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    Discover the Dublin 4 renovation project designed for three generations

    Switching your mortgage could provide extra funds to add new details to your home. For Sooby and her family, their clever renovation has resulted in a house that works for everyone

    Sponsored by Ulster Bank

    In part of 11 of our Switch it Up series, we discover the directional, multi-generational renovation of the home of content creator Sooby Lynch. This Sandymount home was built in the 1930s and has been passed from mother to daughter for almost four generations. Now, it has been transformed into a home that works well for three generations of the same family.
    “I’ve lived here nearly all my life,” Lynch says. “It was my great-grandmother’s originally and there is a tradition of someone either inheriting or buying the house and keeping it in the family. I think it’s great because in the future, as my parents get older, it will be easier for me to care for them,” she says.
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    Lynch and husband Paul, daughters Marnie (3) and Penny (8), plus parents Sheila and James live between the original three bed semi-detached house and a new one bedroom annex apartment.
    Before lockdown the couple had launched a 39-seater boutique theatre in the centre of Dublin. As they wait to focus on that in 2021, Lynch is working with brands through her Instagram account @standingbythewall. She’s also giving her all to finishing the renovation of the family home.

    The newly-finished exterior of the house, complete with contemporary slate coloured windows and front door, allows access for Lynch’s parents to the side.

    The couple bought the property from her parents five years ago with the intention of breathing new life into the space. A ground floor apartment to the side of the property for her parents to live in was a priority. The completed annex now includes a kitchen, living area, bedroom with en suite and a guest toilet. Her parents can walk directly into their new home from the main driveway, which is perfect for her dad, who has mobility issues.
    Architects Finnegan Jackson were on hand for the design, but Lynch’s original idea for a “super modern build” was rejected by planners. “It didn’t look anything like the rest of the area, so we changed it and the new plan was accepted,” she says.

    Priorities are vital when it comes to planning a build, and for Lynch, she knew what she wanted to achieve with her budget.
    The most important element to get right was a working kitchen. “Originally there was a breakfast room, with lots of little spaces, there were no counter tops, and appliances were all over the place. I really wanted a kitchen that worked well for cooking and baking, but also space to just hang out in,” she says.
    And so, in order to achieve that goal and to drench the property in light, the couple knocked several ground floor walls. They were careful to leave folding doors into the living room, an original 1930s feature, in order to have one area separate from the rest of the open plan space.
    Compromises had to be made in order to stay on budget. “We had poured resin floors on our wishlist, but they’re expensive,” she says. “We decided to change the windows instead – so we cut other stuff from the budget to do that. I’m delighted we did it as it’s so cosy now. We just painted the original floorboards over lockdown instead and they look lovely.”
    Industrial steps now lead down to the extended, spacious kitchen. “I gave the metalwork guy photos of fire escapes. When they were put in they did look really industrial, but I painted them white and they look great.”
    A free-standing American style fridge/freezer is a bold centrepiece in the room, and the couple splashed out on a hob with integrated downdraft extractor.

    At the entrance to the kitchen is a functional walk through pantry, which also houses the microwave. They achieved the impactful high ceilings by digging down to garden level – which is a clever way to achieve a feeling of space.
    Lynch didn’t stop there. She carefully considered lots of other ways to make the house function for them during their renovation. An upstairs laundry room that must be the envy of friends was non-negotiable ­– the concept behind it to “make the chore an absolute joy”.
    “It was to make the whole wash, dry, fold, iron and put away an enjoyable and easy job. There is a washing machine, dryer, hot press and counter space for sorting,” she says.

