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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,

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

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 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

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
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

Short-term Property Letting

Change In Legislation On Short-Term Letting – Impact on Airbnb Property and others



The introduction by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government of the new regulations in respect of short-term letting will mean that all existing residential units which are used for the purpose of short-term rental i.e. for 14 days or less at a time, will require the benefit of Planning permission for a change of use to short-term lettings (STL).

The political agenda is that this is an unregulated activity and is not home sharing but a commercial enterprise. In a time of low housing construction to meet demand, and in an environment of increasing onerous residential tenancy reforms, the withdrawal of rental homes from the letting market, will be deemed “unacceptable” (to use the ministers words) particularly in our cities and large towns where rents are high and supply is constrained.

We understand the changes are to regulate for the first time short-term lettings, however, they will impact all existing rentals. Homeowners will be required to register with their local authority as a ‘homesharing’ rental of their primary residence where an annual cap of 90 days will apply.

Commercial rental properties will only be allowed where the use is already permitted to be used for tourism/short-term letting purposes. Otherwise planning permission for a change of use to STL will have to be applied for. The minister’s direction, (and we presume a further circular, advising will be issued) is that in areas of high housing demand, it is unlikely that permission would be granted. It will be up to each local Planning Authority to grant permissions. It is understood that additional resources will be provided within Dublin City Council’s Planning Section to monitor the supply of short-term lettings on the relevant booking sites, oversee the compilation of registers and to monitor enforcement.

It is intended that the new planning changes will come into effect on 1 June 2019, to allow property owners to prepare for and adapt to the new laws. There would seem an opportunity to have existing properties legitimised before the introduction of the regulations.

Contact us if any further explanation of the forthcoming regulation is required.

Ceardean Architects

[email protected]

01 5324183

Indo Talk Containers!

Containers Appear Obvious, but there is more to this.

Read A Nice Piece here from Geraldine Gittens about the possibility of low-cost housing in the form of Steel Containers. There is no doubt housing crisis requires some very creative and bold thinking. But are Containers the right direction?

Our Own Michael Malone of Ceardean Architects brings a different angle to this national problem promoting the use of modular type housing. They are equally lower in cost but arrive in a much more ‘fit for use’  state and tend towards today’s higher standard of living comfort.

Link here!