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 Post subject: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 11:18 am 
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Joined: Mar 30, 2016
Posts: 696
Not sure if there is one of this already, but i thought a thread detailing peoples experiences in buying older houses and then renovating might be useful.

So for example, what you wanted to achieve, what you budgeted, did you go over that budget and if so what was the main driver of that and did something come up that you never envisaged before you started.

also what would you do differently if you were starting again

appreciate any feedback that you can give!


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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 4:29 pm 
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Joined: Aug 2, 2011
Posts: 1248
cyrusir wrote:
Not sure if there is one of this already, but i thought a thread detailing peoples experiences in buying older houses and then renovating might be useful.

So for example, what you wanted to achieve, what you budgeted, did you go over that budget and if so what was the main driver of that and did something come up that you never envisaged before you started.

also what would you do differently if you were starting again

appreciate any feedback that you can give!


Good idea. I'll see can I dig up a link to an old boards.ie thread in which folk said what they would do differently, in hindsight, after having new built / refurbed. A lot of stuff in there to help people avoid overlooking things.

In my experience, reasons for over-budgeting on any project include:

a) not listing every single darn thing you can think of requiring from the get go (and putting some kind of reasonable ball park cost against each item to get an early indication of feasibility)

b) not including contingency for unforeseen items (say a simple 10% added onto to start with, but reducing as you firm up the cost of each budget item)

c) basing feasibility on the cheapest quote. Not getting enough quotes. Not being very specific in your spec so as to get an accurate quote

d) changing your mind, mid-project. Adding things as you go. Extra costs cost disproportionately more

e) Not having buffer items. Items that you can cut out or diminish the quality of in order to redirect budget elsewhere.

f) Not having a budget to start with


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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 4:52 pm 
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Joined: Mar 31, 2009
Posts: 1921
My name's Ixelles and I live on a building site.

Early 1990s house, getting extension to rear which incorporates existing kitchen. Mid-way through now, ergo we gots no kitchen. Well, we have the use of a fridge and cooker at the moment. The living room at the front doubles as a dining room until the job is done so it's like tiny-apartment living.

The price of everything is higher than I'd have imagined at the get-go. Ignore only calculators that give price/m2 estimates. The time it took to get started - i.e. from calling an architect to having a builder on site - was nearly six months. Shocking. Partly due to slow work by architect in organising the tender but also because there are just fewer contractors willing to bid.

Now that I see all the work involved in foundations, insulation etc it's easier to understand the costs of doing it right. Just to have so many people and machines around for two months is bound to be expensive, presuming they are paying VAT/taxes.

There was a big gulf in bids - almost 30% - and in the estimated time it would take. We opted for a guy who has his own crew and works locally rather than a guy who uses a lot of sub-contractors and was straight about how hard it is to get skilled people on site when you need them.

Now that things are under way, progress has been pretty swift. Only one unpleasant surprise: the method the builder had planned to use to attach a steel beam is not going to fly with the engineer. The latter wants it bolted in a way that temporarily affects upstairs bedrooms, so that brings added inconvenience and costs. Two additional days on site for three guys plus some extra equipment = around 1k.

Having an architect definitely adds to the cost. You have their fees, a surveyor (at least at the start), an engineer for any steel structures, and then they spec everything to meet the building regs so we've got insulated blocks that are twice the price of standard blocks. I hear people scoff when I say how much it's costing because they know a guy who throws up lean-to sunrooms for [my guy's price minus 40%] but I doubt we'll regret doing it properly.

At least we'll have all the documentation and the architectural technician shows up to inspect weekly before authorising any payment. The builder could tell me he'd done X, Y and Z but I'd have a hard time knowing if he was playing straight. Likewise on materials for foundations and flooring. Architect gets photos and or first-hand proof of everything to ensure it meets the standard.


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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 7:22 pm 
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Joined: Feb 20, 2009
Posts: 428
Didn't TI start one of these threads? Can't find it though.


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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 9:03 pm 
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Planning Tribunal Attendee

Joined: Aug 2, 2011
Posts: 1248
Another thing (I've learned to own cost) is getting the divide wrong between renovating and ripping out.

I traveled up to County Down to pick up a pair of hardwood doors cheap. But the time taken to make a frame, blank the lock holes and cut out new lock holes and fit the door to the frame ended up costing the same as it would have cost to buy a new unit complete with frame that could have been installed in a jiffy

Or getting architraves and skirtings carefully removed, labelled up, stripped and cut to fit the warmboarded walls. When it'd have been much quicker to rip and dump and fit new stuff - especially when it came to decorating and all the damage to the old had to be filled and repaired.