    An image saved from Pinterest has now become a reality and takes pride of place in the family bathroom. “My pink sink is a total joy. I could talk about the pink sink all the time,” she laughs. “Our old bathroom was dingy and very small. The water wouldn’t stay warm, the water pressure was horrendous, the hot tap on the sink didn’t work and there was no freestanding shower. So the big bath, powerful hot spacious shower, and all the storage is just great. It’s a very calm enjoyable space to spend time and relax in,” she says.
    Décor is a key component of this home and with a distinctive monochrome palette throughout, Lynch’s inspiration comes from New York loft apartments.
    “I’m into the plain minimalist look,” she agrees. But she doesn’t think you have to splash out to achieve it. “The décor is quite budget-friendly, and most of the storage is Ikea. We splashed out on an expensive couch from Sofa So Good in Navan. All four of us can now sit comfortably on it which I love.”
    With the line between indoor and outdoor becoming ever more blurred, long term plans include a garden that can be used as an extension to the kitchen. The couple eventually hope to convert the attic into a den or a bedroom for their eldest daughter, and a home office is another possibility, if restrictions continue.

    Daughter Penny’s bedroom is airy and bright and filled with interest

    Building started in September 2019 and a completion date of six months was given but the pandemic saw the process stall. “We rushed to get my parents’ part finished and they’re in now which is brilliant,” she says.
    While most of the work is complete, the finishing touches will be done on an incremental basis, she says. “It’s a million times better than it was,” she smiles. “We really appreciate the level we have gotten it to.”
    Lynch says their living situation has been a dream for her family during lockdown, with everyone blissfully co-existing.  “I can’t believe how lucky I am to live here and have my mum and dad right next door, knowing we can look after them and see them every day. It’s just the perfect set up.”
    About Switch it Up
    Switch it Up is a new 12-part series for those who might be considering switching mortgage provider to make savings on their monthly repayments. It is a follow-up to the award-winning Story of Home series, which explored the idea of home through the eyes of creative people who found their dream place to live.
    Now, Switch it Up, which like Story of Home is supported by Ulster Bank, looks at helpful information on home improvements as well as renovators’ home tours. Plus, we’ve got helpful answers to your mortgage switching queries: from the incentives to how long it will take (not long!) and what’s involved in making a mortgage switch, read our Everything you need to know about switching your mortgage guide at irishtimes.com/switchitup.
    Perhaps now more than ever, we want our homes to suit the way we live and work, and being able to explore the potential in our homes offers us flexibility. This series is designed to unlock the ways in which we might Switch it Up in our homes as our wants and needs change.
    Switching your mortgage could free up funds to help you make these changes. “At Ulster Bank, we want to be a part of the journey you take in making your home the best it can be,” says Sean Kellaghan, mobile mortgage manager at Ulster Bank.
    “We want to make the mortgage switching process as simple and as hassle free as you do,” he adds. Kellaghan understands the stress that can come with making a switch, and he offers reassurance.
    “We are here to help you, and the process is a lot shorter and a lot more straightforward than you might think. Get in touch today and we can talk you through the options and process.”
    For more information, visit ulsterbank.ie
    Ulster Bank Ireland DAC is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland More

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    Go up, go out: which extension type is right for you?

    Lots of us need more space or want to maximise what we already have. Potential savings from a mortgage switch, combined with additional funds could be the way to create a dream layout   Sponsored by Ulster Bank   For many of us, space has become something we’ve been thinking a lot about over the…
    The post Go up, go out: which extension type is right for you? appeared first on MyHome.ie Advice & Blog. More

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    Cosy and colourful: this Wicklow cottage is a décor delight

    Switching your mortgage could offer you the opportunity to create your perfect space. For designer Emma Edmonds, doing the work herself is all part of the charm

    Sponsored by Ulster Bank

    In part eight of our Switch it Up series, we discover the cosy country cottage owned by interior designer Emma Edmonds. Lockdown was a time when many chose to try their hand at some form of amateur DIY, but when you’re a professional like Emma is, and you’re working from home, house renovations can be taken to a whole other level.
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    Emma works as a designer and colour consultant for Stillorgan Décor and lives with her dog Maxi, “the love of her life”, in a beautifully renovated home in Ashford, Co Wicklow.
    A stand-alone cottage, it is a stone’s throw from Mount Usher Gardens and Avoca, and is compact in size with a sitting room, kitchen, bedroom and a dressing room, as well as a wonderful porch that blends the inside with the outdoors, which was built by Emma’s dad.

