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Can I Extend and Renovate my “Fixer Upper” for €100,000? A First Time Buyer’s Renovation Budget Explained

In 2013, €100,000 was like a king’s ransom to most businesses in the Irish construction industry. Now clients approach us with budgets at this level and are shocked when we tell them how little can be achieved with such a large sum of money. We have decided to tackle this issue with a clear worked example. In 2018, rates for some types of construction have increased 50% since the recession, client expectations have increased, there is a shortage of competent construction workers, and subcontractors are now more accountable for quality. These pressures have inflated the many expenses which make up a typical renovation budget. Even the most seasoned commercial clients...

Why are Architectural Fees for “Tiny” Projects Prohibitively High?

We recently received a Quotation Request Form from a new client, relating to a really small front porch for their home. With really small projects, the architectural fees are often disproportionate in relation to the construction budget, so they often proceed without proper design input from an architect. This issue comes up frequently in our practice, so we decided to explain it in full.  The main problem is that many of our architectural services tasks are exactly the same no matter what the scale of building work, so certain parts of the fee make sense on larger projects, but are prohibitively high on smaller ones. For example, two clients can...

8 Reasons why you can no longer build a house without professional services.

8 Reasons why you can no longer build a house without professional services.

A new client recently asked if it was possible just to hire an architect for design and planning permission stages, and then to self- build with no further professional services. We thought it was worth posting our response to this very common question.   In short, the answer is technically yes, there’s nothing legally stopping you, but in practice it no longer works. There are just too many other parties in the process who will require you to have an architect. Not having an architect when you need one could (indirectly) prevent your build being: properly financed, legally certified, or even being added to the register of compliant buildings. Tradition of...

10 Easy Steps for a Fantastic Home Renovation Experience

It’s possible that these simple measures could add 15%- 20% to the construction budget, but they have the potential to enhance your experience of the process, and effectively eliminate all the common stress pressure points experienced by our clients. If you want to improve your home, but are worried by that it will be a stressful process, follow these steps.  We are currently working on a number of articles about the negative “customer experience” of homeowners working with builders. The main reason so  many people have negative experiences of home renovation is largely financial; when your budget is tight, you are forced to balance the cost of professional services (which...

Multi- Family Home Extension- A New Approach to Traditional Rural Housing

Rural families in Ireland have a strong tradition of building houses on family land. This goes to the core of rural life in Ireland; it can be extremely difficult to create the life you want in a sparsely populated rural area and all young people face a tough choice to stay or go. Having the space and permission to build an affordable rural home can tip the balance in favour of staying in the local community. In late 2014, we were approached by a family who had lived in the same rural place for three generations. Our clients were a family of five: a newly married couple with a baby,...

Construction FAQ: How long does it take to develop planning permission into construction drawings?

This is a response to a recent query on our website; it’s something all clients ask us so we decided to share the response on our FAQ. The technical design process requires a mixture of design, procurement work, and coordination of information by the architect, and a lot of decisions by the client. Drawing Work If you’re talking about a domestic renovation or house extension project, we usually produce the actual technical design drawings over about a week for a small project with very typical construction, and as much as a month for a larger project with more detailed design. This estimate would be based on the assumption that our...

Hurricane Damage Scene

How Do I Check my Insurance Needs Before starting Building Work on My Home?

This is a common question, and it applies to all projects, after a builder has been selected, while the building contract is being finalized. This is a simple DIY guide to assessing your insurance needs for the duration of construction, but we also suggest talking to your insurance broker, if you have one, or some other specialist adviser if you’re unsure about your needs. You will need the following documents: Your home insurance policy A sample copy of the standard RIAI Yellow form building contract from your architect A breakdown or summary of the contractor’s insurance. Notify the Insurance Company You must talk to your home insurance company before work...

Achieve Luxury at the Right Price- Architects’ Buying Tips for Your New Kitchen

Achieve Luxury at the Right Price- Architects’ Buying Tips for Your New Kitchen

In the last number of months we have seen enormous differences in the quality, price-transparency and service offered by kitchen suppliers in the Dublin area. Many use 3D kitchen design sessions as part of the sales process. A design consultation should be focused on achieving your needs with the space and budget available; design should never be used as an “up-selling opportunity”! Value is hard to achieve as suppliers often make quality, price and the scope of what\s included unclear. This article will help you look past the slick graphics and find the right price for the kitchen you want.For most domestic design projects, the kitchen is both a highly...

Man and woman shaking hands

Project Manager- Your Design Team FAQ

“Project Manager” is a widely used term; it is also widely mis- understood in the context of the building industry. It is important to state that for a home renovation, you do not need a project manager if you have already employed an architect on a full- service basis. The administrative tasks you need are apportioned to the design team listed in the FAQ section, whenever a standard RIAI contract is used. First time clients often ask us: “will you project manage the build?” The management of the physical work and the site operations is the province of the building contractor, architects instruct them with drawings and information, and inspect...

Assigned Certifier Services Re-imagined to Add Value

Assigned Certifier Services Re-imagined to Add Value

Worried about Building Control? The government created the complex new building control system in response to Priory Hall, but DKAD have re-imagined the paperwork, checklists and procedures to empower our clients as never before. 4 Steps that Make our Building Control Service Different? Harness the Potential of Your Expanded Design Team Use New Record Keeping Procedures as Project Planning Tools Refine and Streamline the Processes Innovate to Create Management Information and Project Insights SI-09 2014 demands that you pay for a lot more professional services than you might otherwise want: more information, more spreadsheets, thicker files, a bigger team of professionals and more accountability. We believe this extra work can...

