With construction price inflation around 13%, it is expensive to make major renovations to your home.
Nevertheless, many owners continue to move forward.
But would they be better off waiting?
Plan and wait
“Now may not be the time to start working on a big renovation job, but you should plan for it and overcome any hurdles this process may present,” says David Craig of Dublin Design Studio, which specializes in tailor-made constructions on problematic sites.
“The planning permit lasts five years and there are many obstacles to obtaining it. You cannot predict the problems that may arise. Giving yourself the time to get the planning you want is a good first step. That way, when things calm down, you have the flexibility to do whatever you want.
Or when you get a price you can afford, you’ll be good to go, so says Tarla MacGabhann, Principal of MacGabhann Architects.
“From an initial consultation with an architect to being ‘ready to go’ will take about a year on average, six months for design and an additional six months for planning.
He says this extra time also gives the design time to mature and the client time to ruminate, and in some cases can allow you to deliver the project more economically.
You may be thinking that you want more space, more light and expand into the garden and landscape it as well. When you recoup the costs, you may realize that you don’t really need a second large TV room, that the spare room can be used as a cinema room instead, in cases where you need of a second space, he says. “It gives you time to reevaluate.”
There are also new ideas creeping in, exacerbated by the energy crisis, MacGabhann says. “It’s about thinking like a Swiss. Swiss architecture may seem very ordinary. Many buildings have flat roofs because it is the most economical way to build. Instead, the focus is on good quality, high performance windows, airtightness, insulation and a good quality heating system. If you’re successful from the start, you don’t have to spend money trying to fix the problems.
But not everyone says to press pause.
“If you saved up and/or got approved for a loan, I would still go ahead,” says contractor Mark O’Sullivan of Clanforce Construction.
“If your proposed project now exceeds the budget by €100,000, you must reduce it. But reduce the finishes. Do you really need aluminum windows or waxed concrete floors? You can use a laminate under the feet, for example.
“What you don’t skimp on is energy efficiency. This is something that needs to be done at the start of the project. A well-insulated house will hold up well in an era of rising energy bills.
It’s all about value engineering, he says.
“Doing the basics now is what is important. You can then tip piece by piece, adjusting to budgets as you go.
A quantity surveyor and contractor, who did not want to be named, said the current problem for architects and their clients was finding a location or a window for the building.
“Contractors are busy for the next 12 to 24 months, so it is very difficult for builders to establish a realistic cost for such a distant project. Signing a works contract within three years affects both contractors and clients. What happens if the bottom of the market falls and you are tied to a price, for example? This also helps to drive up prices.
If you’ve done the numbers and the builders and architects have overpriced you to do a complete renovation, there are plenty of full-service interior design firms that will rush in, along with their address books, and give your home a total refresh.
Habu has a lot of expertise in this area and his manager Robert Glynn says a new interior design on a 222 sq m house – including a new kitchen layout with Silestone countertops, three new bathrooms and a bathroom refresh. painting for the hall, stairs, landing, two living rooms and the master bedroom – will cost from €145,000 to €165,000 and will include all furniture shown in the photos. Entry-level prices start from €85,000 for a full renovation of a two-bedroom apartment of around 80m².
Interior designer Emily Cunnane, director of InSpace, a company that can redesign a room or an entire property, is also seeing an increase in lighter decorating work – which she describes as “acting work” – with money spent on furniture, lighting, painting and carpentry rather than extensions and building work.
The most disruptive of these jobs is a kitchen or bathroom overhaul, which will take around three weeks and up to 12 days respectively, nothing compared to a six-month construction project. She can price a kitchen at around €15,000 plus another three or four thousand for worktops, while bathrooms cost between around €10,000 and €12,000. A simple paint refresh on an average three-bed tractor-trailer can range from $7,000 to $12,000.
So hang in there, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel, Cunnane says. “It seems to be sorting out a bit. People are taking a break, so there’s more availability of contractors. This time last year you couldn’t find a contractor, but now you can.
But don’t break the hammer just yet, at least until you’ve worked out the numbers. “Prices are still very high,” she says.
How do you choose the right architect for you in today’s climate?
1. Ask how many options the company will offer for you is the advice of Tarla MacGabhann, who is currently working on a project for a couple who have moved from London’s Shoreditch to the Donegal Gaeltacht. It offers the customer six different options.
2. Ask for three references from the firm’s clients along with their contact information, and send them a message asking them what they think of the service, what kind of options were offered, and if they can reach their architect on the phone.
3. Focus on the layout of the space and bring light into each room. Don’t worry about the look. With a good architect, beauty will fall into place.