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Get a new home for €50 and help charity as well

HOMEOWNERS will be given 'room to improve' for just €50 after RTE architect Dermot Bannon signed up to design houses for charity.

Budget-conscious householders are being offered the rare chance to have an affordable one-on-one with RTE One's star architect in April, the Herald can reveal.

Room To Improve presenter Bannon is just one of a number of high-profile architects to sign up for the Simon Community's sixth annual Open Door campaign.

The scheme, which has raised €200,000 for homeless people since its 2004 launch, enables people to receive an hour-long consultation with a certified RIAI architect for just €50.

Speaking to the Herald, Dermot said: "It's a great way to get out there and meet your local architect and get some advice while helping the Simon Community.

"All of the architects involved are giving up their time and it will be happening up and down the country. People might just simply want a new storeroom or an extension or just some expert advice on what they could do to adapt their house to suit their changing needs."

Due to the phenomenal nationwide success of the campaign, for the first time the initiative will span an entire weekend, taking place on Saturday and Sunday, April 24 and 25.

The theme of this year's campaign is low-cost interventions that help families create a home that allows them to cope with their changing needs, as well as their bills.


Bannon also offered some advice on how to get the most out of the one-hour consultation.

"Bring some plans and photographs or, if you have a rough drawing or a site plan, that would be good as well but photos are really important," he said. "To do a successful project you do have to get to know people because you learn more about people and their needs that way. This is a great way to meet an architect without any obligations."

Given the current downturn, Bannon predicts this year will be the campaign's most successful to date.

"We are expecting it to be busy because people are starting to realise you can do a really decent amount of work to your house for the same cost of stamp duty alone. There is always something that can be done with a house. For me it's great because sometimes when you do things for charity there are administration costs but in this case all the money goes to the Simon Community.

"It's a busy two days but a very worthy cause."

Meanwhile Bannon said he is extremely excited about the new revamped series of Room To Improve, which has been adapted to reflect the recession.

"It meant we could shake up. We've enjoyed taking programme into new area."