    Having bought her house 10 years ago, since then she has worked hard to turn it into her dream home. Plenty of inspiration came from visiting Martha’s Vineyard in the US on a trip with her mum a couple of years back.
    “The house was built in 1984 and when I bought it, it was liveable, but a little run down. I’m on my own, I didn’t have anyone to help me financially or otherwise so my mum, dad and brother were great,” Emma says. “They came in and ripped up smelly carpets, took out old cupboards and a few big sheds out the back. Since then, I have made it more old-world. I love the white picket fence look in America and have incorporated that style into the house.”
    In her own words, Emma is “never done” updating the cottage in some shape or form, mostly by her own hand, and at little expense. But renovating took on a whole new meaning recently. Tearing down walls, building patios and painting everything in sight are just some of her newest accomplishments. It gave her “little time to worry” she says.

    “In my bedroom, there was a plaster board wall that stuck out and I could never get the bed in the right place. I tried everything including patterned wallpaper but nothing worked, so one night I took a hammer to it and knocked down the wall,” she laughs.
    Taking inspiration from American interior designer and presenter of TV show ‘Fixer Upper’, Joanna Gaines, she decided to put shiplap panelling on the wall instead.
    “On the show they find terrible houses in good areas and renovate them. When they pull off the wallpaper they almost always find this thing called shiplap, which is planks of wood going across the wall. I hid the old wall by putting that up myself. I ordered the timber locally, clicked it together, screwed it to the wall and painted it white. That changed the room hugely for me. I keep it very neutral, all white, and seasonally, I add pops of colour,” she says.
    The bedroom is the only room where colour takes a rest. The rest of the house pops with black accents, deep forest hues, earthy neutrals and candy pinks.

    “I am a visual magpie and there are no rules in this house when it comes to the pieces I fill it with. It’s a mix of antiques and modern and I have loads of old photos everywhere,” Emma says. “My grandmother was a huge influence on me – I lived with her when I was going to college. She was a really good gardener and won awards for it. I have her picture in the kitchen, watching over me as I’m cooking the apple sponge she taught me how to make.”
    As a colour consultant, Emma knows you can rip up the rule-book. “People are sick of greys and that industrial look and are going for rich earthy tones, so I have Farrow & Ball’s Sap Green in the sitting room, which is really warm and cosy.”
    Recently she painted another sitting room wall a deep mustard – so it, “now looks like a pumpkin latte”. A large mirror and ornate black fireplace complete the décor here.
    “In lockdown, I also painted the kitchen cabinets black and papered the ceiling with a tin-effect wallpaper to give it that honky-tonk vibe. Everything is on a budget, and is usually done by me,” she says.

    One of her favourite spots is her American-style porch, which doubles up as another room. It’s the perfect spot to have a drink or cup of tea with a friend, especially while restrictions are in place. “It’s covered on all sides but open to the elements and is so handy in summer,” she says.
    The garden is her haven. “It slows you down. I recently made a patio out the back, it nearly killed me but I didn’t have time to worry while lifting slabs,” she laughs, adding, “I have a day bed on the porch so I plonk down there and read a book while listening to birds singing, which is heaven.”

