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Should I stay or Should I Go Renovate or Move Home – Irish Times Featuring Derek Trenaman

You can’t look at it over five to 10 years, you need to see it as a 20-year investment

Derek Trenaman

Read an Irish Times Article from Thursday 28th April giving advice from various Irish Architects, including our own Derek Trenaman, on the big decision of whether to renovate or move home.

This is a common conundrum facing growing families or any homeowners looking to modernise or increase the size of their home. With the rise of both building costs and houses the answer is rarely straight forward. Get some excellent ‘in-the-know’ insight from some of Ireland’s best placed professionals on the matter!


Below; An old country home brought into the modern world, over doubled in size, yet retained the cottage charm.


Why Use An Architect?

4 More Reasons to Choose An RIAI Registered Architect

1 Building Control Amendment Regulations 2014

A registered Architect can act as the ‘Assigned Certifier’ for your build to ensure full compliance is achieved. In one-off homes and extensions (that need planning permission) you can ‘opt-out’ of the BCAR process. But this moves a very onerous administration heavy process back to you, the building owner. And no person is exempt from the building regulations. The savings are minimal in taking this approach but the cons are numerous. There is great peace of mind when choosing the assigned certifier path but we’ll go into the benefits of choosing the BCAR process in another post.

Some Irish lenders are reluctant to fund building projects where the building owner opts out. This is mainly because the oversight of a registered building professional isn’t there. The banks often seek full BCAR compliance and the many certificates and compliance documents that come with that. In a sense, BCAR makes it a ‘safer bet’ for the banks too.

You see, unlike most situations, we architects actually love the rules. They guide us towards great design, they set increasingly better building standards ensuring homeowners get the great homes they deserve.

Find much more info on the BCAR process in a helpful explainer pdf here, https://scsi.ie/a-guide-to-the-building-control-amendment-regulations-2014-for-chartered-project-management-surveyors/

Irish Building Regulations

2 Architects Will Get the Best From Your Budget

Even if you’d love to include everything on your wishlist, your budget may force you to compromise. The benefit of using an architect is that they’ll help you get the maximum return on your investment. They will show you alternative options that you may not have considered. They always look for the best way to do things, at the best cost.

If the budget is restricted, an Architect will advise where cost is best allocated…. But sadly these areas are often the things you don’t see! Hidden extra insulation in walls, under floors, or newer wall construction types. And not fanciful fixtures like quartz kitchen worktops, Crittal doors or engineered wood flooring. Unlike insulation, for example, they can come later, but work all the better in a better-built home.

And architects also develop many relationships with good local builders and suppliers and can often negotiate special prices for their Clients.

Read more on working with Ceardean architects and what value we bring here https://www.ceardean.com/how-we-add-value/

3 Architects Design Sustainable Homes

Architects dedicated much of their design to reduce the impact of buildings on the environment. We look at the science of how buildings work and use best practice passive design concepts, sustainable materials and innovative technology. This makes your home cost less to run, uses less energy and reduces its impact on the environment.

The new Building Regulations (Part L 2019) have once again raised the standards of energy conservation in homes. And this even now applies to extensions to old homes! Architects understand these continually changing rules and make sure your home both complies with the regulations and saves you money and energy.

Read our article here https://www.ceardean.com/nzeb-low-energy-buildings/ on the new NZEB Energy Regulations

Architects train to understand shading effects on energy consumption and natural lighting. They can also recommend materials that contain less embodied energy, are easier to install, and take less time to construct, timber frame versus brick and blocks for example.

Thermal Camera showing areas of heat loss

4 Choose Knowledge, Skills and Experience

Architects are highly skilled professionals requiring many years of study and experience before they can operate in the Irish Building industry.

Architects complete 5 years of full-time study followed by 24 months of Post-Graduate Professional Training and a Professional Practice Examination. To become registered members of the RIAI an additional entry exam is required. So always remember this is the knowledge, skills and experience that’s made available to you when you choose a registered architect.

