A magic mirror to earning potential: Rent-a-room scheme
Carmel Lyons' house offers new buyers the chance to avail of the rent-a-room scheme writes Mark Keenan
Terenure-based art nouveau enthusiast and collector Carmel Lyons may well have cracked the secret to getting the very best out of the Irish Government's rent-a-room scheme – which entitles you to earn €10,000 per annum for a room within your home.
Lyons, who works for the National Gallery of Ireland, has always acquired and developed her homes over the years with one eye on adding comfort and décor, but with another firmly on the addition of market value and commercial potential.
Now that she's selling the detached home on Whitehall Road in Terenure which she acquired 14 years ago, the value adding renovations she directed in gradual steps over those years are now looking like paying decent dividends - not least the rent-a-room quarters which she has developed to the side of the house having reworked and extended the original garage space.
The house, which was acquired for €300,000 back in 2000 is now on the market for €650,000 and Douglas Newman Good already has an offer just short of the target amount with two weeks to go in the campaign.
Potential buyers have been crowding through the four bedroom detached home – decorated and furnished very much with the classic nouveau touches in mind – not just attracted by this home's size, dimensions and plush décor, but with also a hard eye on the earning powers of the side quarters – at market let value: the maximum €10,000 per annum tax free amount earnable under the scheme, according to her agents.
And who wouldn't consider the option of a large family home with some decent hard cash earning potential?
When people think of rent-a-room, they think of having to share their house with a stranger who gets their own bedroom, but also avails of all the common areas.
Rent-a-room is essentially regarded as taking in a "lodger" rather than a tenant and this puts many privacy counscious liking renters and families off availing of the scheme.
This is because the Government stipulates that in order to qualify for the scheme, the area the lodger occupies must be linked directly into and be a part of the main residence. There must be an internal passage from the lodger's living area into the main abode, or else it is considered to be a self contained apartment and therefore liable for full taxation.
In Carmel's case, the lodging accommodation – which comprises a modern and well kitted bedroom, bathroom, and a kitchen/living area – has its own front entrance, its own rear access and a private rear garden patio.
The necessary linking door into her main residence is through the front hall of the main residence.
The door is fully soundproofed and on Carmel's side, has a stylish floor to ceiling mirror mounted on it which fully conceals the entrance.
In this way, so long as they don't open the door, both lodger and host can live completely separate and private lives.
This solves the privacy problem and creates an attractive tax-free income earning device for anyone with an extendable garage to the side of their home.
Plus it's a hidden door. And who wouldn't want the magic of challenging visitors and their children to find it.
"I designed the additional accommodation so my grown up children could stay over.
"But they're all living in the UK now and they're not over enough to make good use of it.
"When I converted it, I deliberately paid for reinforced foundations that would permit the addition of another first floor at little cost while doubling the accommodation.
"It means that this house appeals to the most types of buyers possible.
"And it wasn't that expensive to do."
The combination of uses for the additional accommodation are as follows:
* Keep it as tax free rent-a-room scheme and earn the maximum €10,000 tax free amount with privacy while your lodger also enjoys tax relief.
* Use it as a granny flat, to house an infirm elderly parent alongside the main family.
* Au pair accommodation which affords a combination of both privacy and access to the main house.
* Guest accommodation for visiting family and friends.
* Seal up the door, build a floor overhead to develop a second self contained small house. Move into it and rent the main home attached or vice versa.
The house features Edwardian style stained glass surround front doors and inset stained glass panel window in the door, wider halls with ornate turned balusters and timber board floors throughout which many of the owners opted to sand and varnish.
Shortly after buying the house with her late husband in 2000, Carmel began altering it to improve the layout.
These included chopping the entire flat end off the single storey rear kitchen "extension" provided with the original house and elongating it with an elegant rounded bay window.
She has invested in bespoke carpentry to make a window seat surround for the bay as well as bookshelves in the main reception room.
"When I go into a house I love to see personality but people have become slaves to big money looks when in reality you don't need to spend a lot to have a home looking great."
"You see black is perfect – you didn't expect that. It isn't a colour, it's the absence of colour – the secret is what you use alongside it. And, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't make the space look smaller at all."
She chopped the end off the mid-sized upstairs bedroom leaving plenty of room in the remaining chamber, but adding enormously to the main bathroom – enough to create a luxurious shower room in the main bathroom, covered in granite tiles.
The kitchen has hand painted units. "People go buying these uniform soulless units. In my next house (a project restoration period home) I'm going to paint the units all different colours.
In Ireland we seem to be slaves to the catalogues and the looks we're being fed."
Accommodation in this house spans to almost 1,400 sq ft and includes the hall which is covered in Parisian fin de siècle style black and white diamond floor tiles and includes white uprights in the bannisters with a black gloss painted handrail as well as stained glass detail in the front door and surround – this creates a dappled light effect inside.
There's a downstairs WC, a lounge with a cast iron original and restored late Victorian fireplace place with colourful tiled inset detail. The livingroom which is accessed via a squared and framed arch has glazed double doors (in a modern style with a strong Edwardian lean) to the patio garden outside. The diningroom has the aforementioned extended bay window seating area looking at the garden all round and the kitchen comes with a beech worktop and wood effect floor.
There are four bedrooms upstairs and the master charger has an en suite with a Mira power shower. There's a pull down ladder to a partly stored attic.
The "apartment" area meantime has its own lounge and kitchen with velux roof windows overhead for light, French doors to a private rear garden space, a bedroom and a bathroom with a Mira elite shower.
The house is on the 15a route to the city centre and within 20 minutes walk of Terenure Village, and Bushy Park and is within easy reach of the M50 and a range of schools including Terenure College, St Mary's College and Templeogue College.
Meanwhile Carmel is preparing for her latest project, nearer the city centre.
She added: "I will really miss this house but I have to say I can't wait to get stuck into the next project."
Douglas Newman Good's Terenure office (01-4909000) seeks €650,000.