Apartment Renovation / modernization

Hello all, I’m looking at renovating / modernizing a 2 bed, 2 bath (circa 700 sq ft) fourth floor apartment in Dublin 2 which was built circa 20 years ago. The apartment is in reasonably good condition, but given I will be living here for the next few years, I’d like to make it more ‘homely’! My priorities (in order) would be:

  1. New kitchen, which includes knocking small partition wall and making the kitchen / living area all one space. Maybe have a small island.
  2. New furniture, particularly couches!
  3. Possibly look at renovating both bathrooms. Ideally replace bath in en-suite with just a shower, making it more spacious (we never use the bath!)
  4. New wardrobes in both bedrooms

I have never embarked on a project like this, and any help/guidance would be appreciated. Do we need to get an architect? Quantity surveyor? Interior decorator? Budget wise, I’m guessing 20k would do a nice job? Only item 1 and 2 are ‘must have’, 3 and 4 are ‘nice to have’!

“Do we need to get an architect? Quantity surveyor? Interior decorator?”


Just check out that the partition wall really is just a partition wall and find out whether you need approval from management company.

You only need an interior decorator (to tell you what to do rather than apply paint to a wall) if you don’t really have much ‘taste’ and don’t have acquaintances that do.

Shop around for kitchens and “kitchen fitters”.

Bathrooms can vary widely in cost depending on what is installed.

With regards to taking out the wall, also double check you won’t be in breach of any fire regs or your lease with the management company (of which you are a member). If it is just a small partition though with no load-bearing responsibilities you should be fine.

For the redecoration, I can’t see any need for a QS or architect.

You are very unlikely to get it done for that IMO. We recently refurbed a 1 bed of the same era. As most apartments from that era are Section 23 and absolutely dire inside, we always gut them to make them more comfortable and less student-accom-esque. We did the following:

  • All new electric radiators with control system to make them work like central heating
  • Wide board Quick Step limed oak flooring (laminate because we wanted water resistance and less likely tenants will damage) in the hall/living/kitchen/bedroom
  • New kitchen, custom splashback and all new appliances. Modern ceiling extractor fan.
  • New built-in double wardrobe in bedroom
  • New bathroom; built-in cabinet for floating toilet & sink. Mirror cabinet with in-built lighting and razor plug outlet. Double glass shower with low profile tray & top quality fittings. Modern ceiling extractor fan. Walls and floor fully tiled up to ceiling.
  • Lots of filling, some replastering
  • Adding electrical points (wall plugs)
  • Repaint all walls, ceiling & architraves.
  • Plumb storage space for washer/dryer (used to be in the kitchen)
  • All new skirting boards
  • Light fittings

Kitchen & wardrobe were supplied and fitted by the same company. Sourced all the bathroom fittings and elements ourselves from various suppliers & fitted by family member. Skirtings, floors & plumbing done by family member. Painting & decorating by ourselves.

The only things we didn’t do were change the interior doors and architraves and rip down the ceiling and install spotlights. In hindsight we should have done both because I wasn’t happy with either in the end and they’d be too much of a pain to do in future without making a huge mess. We didn’t have to change the boiler as it was still fine.

Can’t remember the exact cost, but I think the above cost around 15k-20k and you have an extra 250sqft, including one more bathroom bathroom, to add to the equation and structural changes. As you’ll note above, we did most of the work ourselves or with skilled family members who we pay very little. We also scour the whole country & NI to get what we want for the cheapest price, looking out for sales, bargaining, etc., as we have the time to do so and have a number of properties to fit, but most people would pay more by just going to the first place.

In terms of flooring I would actually highly recommend Quick Step’s laminate flooring for apartments. They’re the dearest on the market but they look great and the water resistance saved us a fortune when a pipe sprung a leak in the apartment shortly after the floors were laid and there must have been 2 inches of water sitting on the floors, albeit for a short period of time. One year later later and the last time I saw the floors they seemed to be as good as new and weren’t impacted by the flooding, whereas I’d imagine traditional wood would have buckled very badly after it.

As others said, make sure you are compliant with fire regs. When you come to sell, buyers will be given the original floor plans and will wonder why they don’t match the current floor plans. As a buyer, I get worried when I see a floor plan in an apartment that differs from the original one. If you’re making changes, it would be advisable to have it signed off by someone so you can show future buyers that the changes aren’t breaching any rules or regulations.

Thanks for the advice, will definitely check re: fire regulations before doing any work.

Thanks very much SoCoDu - this is excellent feedback! It sounds like you really did a quality refurb. I would certainly not describe the apt as ‘dire’, it’s absolutely more than live-able (was re-painted 2 years ago, and carpets cleaned), just a bit ‘dated’, especially furniture, kitchen and bathroom. If it’s not too much hassle / inconvenience, would you be able to PM me companies / suppliers you worked with for materials / labour? No problem if you can’t, or if it’s confidential.

Well that’s good that it isn’t really bad, the one we did certainly was!

I will PM you later this evening.


Struggling to find a good thread to post this on so feel free to move …

You’ve pretty much described everything I do with my refurbishments.

PM me your email address and I’ll send you a ‘before & after’ if you wish.

You don’t need an architect.
But how good are you with colour schemes & choosing furniture etc. ?

Done, thanks! I’m not very good with colour schemes etc - this is my first time undertaking a project like this …

I’d agree you don’t need an architect. And you may not (for size of project etc.,) be able to afford an architect. However, I would suggest that an architect might bring some value to the table, if you can find a way to engage with one at a cheap enough level.

I was doing a similar budget refurb, and my partner who formerly worked as an architect certainly brought elements to the plan that I wouldn’t have thought of (e.g. in a small rectangular kitchen, door into kitchen was flush with one wall, one tap on the wall (to check it was stud, non structural) and she said we’d take the wall down to move the door about 45cm away from that wall to allow us to run a counter and cupboards the full length of that wall. That seemed like a big deal to me, but when we got it all priced up, that was only about €400 in the quote, and we ended up with a far more functional kitchen, and building-in that kitchen got a lot easier in terms of labour and in terms of selecting units etc.,

Also a good architect or designer can help by knowing where it will be noticed to spend a bit of money, and where it won’t be noticed to save a bit of money. In same kitchen, the entire cabinetry and appliances are out of IKEA, and very plain indeed. The counter-top was not from IKEA, and is solid wood. However, the incremental cost (for small kitchen) was rather little, but the impact in terms of appearance and “feel” is quite large.

It’s about getting someone who can see things worth doing, and who can put a quick price-tag on them (at least, “big/med/small job”). They’re not all good either of course, but a good architect has a set of skills that are often underestimated by lay-people (the Bannon chap on TV has done the profession no favours whatsoever, and in his approach is unlike any architects I know; then again TV doctors aren’t exactly like doctors I meet, nor TV chefs etc.,).

In any case, very best of luck with the project. There’s a great sense of satisfaction in planning and doing something like this!

Thanks for your thoughts - completely understand what you mean! I would like to move the location of the sink and washing machine, but have no idea of how easy/hard this is, or even if it’s possible!

I have had a look at some refurbished apartments online, and to my uneducated eye, I like the look of these:

daft.ie/dublin/apartments-fo … n-1270739/


I would like my apartment to look something like these after the project!