Go to the RIAI website for the full breakdown of the process https://www.riai.ie/work-with-an-architect/work-with-an-architect-your-home

Of course, not all architects are created equal, and you should choose the one who is right for you. Someone who comes recommended and/or has completed similar projects. And at the end of the day, who you think can work with, there will always be tough decisions so choose professionalism here. Most building projects are long and often tough journeys, always with some type of problems along the way.

ceardean architects - registered architect RIAI
Ceardean architects – registered architect RIAI

Building Energy Ratings & 2019 U-Values Explained

Here are some helpful explanations (hopefully) of these increasingly common terms in the world of warmer homes & energy conservation. We don’t get scientific on anything and broke it down as simply as possible. What they are, and what you need to do!

What Is a U-Value?

What is a k-Value?

What is an R-Value?

For Current Building Regulation U-Values Go Here:

What is a U-Value?

Also known as ‘Thermal Transmittance‘.

In short, A U-value is a measure of how effective a material (or composite of materials) is as an insulator. In the case of construction, it’s generally agreed to be the most reliable way to quickly determine how much heat energy will be lost through a building element, i.e. A Wall, Floor, Roof or Window. But, you likely won’t get U-Values on specific insulation products. It’s a holistic figure, taking into account many things.

The Lower the U-value the Better the Performance.

A U-value is the total of the thermal resistances (explained below) of the layers that make up an entire building element – for example, a Roof (slates, felt, joists, insulation), Wall (blocks, insulation, plaster) or Floor (concrete, sand, DPM, insulation & flooring).

It also includes adjustments for any fixings or air gaps, this is critical. As homes get warmer (more and more insulation) this is where a lot of heat is actually lost in a building. And this can be loads when it’s a badly built building. Heat takes the path of least resistance. You could have 5 ft of insulation, but with lots of cracks or gaps (installed by untrained builders), it’s pointless.

So this is why the U-Value is the benchmark for our understanding of heat loss in the Construction Industry. It kind of covers all corners. Also, this is why the Building Regulations mainly consider U-values. There’s that reason too. So we need to get them right.

Thermal Imaging Camera – ‘Red’ colour demonstrating excessive heat loss from home

What is a k-Value?

Don’t get confused by the Thermal Conductivity (k-Value). This is another similar measurement of heat loss but looks at specific materials alone. It considers the transport of energy through the material (i.e. through foam insulation, or through a concrete block, and so on). It doesn’t consider the thickness of the material. So not as useful as the U-Value, which does. But it’s great to determine the quality of an INSULATION product itself.

The lower the k-Value the better the material. This one is also called the Lambda Value!

A very good k-value for say insulation is 0.022 W/mK. Xtratherm, Kingspan and some others generally make their PIR insulation (the yellow-ish stuff with foil on both sides) to this figure. It’s as good as it gets (for what people can afford anyway). So 200mm PIR is much better than 100mm PIR. (but not twice as good, don’t ask).

Mineral wool (the fuzzy soft stuff) is usually cheaper but it’s just not as good an insulator. (it has other qualities, however; easier to install in tricky spaces, and great for damping sound). But it has a k-value of 0.044 W/mK, and as you can see it’s a lot higher than the PIR (which is a bad thing). We’ll go into the differences in another post.

Foil-backed PIR foam insulation being installed in a dormer roof.

What is an R-Value?

And then there’s Thermal Resistance, the R-Value. If you’re looking into insulation, maybe buying some in any of the large DIY stores, you’ll likely see a lot of R-Values printed on the packs. It’s a fairly useful measure but only focuses on the conduction of heat. Which is heat passing through the material. But heat transfers in various ways, remember physics class 101; conduction, convection and radiation.

Since U-Value considers all of these in some way, it just gives a more reliable figure overall.

The thermal resistance, or R-value, measures a material’s ability to prevent the flow of heat (hot or cold air) through a certain thickness, through 100mm insulation, 200mm of insulation for example.

The Higher The R-Value The Better The Insulation

Mineral Wool or ‘Rockwool’ type insulation installed in a cavity wall.

