Four ar­eas you must get right in any home ren­o­va­tion

The Irish Times - Thursday - Property - - Property The Market -

When plan­ning a home ren­o­va­tion it can be easy to fo­cus on the quick wins. But by do­ing this you are in dan­ger of fix­ing the wrong prob­lem. In a fast-mov­ing world we have be­come used to things hap­pen­ing in­stantly, from on­line shop­ping to con­ve­nience apps we imag­ine ev­ery­thing is lit­er­ally at the touch of a but­ton. But with a home improve­ment pa­tience is the key to suc­cess. It’s es­sen­tial to take your time and en­sure you are fix­ing the right prob­lem. Th­ese are four ar­eas to fo­cus on to en­sure you make the best de­ci­sions. Wiring, heat­ing and in­su­la­tion. Th­ese are the three ba­sics that you need to get right or ev­ery­thing else is a com­plete waste of time. It can be tempt­ing to rush out and spend on dec­o­ra­tion, fur­nish­ings etc to make ev­ery­thing look bet­ter; this is espe­cially true as we ap­proach the silly sea­son and are keen to have the house look­ing well for Christ­mas. But in so many cases it’s more im­por­tant to in­vest in the things you won’t see. Not only will fix­ing th­ese things mean your home will be more com­fort­able but it will also save you money in the long run.

By up­grad­ing your heat­ing con­trols, for ex­am­ple, you can re­duce your en­ergy us­age by up to 20 per cent, mean­ing you will save money on your home heat­ing bills. On av­er­age a home loses 20 to 30 per cent of its heat through the walls, which rises even fur­ther if they are not in­su­lated. Up to 30 per cent can also be lost through a poorly in­su­lated at­tic. By prop­erly in­su­lat­ing your home you will re­duce heat loss and your heat­ing bills. There are sig­nif­i­cant grants avail­able to make th­ese kinds of im­prove­ments. Visit the SEAI web­site for more de­tails. When the lay­out of your home isn’t work­ing it of­ten feels like you need to add more space but this isn’t al­ways the case. Quite of­ten there are ways to re­con­fig­ure what you have to solve the is­sues you face. I vis­ited a house a few months ago where there was an at­tic space with fan­tas­tic panoramic views over Dublin bay; the fam­ily were con­sid­er­ing con­vert­ing it to cre­ate a sec­ond storey for a main bed­room and home of­fice. To make the room use­able would have meant rais­ing the roof and a lot of struc­tural work. Get­ting ac­cess to the at­tic space also meant com­pro­mis­ing the floor be­low. While walk­ing through the rest of the house my client ex­plained that most of the first floor wasn’t work­ing for them. The bed­room lay­outs were not great, stor­age was an is­sue, and none of the bath­rooms or en suites were well laid out. My ad­vice was to for­get about the at­tic and fo­cus on get­ting the lay­out of the first floor right. This way they would im­prove their en­joy­ment of their home straight away rather than end­ing up with a big­ger ver­sion of their al­ready poorly func­tion­ing home. Prices are go­ing up all the time, and it’s quite likely that the money you set aside will not be enough to cover ev­ery­thing on your wish list. When try­ing to fig­ure out how best to in­vest, fo­cus on the ar­eas you and your fam­ily spend the most time in. There’s no point, for ex­am­ple, cre­at­ing a fan­tas­tic guest bed­room with en suite at the ex­pense of your bed­room and bath­room spa­ces. While some things are nice to have it’s vi­tal you work out what is go­ing to im­prove your qual­ity of life first and fore­most. This is what is ul­ti­mately go­ing to give you the best re­turn on your in­vest­ment. In­vest­ing in stor­age to solve a stuff prob­lem. This is a re­ally com­mon is­sue. I had clients a cou­ple of years ago who came to us with what they said was a stor­age prob­lem. They had a large five-bed home, but they felt they were rapidly run­ning out of space. When I met them I was as­ton­ished to see the house al­most full to the brim with stuff. There were some rooms you couldn’t even ac­cess be­cause they were so packed with things. My ad­vice was to do a ruth­less clearout of the en­tire house and then carry out an as­sess­ment of what to do next. This might seem ob­vi­ous, but it can be hard to see ob­jec­tively how you use your home day-to-day. That’s why it can be so im­por­tant to get im­par­tial ad­vice. Denise O’Con­nor is an ar­chi­tect and de­sign con­sul­tant @op­ti­misedesign

When the lay­out of your home isn’t work­ing it of­ten feels like you need to add more space but this isn’t al­ways the case. Quite of­ten there are ways to re­con­fig­ure what you have to solve the is­sues

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