With house prices on the rise – especially in Dublin where the average price of a 4 bed semi is nearly €400k – trading up to a larger home has become out of reach for most people. That’s why renovations are on the up with more and more homeowners making the most of the space they’ve got. So if you’re thinking of a renovation, we have nine tips to keep in mind to make sure you get the most out of your space…and your budget.
1. Design first!
Whatever you do, make sure you have a detailed floor plan to work from (sections/elevations are really important too). An architect or architectural technician can help you here. Make as many decisions as possible prior to beginning a build and have a clear vision of what you want to do.
2. The bigger picture
Rather than beginning with paint colours, doorknobs and window frames, look at the bigger picture. What works and what doesn’t with the current space? Do you need more light? Is it difficult to heat? Would you like more storage? Think big and then work your way down to the details.
3. Become your own draftsman
If you have a big project in mind, take charge of your drawings!
Sketchup is a free software that’s easy to use and free to download. You can visualise your plans in 3D and play around with the layout of spaces and the placement of furniture. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to tackle its more advanced functions (how light and shade effect your home as well as how it sits with surrounding buildings).
4. A realistic budget
Look carefully at your budget and be realistic about how it fits with your renovating aspirations. But don’t forget: creativity trumps expense everytime! Inexpensive materials like plywood, when carefully designed, can create a sleek, contemporary aesthetic for a fraction of the price. Check out Simon Astridge’s Plywood House for some Archi-inspo.
And don’t forget to visit architectural salvage yards – you can pick up high quality materials (like hardwood flooring, marble slabs and liscaner tiles) for a fraction of the cost.
5. Less is more
Buy fewer pieces of furniture but be sure that what you do buy is carefully considered, well made and will last the distance. If you’re limited with space think about furniture that can be multi-functional and customisable. Even big spaces can become cluttered quickly so be ruthless about what you need! William Morris’s golden rule is a good place to start: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
6. Account for all eventualities
How many episodes of Grand Designs end with the build being completed on time and within budget? Not many! So leave yourself a little extra budget to account for all eventualities. Experts suggest some contingency fund of at least 5% of the overall budget.
7. Take advantage of incentives
Now’s a great time for Home improvements. There are several government schemes available to give you a helping hand. Thanks to the Government’s Home Renovation Incentive it’s possible to claim back up to €4,050 in tax relief on work carried out. Just make sure you employ a builder who is tax compliant! See more at revenue.ie.
8. Destroy it yourself
There are innumerable videos on youtube showing you how to whip up a bespoke shelving unit in an afternoon. Tread carefully! Though it’s always great to make something yourself, the cost of tools and materials (not to mention the time involved) can turn a do it yourself into destroy it yourself in no time!
9. The other senses
We all rely too much on what we see. Choose materials based on how they feel under foot, how they respond to sound, even what they smell like! Think of your favourite architecture.
What made such an impression on you?