Part L Building Regulations 2019 ‘Dwellings’: U-Values

So here they are. The new 2019 U-Values we must carefully work to for new and existing dwellings. Ideally, you will be exceeding these values where possible. The difference in cost, in comparison to the overall building project, is marginal, and potential savings in heating costs over the lifetime of the home are considerable. And the Government’s Building regulations will likely reduce these again in the, not too distant future.

Refer to our page on nZEB buildings for more info on the big changes with regards to existing buildings in particular.

New Buildings – Part L 2019
Building ElementMinimum U-Value
Ground Floor (No Underfloor Heating)0.18W/m²K
Ground Floor (Underfloor Heating)0.15W/m²K
External Walls0.18W/m²k
Flat Roof0.20W/m²K
Pitched Roof (Sloping Ceilings; Rafter Level)0.16W/m²K
Cold Roof (Ceiling Level)0.16W/m²K
Existing Buildings Part L 2019
Building ElementMinimum U-Value
Ground Floor (No Underfloor Heating)0.45W/m²K
Ground Floor (Underfloor Heating)0.15W/m²K
External Walls (Cavity)0.55W/m²K**
External Walls (Other – Not Cavity)0.35W/m²K
Flat Roof0.25W/m²K
Pitched Roof (Sloping Ceilings; Rafter Level)0.25W/m²K
Cold Roof (Ceiling Level)0.16W/m²K
External Doors, Windows, Rooflights & Curtain Walling1.40W/m²K
stay safe from fire with ceardean architects

Fire Safety In Preschools

You Making Decisions Now To Protect All In The Future 

Ceardean Architects Have Extensive Experience Working With Creches & Preschools on All Architectural, Planning & Design Matters. Getting Fire Safety in Preschools Right Is Not Straightforward And Many Premises Sadly Fall Far Short Of What The Regulations Require.

We Specialise In Fire Safety Audits Of These Premises And Specifying Fire Safety Remedial Measures For Existing Creches, and Fire Safety Design For New Childcare Facilities.

In 2021 Derek Trenaman Gave A Deep Insightful presentation on Current Planning and Building Control Issues Affecting Preschool Owners In Ireland. Basically, The Rules Have Changed.

Have A Look Through, Might Help With Any Concerns You Have.

Don’t Hesitate To Contact Us If You Wish To Chat Further, We Have So Much Experience Here & Always Willing To Help Out.

Keeping Things Safe

Ceardean Architects.

Helpful Resources:



The Presentation


ceardean architects dublin
ceardean architects dublin
Front Elevation Victorian Home

Revamping a Victorian Cottage with architectural designed thinking

Revamping a Victorian Cottage with architectural design thinking

Ireland is full of beautiful older houses and as  owners move, they often become derelict and uninhabitable.  But when a 100-year-old cottage needs a revamp, there are specific concerns and requirements.  Our client contacted us as wanted an RIAI Architect II Accredited in Conservation practices to complete his home and give him the dream of restoring a Victorian Cottage.

Architect Derek Trenaman tells us about the property which is in a recognized ACA conservation area it requires a careful approach to repair and maintenance to ensure the unique character is preserved.  There was a chimney breast in poor condition at the rear of the property and refurbishment was required. 

Changing the position of the stairs is the first step to opening dark interiors and the rear of the house was opened up to the garden and a floor-to-ceiling glazing extension added gives a modern twist. The other benefit to moving the stairs was to improve the circulation of the home and given the entrance was narrow, the stairs being at the side reduces narrow rooms.

Calling the elegance of a time gone by, classic traditional monochrome black and white ceramic tiles were used to enhance a modern minimalist style, great for high traffic areas and a different texture/pattern. The Victorians loved the classical appeal of mosaic floor and what better way to make your entrance a talking point to family and friends.  

This home was transformed into an open  plan living/dining/kitchen. Installation of the roof-light over stairs brightens up interiors and improve natural ventilation. It provides an even distribution of light and illuminates the dark areas in a room that windows cannot reach. Rooflights now provide an ideal solution for introducing light as was the Victorians intention into agricultural buildings in the 18th century.

