Thursday 29 September 2016

My Big Idea: Designing dream homes with builders and architects all under the one roof

Published 04/02/2016 | 02:30

Urban Living founder Niall Mulligan
Urban Living founder Niall Mulligan

Niall Mulligan (40), a father of two originally from Fermanagh and now living in Greystones, Co Wicklow, is the founder of Urban Living. The Dublin business provides architect and construction services under one roof for home improvement projects.

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"I have 15 years of experience in construction and wanted to do something like this for a long time.

I finally took the plunge two years ago. We opened up in 2014 but it was last summer that things really took off.

Urban Living is a retail store - you can walk in off the street into our office in Ranelagh in Dublin - and get architect and construction services in one place.

However, we can also offer either service on its own, if the client prefers to use their own builder or architect.

We mainly serve the home improvement and extensions market, anything from attic conversions to interior design to exterior work.

Homeowners generally don't know where to begin when it comes to finding an architect or builder for those kinds of projects.

In rural areas, everyone tends to know a local builder or can find one easily by word of mouth.

But young, city-dwelling professionals don't have those contacts.

That's where we come in. It is one of the reasons we are based in Dublin and will expand in built-up city suburbs.

My vision is to have several easily accessible, high street branches where the general public can walk in off the street if they need any building work carried out.

The business employs two architects and two project managers as well as me.

We sub-contract out some tasks, like electrical work, but our project managers are always on site supervising everything.

January was really busy.

Like exercise, people are obviously motivated to start working on their homes at the turn of a new year.

The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme rolled out in the last Budget, which offers tax relief on lots of home improvement work, has helped business too.

I hope to expand in south Dublin, staying in the busy suburbs.

Then I'd like to move into Manchester and the south of England. I worked there for a long time and know the market well.

My wife and I funded the business entirely with our own savings.

It was very tough at times in terms of cash flow and I was tempted several times to go back to working for someone else. But we held on and things are going great now.

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