Thursday 8 December 2016

Advice that will take stress out of building

Paul Keogh

Published 27/01/2012 | 05:00

IN THE literature of popular psychology, buying, building or renovating one's home are often high on lists of life's most stressful events.

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Yet, whether building from scratch or renovating anything from inner city cottages to suburban semi-d's, the Irish passion for making a place one's own seems deep-rooted and continues to be an irresistible challenge. One which - if planned and managed properly -- can provide a sense of satisfaction and pride which compares with some of life's most fulfilling achievements.

While most are happy with off-the-shelf or previously renovated properties, the process of designing and undertaking the work yourself will deliver not only years of comfort and well-being, but also a unique expression of your personality and values.

In The Architecture of Happiness, author and philosopher Alain de Bottain describes the deep-seated need for our homes to provide both physical and psychological sanctuary: 'Although this house may lack solutions to a great many of its occupants' ills, its rooms nevertheless give evidence of a happiness to which architecture has made a distinctive contribution.'

After the initial purchase, any significant renovation or new-build project will probably be the largest financial investment of your lifetime. With the property market in the doldrums -- and likely to remain so -- many are looking to make best use of the possibilities offered by their existing homes. There is now the imperative to carry out energy-saving retrofit works, whether to lower fuel costs, take advantage of government grants, or to make a personal contribution to the fight against global warming and climate change.

Building projects are rarely straightforward and a registered architect is the only professional trained and qualified to advise on all aspects of the design, planning, management, construction and contract issues relating to domestic building works. The best outcomes are invariably achieved when an architect is consulted at the outset, so that the creative and problem-solving skills which he or she brings are used to guide each stage, bringing real long term value -- in terms of function, construction and aesthetics -- to the project as a whole.

Over the coming weeks the Irish Independent and the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland will provide advice and practical guidance on how to go about building projects of every scale.

Architects with particular expertise in domestic work will advise on the key steps to achieving successful outcomes: how to go about choosing the right architect, how to assess your needs and priorities, working through the design process, understanding planning and building regulations, establishing realistic timeframes for the work, dealing with budgets and cash flow, finding a suitable builder, and managing the construction process.

Properly managed, the stresses of building or renovating can be minimised if the right decisions are made at the right time. There must be an overall recognition that the anxieties and challenges which inevitably arise are all part of the process of transforming your needs and aspirations into the reality of a home which will give many years of pleasure and happiness to you and your family.

The series will be accompanied by occasional case studies, with illustrations and descriptions of typical projects, and describing how challenges were addressed successfully.

Paul Keogh heads Paul Keogh Architects and was president of the Royal Institute of Architects Ireland 2010-2011.

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