    While Emma is happy to turn her hand to almost any DIY task, she did pass on fixing a leaky roof. “A really good local builder sorted me out ­– he got me a roofer and took down the old popcorn ceiling. It was upsetting when it happened, but I have a new ceiling there now and it’s plastered and painted. That’s the one job I couldn’t do myself,” she says.
    Next on the agenda is a possible attic conversion. “The perfect place to showcase all my Vogue magazines”, she says. Whether Emma takes on that particular project herself remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say, no better woman for the job.
    About Switch it Up
    Switch it Up is a new 12-part series for those who might be considering switching mortgage provider to make savings on their monthly repayments. It is a follow-up to the award-winning Story of Home series, which explored the idea of home through the eyes of creative people who found their dream place to live.
    Now, Switch it Up, which like Story of Home is supported by Ulster Bank, looks at helpful information on home improvements as well as renovators’ home tours. Plus, we’ve got helpful answers to your mortgage switching queries: from the incentives to how long it will take (not long!) and what’s involved in making a mortgage switch, read our Everything you need to know about switching your mortgage guide at irishtimes.com/switchitup.
    Perhaps now more than ever, we want our homes to suit the way we live and work, and being able to explore the potential in our homes offers us flexibility. This series is designed to unlock the ways in which we might Switch it Up in our homes as our wants and needs change.
    Switching your mortgage could free up funds to help you make these changes. “At Ulster Bank, we want to be a part of the journey you take in making your home the best it can be,” says Sean Kellaghan, mobile mortgage manager at Ulster Bank.
    “We want to make the mortgage switching process as simple and as hassle free as you do,” he adds. Kellaghan understands the stress that can come with making a switch, and he offers reassurance.
    “We are here to help you, and the process is a lot shorter and a lot more straightforward than you might think. Get in touch today and we can talk you through the options and process.”
    For more information, visit ulsterbank.ie
    Ulster Bank Ireland DAC is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland

    Tags: Switch It Up, Ulster Bank

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    How to get a warm, energy-efficient home now and into the future

    Improving your BER rating is a great way to reduce bills. Potential savings from switching your mortgage along with access to grants could be the way to create your own cosy home

    Sponsored by Ulster Bank

    This winter our homes will be our havens. We are likely to be working from them, relaxing in them and we will likely be using more light, heat and energy than ever before as a result. Lots are thinking about an energy retrofit right now too, because insulation and heating upgrades can greatly improve comfort levels in the home – as well as reducing our energy bills.
    So, in part seven of our Switch it Up series, we’re talking to two experts who explain how to maximise the efficiency of our homes.
    Many of us are a bit bamboozled by the process of upgrading our properties, and are unaware of the grants available to help us to bring our home from a low building energy rating (BER) to a higher one.
    A BER is a grading, from the highest at A1, to the lowest at G, on how much energy a home requires for heating, hot water, lighting and ventilation. The goal for many is to have an A-rated home. Better for the environment, achieving it will save you lots in energy bills – but many homes are nowhere near this grade.
    Architect Gearoid Carvill of ABGC Architects explains what a bad BER means for a property and how to achieve a better one. “CSO statistics tell us that more than 50 per cent of housing in Ireland is D-rated or lower, so most of us have direct experience of bad BERs. Typically, a lower grade means that the house is more expensive to run.
    “Studies show that improving BERs add value to homes and that changing up one level, say from C2 to C1, equates to a 1 per cent increase in property value,” he says.
    To improve a BER, the simplest and most inexpensive changes can help. “I have seen refurbishment projects where you could improve the rating by swapping out the light bulbs with LEDs,” he reveals.
    When considering a more significant energy efficient retrofit of a property, Carvill recommends homeowners start with the ‘thermal envelope’ – that’s the walls, floors, roof and windows.
    “In an uninsulated home, a third of the heat is lost through the roof,” he says. “Insulate your attic with a minimum of 350mm quilt insulation in layers between, and above the ceiling timbers. You could also insulate the water tank if uncovered.”
    “Then look to heating controls and update your heating system. You could replace an oil or gas boiler with a heat pump or by adding solar, to heat hot water, which can be done with an existing tank. Update heating to controls for time, temperature and zonal, if feasible. An individual thermostat costs from €70 to €200. Thermostatic radiator valves sense the temperature in the room and adjust the flow. They are inexpensive, less than €20 a radiator,” he adds.

    For retrofit refurbishment there’s a holy trinity: comfort, economy and environment. If done right you should achieve all three, regardless of which is your priority.

