If you’re going to be spending money on your home at a time of heightened costs, you’ll want to ensure you’re adding value to your property at the same time as improving its comfort.
So what can you do to get the best bang for your buck?
1 Basic bathroom makeover — from €3,000
Most basic white sanitary ware in bathrooms is perfectly functional, but the tiling and hardware may need a lift, says Andrew Foran, head of valuations at Quillsen. Fashionable black hardware by Irish brand Sonas starts from €140 for a basin mixer. New wall and floor tiling can cost anything from €30 to €60 per square metre for standard formats, while fashionable large slabs cost €100-€150psm, says Tony Byrne of Onyx Tiling. A job can take anything from two days to two weeks, depending on the levels of intricacy.
2 Superficial kitchen upgrade — from €4,000
A kitchen that is too stylised, say with red gloss units or coloured glass splashbacks, may put off buyers, says Graham Murray, regional director at Sherry FitzGerald. If the doors are looking tired or deeply unfashionable, then you can have them resprayed or change them completely.
Ballyfermot-based Kitchen Respray can do an average size kitchen — 19 doors and four drawers — from about €1,800. This doesn’t include the countertops. It will only respray existing laminate or wood tops — the latter only if it hasn’t been oiled.
If marble is beyond your budget, then consider quartz instead. You could try The Stone Gallery at Tile Merchant in Ballymount.
3 Off-street parking — from €5,000
Susan Slevin, a partner at estate agents DNG Donnybrook, says off-street parking is a must for many buyers and is an important factor in determining asking prices — especially in built-up areas.
“If you have a lawn or garden that can be paved, it is one of the most worthwhile additions you can give your property.”
You will need planning permission, and professionals to carry out the work. Pricing can vary depending on the size of the space, but for a standard 50sq m space, Toni Jupi of Driveway Paving says the most affordable way is gravel, which will cost from about €50 per sq m, increasing to about €150 per sq m for porcelain tiles, quartz or bound resin, so a cost range of from €3,500-€7,500. And that’s before you put in a path.
Foxrock Paving says you can expect to pay at least €10,000 for the work, and another €3,000-€4,000 in architect fees to get planning permission for its change of use. And that’s before you employ a landscaper to try to soften the effect of the new hard surfaces. It’s unlikely then you’ll see much change from €20,000.
Dublin City Council has a really good leaflet with advice on this.
4 Attic renovation — from €4,000 for insulation and from €21,000 for basic conversion
Attic insulation is a really easy, noninvasive procedure to prevent heat loss, says quantity surveyor Patricia Power. She recommends thermal mineral wool insulation to an overall depth of 400mm, usually 200mm in one direction and 200mm in the other, so you get full coverage. This will cost €4,000-€10,000 dependent on the size.
An attic conversion will unlock value while you’re living in it, as well as when you go to sell, as long as it’s fully compliant, says Graham Murray.
“If the space has been done in a way that is fully and legally compliant with building regulations, then it becomes a fourth or fifth bedroom. People can use the space for a variety of different reasons: working from home it is separate from everyday family life, or it could be a playroom for the kids.”
Ninety-five per cent of the jobs Paul O’Reilly of Tallaght-based Attic Conversions Dublin does don’t meet the criteria to quality as an official bedroom. But converting will still add useful space and can make working from home easier, says David Craig of Dublin Design Studio.
O’Reilly says costs start from about €21,000 for a basic three-bedroom semi and will include standard stairs, steel beams, insulation, power points, spotlights and two roof lights, leaving the space ready to be painted and flooring laid. An en suite will add another €5,000 to the bill, excluding sanitary ware.
5 New bathroom — from €10,000
The standard two-up, two-down houses that form a large part of Dublin’s entry-level housing stock often don’t have an upstairs bathroom. Installing one will add value, says Murray.
It is possible in some of these properties to install a bathroom between the two bedrooms taking space from the alcoves on either side of the dividing wall to install either two small en suites or one larger bathroom, with a large Velux window to bring in natural light and ventilation. Costs start from €10,000, says Dave Leech of Ultimate Bathrooms, depending on sanitary ware and tile finishes and how difficult it is to get pipework in.
In period-style properties, space under the front granite steps has successfully become a spa-like bathroom.
6 New windows — €15,000-€30,000
If you need new windows, expect to budget €15,000-€30,000, says Power. Triple glazing is only marginally more expensive, dampens outside noise and makes the place more secure. Ask your supplier about thermal foam and airtightness tape. You will need to factor in costs to cover repainting of the window boards, window heads, reveals and possibly the entire rooms.