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What Unforeseen Factors Can Increase my Home Renovation Budget?

          Many clients fear the risk of unplanned cost increases. Investigation at design stage, and careful selection of a proper building contract reduces this risk. In general terms, there is very little scope for a budget to escalate at construction stage once you have listed everything you want, and decided on a level of specification for the project when briefing your architect for the “technical design”. Standard rates of construction will apply to the majority of house extension schemes, with the exception of features which will be supplied by specialist sub contractors; such as special glazing. The risks of increases usually come from the introduction of...

What Does Standard Construction Look LIke?

What Does Standard Construction Look LIke?

“Standard Construction” In Ireland and the UK, standard residential construction is commonly understood to refer to the level of specification of a new speculatively built home. It could be defined as the minimum “visual” standard of construction at which a developer can expect to sell speculatively built homes within a timely manner. It is usually also the lowest “technical” standard of construction permitted by law. At the moment, this level of specification is characterised by painted sand and cement render on external walls, synthetic slate roofs, UPVC windows, and red deal internal joinery. Most building contractors consider this level of specification as a baseline when quoting for building work, because...

What is a Bill of Quantities?

A bill of quantities (BoQ) is essentially a very long, carefully prepared shopping list for the parts and labour needed. The precision of a BoQ comes at a considerable cost because additional professional services are required to compile and administer it. It is a powerful tool for maintaining cost- control but it requires you to employ a quantity surveyor, who may not otherwise be needed. Bills of Quantities are usually prepared at the expense of the client, but from the time the BoQ is prepared, all changes to the design can be quantified with absolute precision. The construction budget can be controlled more precisely because changes and additions to the...

What Does “Reinstatement Value” Mean?

This is a term coined by the insurance industry to define the amount of money they may pay out if a building burns down or is otherwise destroyed. In my experience, it seems to be based on the lowest credible market value of materials and labour needed to recreate the construction of the building. It is important to realise that it is not necessarily intended to reflect the cost of modern construction, because building regulations evolve constantly and most houses are, in fact, quite obsolete. There is a rule of thumb when dealing with insurance companies, that a customer should never profit from an insurance claim. This often places victims...

What is a Quantity Surveyor and Do I Need One?

What is a Quantity Surveyor and Do I Need One?

These cost control tasks can be done by the architect OR with the assistance of a quantity surveyor: Cost control activities during construction on complex projects Preparing the Bill of Quantities and cost estimates during the design stages Preparing prices for contractors during the tender process Providing an economic and financial perspective in the “design team” A quantity surveyor (QS) is a professional who is trained to measure building- designs, to help oversee the expenditure of the budget during construction, and to generally provide a financial and economic perspective within the team of professionals who help a client construct a building. In my opinion, only the most expensive and complex...

What is a Tender Process?

What is a Tender Process?

Key Steps in A Tender Process: A technical design is prepared by the architects and engineers. The quantity surveyor (if required) produces a long shopping list called a “bill of quantities” based on the design. Builders who want to do the job are provided with the drawings and bill of quantities. They each give a detailed price based on their own cost- structures and expectations of profit. The client selects the best proposal for their needs. The end result of a tender process is a “real- world” determination of the building cost, backed up by a detailed pricing document and a main contractor who is prepared to sign a contract...

Creation of the Bill of Quantities

Creation of the Bill of Quantities

When a scheme design has been completed, a quantity surveyor may be employed by the client to advise on the likely cost of the design. A quantity surveyor assesses the architects drawings, and measures the amounts of materials and labour needed to build the building. A long list is written and broken down into logical categories. In simple terms this is a massive shopping list showing the amount and type of work to be done, and materials to be used. The BoQ facilitates extremely precise and rigorous cost control, but it requires a quantity Surveyor to prepare it, who might not otherwise be needed.

What is A Schedule of Rates?

What is A Schedule of Rates?

A schedule of rates is a breakdown of the parts of a building by category, which is prepared by builders during the tender- process and submitted with their quotation or tender. It states prices for different types of the building like metal- stud walls and finished roofs. For a house- extension project, it should be a fairly short document ranging from 3- 10 pages in length. It is used to assign values to interim certificates for payment under standard building contracts, and most importantly; to assign values to design changes and additional items (“extras”).

What Does “Standard Construction” Mean?

What Does “Standard Construction” Mean?

In Ireland and the UK, standard residential construction is commonly understood to refer to the level of specification of a new speculatively built home. It could also be defined as the minimum “visual” standard of construction at which a developer can expect to sell speculatively built homes within a timely manner. It is usually also the lowest “technical” standard of construction permitted by law. At the moment, this level of specification is characterised by painted sand and cement render on external walls, synthetic slate roofs, UPVC windows, and red deal internal joinery. Construction details at this level are often based on the Technical Guidance Documents of the Building Regulations. Most...

What Does “Standard Construction Look Like?”

What Does “Standard Construction Look Like?”

If you want “rock bottom prices” you must agree to accept a fairly basic visual standard, similar to ordinary rented accommodation. It Typically Includes: Standard concrete block cavity walls with plaster inside and outside. Standard pitched roofs with synthetic slates, OR standard flat roofs. The minimum level of insulation required by the building regulations. Basic electrical fit- outs with one central light bulb in each room, white plastic switches, and a double socket in every corner. Structural openings formed by the builder’s own block- layer, this will limit the design of windows and doors to straight openings supported lintels, rather than specialist steelwork. This means you can only make relatively...

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