If you like the idea of our bespoke designs and fancy something a little different, please get in touch.

Ceardean Architects

[email protected]


01 5324183.

3D model Bespoke Home

Building a Bespoke Architectural Designed Home

Building a Bespoke Architectural Designed Home

You inevitably will ask, how long does it take to design a custom bespoke architecturally designed home?  On this home, Ceardean Architects were granted planning in 2016.  This is the time from the initial concept meeting, to construction.  There are many factors that can affect this greatly, but 2 years is a good starting point.

Preliminary design can take from 3 months to 12 months, depending on how prepared the client is, the size of the project and the complexity of the design. The Planning Authorities may differ greatly from area to area and third-party objections may affect the process.

3D model Bespoke Home

3D model Bespoke Home

Tendering, contractor interviews, and contract negotiation take time.  A number of factors come into play on the construction timeline, such as

  • the Size of the project.
  • The complexity of the footprint and the materials to be used.
  • Weather can be a factor but today we can track weather and record the down days.
  • Ensuring client makes timely decisions on ordering windows, kitchen and bathrooms is important and can stop your project coming to a halt. Lead in times can be anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Ensure you get reference’s from your contractor
  • The number of specialty sub-contractors, the more sub-contractors you contractor has can affect how long the project will take.

In this home, the client wants to achieve a Passive House Standard using unique concrete construction.  ICF Insulated Concrete Forms are formwork for concrete that stays in place as permanent building insulation for energy-efficient, cast-in-place, reinforced concrete walls, floors, and roofs. The forms lock together somewhat like Lego bricks and serve to create a form for the structural walls or floors of a building.  This gives the passive house a very high performance in insulation.

The project is now well under construction.

Construction of Bespoke home

Construction of Bespoke home

If you like the idea of our bespoke designs and fancy something a little different, please get in touch.

Ceardean Architects

[email protected]


01 5324183.

Victorian Home Renovation

This Tile Trick is a Game Changer for Small Bathroom Interior Design

This Tile Trick is a Game Changer for Small Bathroom Interior Design

It makes sense to think outside the box when you are decorating your bathroom.  Make the smallest room in your home the most interesting with a splash of color or a fresh new pattern.

Your choice of tile colors and styles are endless.  For smaller bathroom walls as in the Straffan home, we specified ceramic white wall tiles that are small in size. We divided the wall just over midway and added a splash of petrol blue paint.  The wash hand basin is free standing and oak hardwood floor.



Alternatively in this Glenbeigh home, why not Opt for a daring tile design or a sleek border for a subtle refresh as in this next home.  Forgo the ever-popular minimalist trend and amp up your otherwise boring bathroom with a splash of color or a fresh new pattern.

Bathroom Tiles

The Chase

This beautiful minimalist bathroom in the Chase is covered partially covered in white crisp white tiles, creating a sleek modern space that is elevated with the pop of color from wood paneling surrounding bath with Jet Black Liscannor tile.

Black and White

Wheatfield Palmerstown

The colors of this bathroom play a crucial role in creating visual value. So choose the perfect theme for your bathroom. Your theme will satisfy your mood with the right accessories and furniture. Here’s a project in Wheatfield, Palmerstown another idea of the bathroom with beige and cream colors.

Wheatfield Road

Wheatfield Road

Off Grid Living

This beautiful rustic home commands a unique bathroom, paneled in wood with bespoke bath and wash hand basin, surrounded by authentic stonework of 1930’s restored Irish Cottage.

Off Grid Living

Off Grid Living


In this home in Barberstown, the wash-hand basin and toilet are both wall-mounted.  This increases the flow of space and allows for easy cleaning of the floor. Consider a corner unit for added storage. The mirror makes the room feel larger than it is and reflects the abundance of natural light from the skylight.  The wash basin has drawers underneath adding more storage to the tiny space. The shower has a simple chrome and glass door and fits snugly into the bathroom.



Victorian Home

The #piece de resistance” is without a doubt the stunning bath, with roof-light ensuring it receives an abundance of light making it more spacious.