7 Heating upgrade — from €5,000
Less than €5,000
A modern A-rated boiler will have a far higher efficiency rate, and will cost up to about €5,000, says Craig. But there is no point installing what he calls the Rolls-Royce of boilers without dealing with all the associated elements, because you’re still going to be losing heat.
Less than €10,000
Installing a stove and flue, whether gas, solid or multi-fuel, will give out about 80 per cent of its heat into the room. Prices vary from about €3,000 to €8,000 and upwards, depending on styles selected and remedial actions that show up in the chimney survey.
Less than €20,000
You should also review existing radiators and replace badly performing ones — those that are not emitting plenty of heat, says Power.
A heat pump is a great system for a new home or an upgrade. It is suited to underfloor heating or low temperature radiators — which means you may need to replace the ones you have.
The high-temperature heat pump, which is specifically designed with a retrofit in mind, whereby it uses existing high temperature radiators, is an advancement that is exciting Power, but she has yet to see one installed. Expect to pay €15,000-€20,000, depending on house size.
8 Improve energy efficiency — from about €15,000
Embracing energy efficiency is an investment worth making, according to agents, decorators, architects and builders.
“With interest rates rising, a lot of people want to buy a B3-rated house or above to qualify for a so-called green mortgage, which is a better lending rate being offered by most of the pillar banks,” says Foran.
“Investing in insulation and renewable energy sources can be extremely beneficial in the short and long term,” says Slevin, who recently sale-agreed an extensively modernised property in Ranelagh, circa 100 years old, with a B3 energy rating, for 22 per cent above asking price in less than one week of going to market.
“Homes with a good energy rating are selling so much quicker and for more money than those in need of renovations and energy rating improvements. Today’s buyers are very aware of energy bills and home running costs, so this is the area that potential vendors should really be focusing on.”
Different house styles will cost different amounts to retrofit, says Brian McIntyre, programme manager at the sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). “A 1960s-built three-bedroom semi of about 92sq m can see a big improvement in its air tightness by adding external insulation to its walls and attic, installing double-glazed uPVC windows and external doors, a heat pump with radiators and mechanical ventilation. It can all be done for €50,000.”
But this figure excludes the money needed to dig up floors or other repair or finishing works needed to finish the job. Nor does it include new flooring options or new kitchens or bathrooms. Quantity surveyor Patricia Power puts the cost range of external insulation at €20,000-€40,000 depending on surface areas of the house.
In contrast, the same basic works in a cavity wall, block-built 1980s house of the same size will cost about €35,000, says McIntyre.
Internal insulation will cost €15,000-€25,000, depending on property size but is a far more invasive option that really only works as part of a more comprehensive refurbishment, says Power.
Period homes will often need to be insulated using breathable materials or specific window treatments, which cost more.
Booking an appointment with an SEAI-approved BER assessor or technical adviser will tell you what rating your home has. These professionals should advise on how to stagger the upgrades, to lay out how, say over a five-year period, you can get the house up to a B2 rating, says McIntyre.
One BER specialist who will lay out in simple terms what to do and what costs will be involved for the type of house you live in is Aengus O’Dowd, who advises small builders and developers on how best to optimise the properties they buy to return them to the market fully renovated and boasting A or B-rated BER values. The fee is €1,000, which is more than the average BER assessor charges, but gives extensive detail on what can and can’t be done, and current costings.
If opting for underfloor heating, contractor Ivan Duggan of Inex Works is a fan of Onyx, a luxury vinyl plank, made from recycled concrete, from The Hardwood Flooring Company in Sandyford, that transfers heat really well.
PV (photovoltaic) panels will cost €5,000-€10,000, depending on the number required, but you also need to factor in battery costs to store the energy if you also want to charge an electric car. Costs range from €5,000 to €20,000, says Power. A solar PV system, with battery backup, can also be used to run slimline wall-hung heaters as well as the hot water, and is another consideration.
Less than €20
Spend money to save money long term. Simple measures include replacing all light bulbs with LEDs and swapping some bulbs for smart bulbs. Buy a respected brand such as Philips, from €20 each, Craig advises. “A lot of the cheaper ones are prone to hacking and if the company goes out of business they stop working.”
Less than €50
Banish window draughts by applying silicone to outside frames. Inside draught-skimming will stop timber frames from rattling, and applying airtightness tape around the interior window reveal, €48.50 per 25m roll from Goodwins, will all help, says Craig.
Less than €500
If you have an open fire, this is a big heat loss. A simple way to address this is the installation of a fire genie, costing about €300-€400, a galvanised steel dampener and draught-excluder, that will deliver immediate results, says Power.