Property: even cats and dogs are seeing price rises
With the housing market on the rise again and property supplements making a comeback, Offaly farmer and former builder, Pat Daly, is setting up a construction company.
However, unlike other builders – who have to go through the torturous process of planning permission, are mired in Nama and have potential buyers who can't get a loan – his market of luxury designer bespoke, classic and duplex homes start at €200 and are aimed at Ireland's 1.2 million dogs and cats.
In common with the wider construction industry, prices have started to go up due to increases in the cost of building materials – a reality dogs wishing to get their paw on the property ladder are not immune to. "Inflation in building materials is 7 per cent; but I try to keep the prices down and absorb the cost," explains Daly.
Naturally enough, it took time for Daly's Rhodes, Co Offaly-based Designer Pet Homes to get going. However, two years on, he is swept off his feet building bespoke insulated homes – which, unlike some other dog houses on the market are warm places to live in during the winter and don't fall apart after harsh winter storms.
Daly explains how the novel business idea came about: "I'm involved in the construction industry and I actually built houses. During the boom I was mostly involved in plastering; and, after it ended, external insulation plastering.
"But about two years ago a guy asked me to build a dog house for him, so I went along to DIY centres to see what was on offer. I wasn't impressed by what I saw. They were not nice at all – very flimsy. I saw how badly constructed most pet houses were and decided to build one from insulated material that would last 10-15 years."
The owner of the new dog house was very impressed and as a result of that unusual one-off job, Designer Pet Homes was born.
"The Pads for Paws range of designer homes has fully insulated walls, floor and roof. So on a frosty morning the inside temperature is 15C and on a scorching hot summer day it is about 10C cooler. Our homes are so well insulated that your pet's own body heat can keep them warm in harsh winters."
He adds: "The houses are plastered on the inside and outside, have double-glazed windows and tiles on the floor. Due to the materials our doghouses and pet homes are made from, they are extremely durable and yet very light."
For people who are architecturally sensitive or live in period properties, the design team are only too happy to oblige.
"We also design pet homes to match your own house, including dormer windows, multiple doors and brick-work. We can also do additional features such as tiling on the inside, brick work on the exterior, lighting, etc.
"We also build duplex houses for two pets so they can have separate homes in the same house.
"Our homes are handmade in Ireland, and we ship to anywhere in the world. We design our dog kennels and pet homes to suit your pet's personality, size and needs – the sky's the limit really.
"If there are any ideas you have, just ask. Simply fill out the contact form, tell us what you need and we will come back to you as soon as possible."
The pet houses are also proving very popular with children who use them as playhouses.
Pat Daly is now eyeing up the UK market where there are an estimated eight million dog owners. However, apart from being a business, for Pat Daly it is also a labour of love.
"I love to see the happiness on people's faces when I pull up with their new house and they say, 'Wow!'
"Of course there is a lot of work involved due to the fact that they are handmade: you have the drying time for the plaster and paint, and that takes its own time – not to mention putting in the fixtures and fittings. But it is all well worth it."
Sunday Indo Business