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Thinking of renovating your home? 7 things to consider before you start

‘You don’t always need an extension – you can reorganise the space you have.’

WHETHER YOU’VE LIVED in your home for decades or you’re only there a few years, there will come a time when you’ll seriously think about doing it up.

Maybe your family has grown and you need more space, or the kids have left the nest, and you have space to yourself, finally. Maybe you’re thinking about future-proofing for your old(er) years, or maybe you just fancy a change and want to create something different without moving house.

shutterstock_243653452 Shutterstock / Breadmaker Shutterstock / Breadmaker / Breadmaker

Whatever your reasoning, we spoke to architect Colm Doyle, MRIAI, of DMVF Architects to give us his best advice making your home your own.

Think in ten-year chunks

Colm says when you’re considering any plans you should think in ten-year chunks of time and consider the needs of your family and home in that time. For instance if you have a five-year-old child now, what are they going to need in ten years as a 15-year-old?

The first thing I would do is stop and think – think about your family. What do I need to do most and what will the family look like in ten years time?

Alternatively you could consider age-proofing your home for when you get older, putting in a downstairs bathroom, for example, or making the downstairs of your home more accessible generally.

Examine what you already have


Often, when you’re not fully happy with your home you may think an extension will fix everything. It will give you more space and open up the house. You may be surprised to find that Colm actually advocates really examining what you’re working with and seeing if there is a way to reorganise the space you have to maximise your home.

Great storage can make a space seem bigger.

This can be as simple a solution as providing clever storage options such as utilising space under the stairs, to moving internal (non-structural) walls and create open plan kitchen/living/dining rooms.

Let the light in


Another great tip from Colm is to really examine where the light hits your home and try to bring it in as much as possible. Rooms that were dark and feel small become more open and airy with the addition of a roof light or creating a wall of glazing that overlooks the back garden, for instance.

Kitchens, bathrooms, utilities

shutterstock_188240111 Shutterstock / Iriana Shiyan Shutterstock / Iriana Shiyan / Iriana Shiyan

The areas that Colm is most frequently asked to consult on – and help to create real change to the overall look and feel of the home – are kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms.

Bathrooms, kitchens and utilities – they’re often the trigger points. They don’t have a bathroom, or a utility room or their kitchen is under-performing.

You can give your bathroom new life by taking out their baths and putting in a double shower, as many people are now doing.



Of course, you can also extend your home. Most people tend to extend their kitchen, as most of their time may be spent there.

The kitchen really is the heart of the home.

While Colm thinks an open plan kitchen/living room/dining room is a lovely use of space he feels the need to distinguish the different zones.

You can mark the zones with a change in the ceiling level, put a roof light over the dining table or use the island to create a divide between the spaces.

He advises not making the space too big, and also making it sub-dividable – so there can be sliding walls to close the sitting room off from the dining room, creating more enclosed spaces if desired.

Energy efficiency

Shutterstock / travellight Shutterstock / travellight / travellight

Often people want to increase the energy efficiency of their homes and Colm says the best way to do that is with insulation – whether roof, internal or external insulation.

The cheapest, quickest and easiest upgrade you can do to any house that will have the fastest impact is to upgrade your roof insulation.

After roof insulation, you’re looking at wall insulation – either externally, internally or in the cavity of the construction. The type of insulation you go for depends on the construction of your house and costs.

You might also be eligible for grants toward the cost of your energy-efficient home improvements. Check out the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme or the Home Renovation incentive.

How do you find an architect or tradesperson?

shutterstock_368529578 Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com Shutterstock / Rawpixel.com / Rawpixel.com

For an architect, the best place to go is to the Royal Institutes of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) website where there is a directory of architects and this will tell you what type of work they take on.

For tradespeople, he advises you to really do your research. Get references and examine their previous works so you can be sure of their quality of work.

Are you planning on doing any home renovations? Let us know in the comments below.

Whether your house needs a lick of paint or a new kitchen, put your plans into action with a KBC Home Improvement Loan. KBC offers one of the best fixed rate personal loans on the market with a KBC Current Account. You can find out more here.

Lending criteria, underwriting, terms and conditions apply. Loan Discount offer is available with respect to new Personal Loan applications only and is subject to availability. To avail of the optional discounted rate, you must repay the loan from your KBC current account by direct debit. The discounted rate is a discount on the standard personal loan rate which equates to a 1% discount on the Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”), which may vary. KBC Bank Ireland plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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