Home improvements - Operation Transformation
A rise in the number of rubble-filled skips on leafy residential streets used to be a sure indicator of a rise in the temperature of the property market - or so a veteran of the industry tells me - as the purchasers gutted and refurbed their new properties. But things have changed.
These days, a skip outside the door is as likely to be the result of householders who are stuck in negative equity resigning themselves to staying put and building up, out - or even down, in search of extra space than the result of new owners.
With that in mind, this week we're focusing on how to gain extra space and in the process add value to your home - whether that value is in terms of quality of life or value added when it comes to eventually selling up. We've asked the experts for their advice on the factors to weigh up when you're thinking of building. Sometimes, says architect Amanda Bone, small changes are all that is needed - something as simple as reimagining your existing layout rather than building out.
According to Marc O Riain, President of the Institute of Designers in Ireland, we don't give enough weight to just how important the space we live in is to our overall quality of life. "We've become used to thinking of our houses as investments rather than homes," he says, even though we spend most of our time there.
Still, investing in work that adds a kitchen, dining area or an extra bedroom will also increase the market value of your property when you come to sell. It's difficult to be precise in a changing market, but one way to estimate the increase is to check out the price of houses in your neighbourhood that have already added that extra bedroom or living space. According to one selling agent, you may recoup roughly 50pc of costs.
All that's very well, but how do you finance your build? As the Central Bank's deposit requirements hit home, it comes as good news that the Home Renovation Initiative has been extended, and that there are grants for certain works under the Better Energy Homes Scheme. Our financial expert Sinead Ryan reads the small print to explain what you can claim and how, as well as looking at some of the competitive home improvement loans that the banks are now offering.
Once you have the design and finance sorted, it might be time to order that skip.