Reviving Ireland's Heritage: Vacant Property Refurbishment

Government Funding Program Breathes New Life into Vacant or Derelict Properties

ceardean architect cottage renovation

An 1800s Derelict Cottage in Sligo was completely reimagined with a large Vaulted roof extension, yet retaining the entire cottage structure. Now a modern functional home but with many of the old world features hidden in a stunning country setting. Ceardean Architects have overseen the completion of many exciting projects like this across Ireland so very happy to see this much needed Government support.

Overview Of The Program

As of 2023 Government Reports state there's a staggering 87,000 Vacant Dwellings in Ireland, 21,000 of which are considered 'Derelict'. Derelict here means the building is structural unsound or near ruin, so basically uninhabitable. These houses are found in all parts of the country with the majority naturally being in more rural areas, and many in stunning parts of the country too.

Architects by their nature see past the crumbling walls or collapsing roofs and see the house for what it could be, not what it is. Every one of these old buildings could become something fantastic with the right people, right design and essential up-for-a challenge attitude.

Thankfully the Government also see the potential of this vacant stock and how it can contribute to helping ease the housing crisis. And are therefore offering quite handsome grants to those willing to explore this route to a special home for life.

As Architects we understand the creative design ideas needed to turn such buildings into modern functioning homes. And the deep construction knowledge required to ensure the house is made efficient on energy, well ventilated, warm in winter and cool in summer and water tight and airtight.

Two types of grants are available; up to €70,000 for the renovation of a derelict house and €50, 000 for a vacant property. There are various conditions associated with the securing of these grants and links to the relevant information and application process is at the bottom of this page.

The great news is that existing Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEAI) grants for home energy upgrades can also be used in tandem with these new grants, up to a value of €26, 750.

The Government have also announced a pilot scheme offering a grant towards the conservation assessment of the property by a qualified professional (RIAI registered architect for example), to a value of €7,500. This allows the potential home owner to have a comprehensive inspection, survey and report completed for the dwelling along with recommendations about what could be done to the house to bring it to a high modern living standard.

Why Architects Play A Vital Role

Architects are central to this revitalisation effort. Their expertise in preserving old or historical buildings while incorporating modern amenities is crucial to the success of these projects. At Ceardean Architects, we're excited to be part of this movement, collaborating with property owners, developers, and communities to transform Ireland's vacant properties into vibrant, habitable spaces.

Considerations of Vacant Properties

The Charms of Derelict Houses

Derelict houses are like time capsules, preserving the essence of a time past. Before embarking on a renovation project, good architects will immerse themselves in the history of the house and its surroundings. Understanding the architectural style, materials used, and any historical significance is crucial for creating a renovation plan that respects the house's heritage.

Assessing the Condition

Thorough assessment is the first step in any renovation project. Architects will evaluate the structural integrity of the derelict house which includes checking for signs of decay, water damage,
and any other issues that need immediate attention. The goal is to ensure a safe and stable foundation for the renovation.

Designing the Renovation

The Architect's creative vision comes into play during this phase.
They must balance the preservation of the house's character with modern functionality.
Sustainable design principles can also be incorporated, making the house more energy-efficient
and environmentally friendly. This chapter explores the creative process, from concept to 3D Models and 2D plans.

Materials and Techniques

Restoring a derelict house often involves sourcing authentic materials and employing traditional construction techniques. Architects should work closely with skilled craftsmen to ensure that the renovation captures the essence of the original structure.

Modern Amenities

While preserving history is paramount, modern amenities should not be overlooked. Architects can creatively incorporate contemporary features such as energy-efficient heating systems, smart home technology, and open-plan living spaces into the design without compromising the house's character.

Explore how we can make derelict houses more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, reducing their carbon footprint and operating costs.

Why Work With Us?

Ceardean Architects have a wealth of rare hands-on experience working with such buildings, and offer Creative and Modern designs that both fit clients needs but strive to retain the traditional feel of these houses. Therefore we only rely on tried and tested construction methods and look to sustainable technologies; to boost efficiency, ensure our homes are warm in winter and that fresh air is plentiful through all seasons.

The possibilities are vast with vacant old homes but to achieve something wonderful, the project requires a dedicated team of likeminded experienced professionals all working closely together with one goal in mind. In-house we have RIAI Registered Architects/Conservation Architect, Energy experts, interior designers, experienced construction detailers and 3D modelling specialists. We work with the same structural engineering firm on many projects who bring their own expert advice on all structural issues.

Our own Derek Trenaman transformed an abandoned cottage himself, and has since extended it substantially Read More


This derelict Fisherman's cottage in the West Of Ireland was renovated by Ceardean Architects and converted to an off-grid holiday home. This house has since been extended into a larger contemporary home yet retaining the cottage in it's original style to one side.

Vacant House Design Package

✓ A Home or Video Consultation Briefing Meeting

✓Site Visit and Accurate Survey of Property

✓ Analysis Drawings of House and Early Stage Sketches

✓ 3 Developed Layout Design Options (Sometimes more are necessary)

✓3D Model Of The Preferred Options

✓ Environmental Design Concept and Site Scheme Drawing

✓ Outline Elevation Design Drawings

✓ Ongoing Design and Planning Advice

€1,500 plus vat

Let's Start Talking About Your Exciting Project


If you have unanswered questions about any of this, want to chat ideas with one of our architects, don't hesitate to contact Sarah at 01-5324183, we'd be delighted to help.
Send A Message via the form here.
(During work hours Sarah will call within a few minutes and gather some details. Then one of our architects, Derek, Michael or Nick, will take it from there).
Ceardean Architects
Take The First Step

Some Helpful Links

Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant

Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage

Official Government Release & Applications Forms/Downloads

Pilot Scheme Supporting Pre-works Conservation Assessment of Property

New pilot scheme offers grants to ready vacant farmhouses for refurbishment

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Homes Energy Grants

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