not only help the environment but help homeowners save money too.

According to Mark Gribbin, joint Director at Setanta “We’ve teamed up with Ulster University’s Centre for Sustainable Technologies research team to conduct a detailed study into the optimal performance and cost saving benefits of SoLow and Passive Home living.

He said, “We’re fully convinced of the advantages of building a Passive Home and currently estimate that our SoLow super energy-efficient modular homes can sustain fuel bills at in and around £150 per year.  But to fulfill our assurance to potential SoLow homeowners and industry professionals we’ve committed to undertake a unique study to examine the full benefits in comparison to conventional builds, examining home energy savings and exploring what works well for ultimate owners and the environment we live in.”

“We’re reaching out to members of the Magherafelt community including, potential first-time buyers or those considering building a new home and are thinking of applying passive house principles to get involved in this one-of-a-kind research, by living rent free at our ‘SoLow’ building project in Magherafelt for one year.

Niall Gribbin, Director at Setanta Constructions said, “It’s a win-win situation, at the end of 12 months we get unique and specific data about the energy performance of Solow that will help inform future decision-making and our tenants will get to live for free with no major household bills allowing them to make significant financial cost savings that could possibly go towards a future deposit for their new home or building project”. 

“So whether you’re a first time buyer or considering starting a building project in the near future and want to find out more about the benefits of ultra-energy efficiency for your home, then this opportunity might be the one for you.”

Applications are now open to those living in and around the Magherafelt area and following submissions a shortlist of potential successful applicants will be compiled and invited to interview after the closing date of 20th March 2023.

For those interested in living rent-free for a year, here's how the selection process works:

  • Hopeful occupants can apply by emailing and requesting an application form referencing ‘Live Free for a Year’ in the subject bar.
  • A panel of reviewers will evaluate submissions and shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview.
  • Successful occupants will move into our SoLow property no later than 24th April 2023.

Additional information including full terms & conditions can be found online at and follow on Instagram and Facebook at @setantaconstruction

The construction process of the SoLow passive modular home is very different from that of a conventional house. Currently it takes just two weeks to construct 'SoLow' in the factory and it can be assembled onsite in just a few hours.  In time, Setanta Construction intend to scale up with plans for a new 30,000 sq ft factory underway, enabling the construction company to increase productivity to 1 fully completed house every day.

Terms & Conditions:

  • Terms and conditions apply.
  • Hopeful occupants can apply by emailing and requesting an application form referencing ‘Live Free for a Year’ in the subject bar.
  • Setanta Construction will accept applications for ‘Live Free for a Year’ from 27th February through to March 20th.
  • A panel of reviewers will evaluate submissions and shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview.
  • Successful occupants will move into our SoLow property no later than 24th April 2023.
  • Applications are open to anyone age 25 and over from the Magherafelt area.
  • One application per household.
  • SoLow House is located at: Setanta Construction Head Office, Ronan Valley Business Park, 60 Ballyronan Road, Magherafelt, BT45 6EW, Northern Ireland.
  • The three-bedroom home will ideally facilitate 2 adults and 2 children (max 3 children) with at least one member of the family in full-time employment.
  • No pets allowed
  • House will be unfurnished.
  • Chosen occupants will have to consent to taking part in publicity surrounding the campaign including photography for the purposes of promotion.
  • For the duration, occupants must be willing to allow access to SoLow House for the purposes of monitoring and collating of data and to provide access to open-house demonstrations at short notice.
  • Live Free for a Year entitles occupants to – no rent, no rates, no energy bills from end of April 2023 – end of April 2024.
  • Entrants must have a valid passport/proof of identity and must be able to speak conversational English.
  • Once approved, a tenancy agreement will be signed by all tenants and landlord.
  • You must provide proof of identity for you (and your partner) including your dates of birth for example a passport, driving license or birth certificate.
  • One proof of address for every person, including children.
  • Please do not include original documents with your application, we may ask to see original documents at a later date.
  • Selectors decision will be final and unchallengeable