Black and White Bathroom

A black and white bathroom is a contemporary and classic style choice, and it’s easy to stamp your own personality onto and make it something new and unique.  Black absorbs, while white reflects, which is why the combination is a great choice creating real impact.  It also works well in a functional space, where bold angles and clean lines tend to dominate.

Add your own unique style using cubed-design floor tiles.

If you like the idea of our designs and fancy something a little different, please get in touch.


Ceardean Architects

[email protected]


01 5324183

1950's Bungalow Reconfigured
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Our Architect’s Essential Tips for Designing your Modern Dream Kitchen

Our Architect’s Essential Tips for Designing your dream kitchen

The interior design and layout of your kitchen is the real soul of your home and much more than just cooking but also family congregations, so there is a need to put it in the context of the homes’ public spaces or the adjacent spaces.  In older houses, the kitchen tends to be isolated and often small.  Today, our clients want kitchen’s that incorporate a workspace and a casual space for dining or even working.  See photos from our Straffan home.

Open Living Space

Open Living SpaceWorkspaces and Storage

Our clients want efficient workspaces and plenty of storage. In order to combine the workspace and casual “hanging out” space, an island is the standard way to do this or a breakfast table nearby.  This can be done by creating a little breakfast area in the kitchen with built up casual seating for a living room effect feel.  Alternatively creating a space to sit, reflect and look out at garden views.  These two spaces need to be fused together so they don’t look as if they are imposed on each other.

Kitchen Island

Upper cabinets, yes or no?  While upper cabinets are practical you can make the cabinet fronts solid and uniform or create a sense of openness with glass fronts.  Our client in the above kitchen went for a wall of upper cabinets with toplight being of glass.  Glass fronted cabinets create depth and make the kitchen feel more spacious. You can put in obscure (frosted or ridged) glass. One way around storage solutions is to have pull-out storage drawers.

Microwaves can be unsightly and this needs to be considered early in the planning decision.  They can be accommodated in a pull-out shelf or behind an island.  There are more attractive in-wall ovens/microwave that combines both.

If a kitchen extractor fan is in the field of vision, it has to be taken seriously, otherwise, it will be a visual distraction.

Built in seating area

Built in seating areaCountertop / Use of Natural Materials

We love the feel of the”perfect countertop”, using organic materials White Marble, the white the better giving the illusion of space and compliments the natural light coming from all sides of the room.  Choice of materials is important and we gather all samples early on and look at them together as a set. We revisit it several times over the course of the design to ensure the best fit of colors is chosen.

Functional Spaces

A key element is also having an exterior space, which is a big bonus.  It’s nice if you can add a deck and create a place to eat outside or have a barbecue.

Exterior Space

Exterior Space

The most desirable design elements in a kitchen are Natural Light.  The Pop-up Rooflights really work for ensuring an abundance of light.  There is a real benefit to a sink with a view!

Ceardean Architects

[email protected]


01 5324183

Contemporary Living Dublin 12

Contemporary Living in Dublin 12 by Ceardean Architects

Another contemporary Ceardean Architects Designed Home in Dublin 12


Delivering aesthetically appealing contemporary buildings.  Ceardean Architects work in strong collaboration with clients to achieve cost-effective and functional designs time after time.

This home in Crumlin, Dublin 12 has almost doubled the usable space available, adding a contemporary flavor to what was a standard semi-detached dwelling.  Using innovative rainwater system that efficiently hides the points where water discharges from roof level and using a beautiful cedar clad exterior to a powerful effect, the crisp clean lines of the building make the corner stand out giving it the wow factor.

The external skin of the building must have four essential characteristics, durability, resistance to moisture penetration, uniform weathering and an attractive appearance.  If you are choosing timber for the exterior of your home, then the primary considerations are quality and durability.

Hardwoods do not require treating but are considerably more expensive. Western red cedar has a life-span of up to 60 years because it contains a natural preservative, making the wood uncommonly durable in its natural state. It is also highly regarded for its insulation qualities and natural resistance to the elements.

Ceardean Architects

[email protected]


01 5324183