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
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.

Kildare, Barberstown, Extension - Exterior

Ceardean Architects Merge 3 Consecutive Builds In Kildare

Modern Country Living In Barberstown, Kildare

An excellent example where three separate building projects on the one dwelling finally came together in July 2018. A new flat roof extension to the rear left side of the home harmonized perfectly with previous modern extension to the right. The original building was pitched roof throughout.

This dwelling is located near Barberstown Castle in Co. Kildare and was completed in almost record time by AK Builders. Further photos will be presented soon but for now, enjoy these few Client provided shots.

Kildare, Barberstown, Extension 2

Kildare, Barberstown, Extension Two

Simon Community

Dublin Simon Community & Ceardean Architects

Dublin Simon Community

Dublin Simon Community provides services to over 5,100 people and families each year across Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Please click on the links below to view more.

Ceardean Architects are delighted to be supporting The Open Door campaign with The Simon Communities.

We have committed a number of slots which are available to book on the Simon Open Door website.

Simon Open Door 2018 Poster

Only a limited number of slots are available to get in touch quickly!


Kildare Extension

The Home Design Guide – Get You Thinking!


Ceardean Architects are delighted to offer a short and simple Home Design Guide and it’s for free of course. We don’t even ask for your email.

This guide will quickly get you thinking about what you might want to do and hopefully give you some ideas too.


Aldo, Shoot over to our Youtube page for loads of videos of past projects for more ideas.


Simon Community

Simon Open House 2018

Dublin Simon Community

Ceardean Architects

Dublin Simon Community provides services to over 5,100 people and families each year across Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Wicklow who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Please click on the links below to view more.

Ceardean Architects are delighted to be supporting The Open Door campaign with The Simon Communities.

We have committed a number of slots which are available to book on the Simon Open Door website.

Simon Open Door 2018 Poster

Only a limited number of slots are available to get in touch quickly!




Positive Green Action

Read some excellent news from the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten issued this week.

This news has most likely come because, as a nation, we are a little behind in our carbon emmisions reduction commitments. Either way, offering
grants to households, and businesses, to create and use their own power, is green music to our green ears.


Read the full Irish Times article here.


Ceardean Architects


‘One Man’s Quest’ – Our Very Own Derek

Flashback here to a great 2015 article about our chief Architect Derek’s
zero energy cottage in Sligo.

IF RUNNING AWAY and escaping all the madness sounds like something you’d be into -read on.

This holiday cottage originally built in 1820. It was renovated by Derek Trenaman of Ceardean Architects and is a lesson in getting off the grid altogether.