Or trying to find floorboards to match the thickness and width of those rotten and missing ones. I got new wide plank and ended up with a lovely floor (I used spacers between the planks to give an old gap-between-the-boards look, original boards when fitted would have been butted up tight together but shrink over time to give that characteristic ye olde look). And avoided a series of old nail holes and damage which actually ends up looking quite tatty

Advice should be sought from the builder about where the line should be drawn in the myriad of "period features" you attempt to retain. In future I'll aim for more rip out and less renovate.


Last edited by york on Sat May 14, 2016 12:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2016 11:27 pm 
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york wrote:
Another thing (I've learned to own cost) is getting the divide wrong between renovating and ripping out.

Taking that to its logical conclusion, I often wonder why people spend more to renovate than the cost of knocking and rebuilding from scratch (to a better standard).

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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 12:11 am 
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Joined: Aug 2, 2011
Posts: 1248
Mantissa wrote:
Taking that to its logical conclusion, I often wonder why people spend more to renovate than the cost of knocking and rebuilding from scratch (to a better standard).


It can be a close call. I imagine folk leap in without realizing total cost at the outset and get sucked in.

The downside to a new build is just that ..it's a new build. That adds a whole heap of demand by way of standards - with associated cost / bureaucracy and professional involvement these days which isn't applicable to a refurb. You can obtain a comfy, cosy and efficient home by way of refurb without achieving current standards (which may or may not be obtained other than on paper)

The key is to be able to spot what is fundamentally sound and what's crap. I see it all the time around Bray: stuff that's up a 100 years plus and will stand forever. And stuff that has stood a hundred years and hasn't a vertical/horizontal surface in it.

There were good and bad builders then too.


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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 9:08 am 
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Ixelles wrote:
My name's Ixelles and I live on a building site.

Early 1990s house, getting extension to rear which incorporates existing kitchen. Mid-way through now, ergo we gots no kitchen. Well, we have the use of a fridge and cooker at the moment. The living room at the front doubles as a dining room until the job is done so it's like tiny-apartment living.

The price of everything is higher than I'd have imagined at the get-go. Ignore only calculators that give price/m2 estimates. The time it took to get started - i.e. from calling an architect to having a builder on site - was nearly six months. Shocking. Partly due to slow work by architect in organising the tender but also because there are just fewer contractors willing to bid.

Now that I see all the work involved in foundations, insulation etc it's easier to understand the costs of doing it right. Just to have so many people and machines around for two months is bound to be expensive, presuming they are paying VAT/taxes.

There was a big gulf in bids - almost 30% - and in the estimated time it would take. We opted for a guy who has his own crew and works locally rather than a guy who uses a lot of sub-contractors and was straight about how hard it is to get skilled people on site when you need them.

Now that things are under way, progress has been pretty swift. Only one unpleasant surprise: the method the builder had planned to use to attach a steel beam is not going to fly with the engineer. The latter wants it bolted in a way that temporarily affects upstairs bedrooms, so that brings added inconvenience and costs. Two additional days on site for three guys plus some extra equipment = around 1k.

Having an architect definitely adds to the cost. You have their fees, a surveyor (at least at the start), an engineer for any steel structures, and then they spec everything to meet the building regs so we've got insulated blocks that are twice the price of standard blocks. I hear people scoff when I say how much it's costing because they know a guy who throws up lean-to sunrooms for [my guy's price minus 40%] but I doubt we'll regret doing it properly.

At least we'll have all the documentation and the architectural technician shows up to inspect weekly before authorising any payment. The builder could tell me he'd done X, Y and Z but I'd have a hard time knowing if he was playing straight. Likewise on materials for foundations and flooring. Architect gets photos and or first-hand proof of everything to ensure it meets the standard.


Experience gives a perspective on the real cost of building/returning/maintaining a property :)


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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2016 12:32 pm 
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Joined: Aug 2, 2011
Posts: 1248
Luan wrote:
Experience gives a perspective on the real cost of building/returning/maintaining a property


To sum up: taking on a property that needs any kind of significant renovation/extension will either:

- cost you in money, in terms of farming out all the work to those who will take the stress and worry for you. The benefit is that you can make things your own and play the nicest parts in that process.

- cost you in terms of personal stress and worry if you decide to run things yourself with a builder. You will hit uncharted territories and find yourself surfing on a mix of ignorance/partial knowledge throughout.

Them's the options, it seems to me: financial cost vs. psychological/emotional/relational cost.

Walk-in attracts a premium for these reasons.

The last thing I'd do is move in an renovate around me. That is the worst of all worlds.


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 Post subject: Re: The renovations thread
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2016 7:59 am 
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cyrusir wrote:
Not sure if there is one of this already, but i thought a thread detailing peoples experiences in buying older houses and then renovating might be useful.


Renovation Threads
viewtopic.php?f=53&t=61338

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