    Wall insulation and window upgrades go together. The cost of insulating a compact three bed semi-detached property could be around €14,000 to €16,000, but significant grants exist towards the work. The price for triple-glazed AluClad windows will be similar, he adds.
    Typically the average 3-bed semi-detached property will perform much better and be more comfortable once work is done.
    In terms of your energy costs, “previously published data by the SEAI suggests that for a 3-bedroom semi, the costs per annum could be €190 for an A1-rated home, and €4,000 for the G-rated home,” he says.
    Grant help
    While there are significant costs attached to many of the works, grants of up to €6,000 are available for most of them from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
    Tom Halpin, head of communications with SEAI, says to apply for a grant, start with a BER assessment carried out by a SEAI-registered assessor. The certificate and advisory report provided will explain what works can be undertaken to improve the home’s energy performance, and what works should be prioritised.
    There are a range of grants available. “There are grants for attic and wall insulation which make the home cosier and keep in heat,” he says.
    “Once you have sealed your home and it is more efficient, you move to improving the heating system. Grants for heating controls are available and we are also encouraging renewable heating systems in the home – that could be solar panels to generate hot water or going all the way towards using a heat pump. The lowest grant is €400 for attic insulation and highest is €6,000 for external wall insulation on a detached house,” Halpin says.
    Once you have decided on the works you want to have carried out, the process of applying for a grant is quite simple.
    “You must decide what contractor you want to use – and there are hundreds of contractors from across the country listed on the SEAI website that are committed to the terms and conditions of the grant scheme. They have the properly qualified staff to do the work and can be inspected by us at any time,” he says.
    “You need a metre point reference number which is written at the top of a bill from your electricity supplier. You then go online, put in all your details and select the measures you would like to undertake, and the contractor that you want to use, and you will get almost an instantaneous approval if all of that is in order.
    “You then have eight months in which to get the works done. Once you get the offer, you can schedule works with various contractors. Grants are paid directly into your bank account or can be paid directly to the contractor. You must then get a BER assessment carried out after the works to see the uplift to the property,” he finishes.
    Homeowners can also engage with energy supply companies such as SSE and ESB, which offer to manage the works as it helps towards their energy reduction targets.
    One major benefit to an energy retrofit is that a BER rating generally translates to a higher resale value of the property. However, Halpin says this isn’t usually a homeowner’s motivation.
    “The first big benefit is the comfort in their home, and research has shown people realise immediately that comfort,” he adds.
    For retrofit refurbishment there’s a holy trinity, Gearoid Carvill says. It is “comfort, economy and environment. If done right you should achieve all three, regardless of which is your priority.”
    About Switch it Up
    Switch it Up is a new 12-part series for those who might be considering switching mortgage provider to make savings on their monthly repayments. It is a follow-up to the award-winning Story of Home series, which explored the idea of home through the eyes of creative people who found their dream place to live.
    Now, Switch it Up, which like Story of Home is supported by Ulster Bank, looks at helpful information on home improvements as well as renovators’ home tours. Plus, we’ve got helpful answers to your mortgage switching queries: from the incentives to how long it will take (not long!) and what’s involved in making a mortgage switch, read our Everything you need to know about switching your mortgage guide at irishtimes.com/switchitup.
    Perhaps now more than ever, we want our homes to suit the way we live and work, and being able to explore the potential in our homes offers us flexibility. This series is designed to unlock the ways in which we might Switch it Up in our homes as our wants and needs change.
    Switching your mortgage could free up funds to help you make these changes. “At Ulster Bank, we want to be a part of the journey you take in making your home the best it can be,” says Sean Kellaghan, mobile mortgage manager at Ulster Bank.
    “We want to make the mortgage switching process as simple and as hassle free as you do,” he adds. Kellaghan understands the stress that can come with making a switch, and he offers reassurance.
    “We are here to help you, and the process is a lot shorter and a lot more straightforward than you might think. Get in touch today and we can talk you through the options and process.”
    For more information, visit ulsterbank.ie
    Ulster Bank Ireland DAC is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland More

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    Mortgage approvals can be extended for would-be buyers

    People who had been intending to buy a property before the Covid-19 lockdown who are already mortgage approved have been advised that they can seek an extension period to their mortgage approval as long as their circumstances have not changed. The current pandemic has meant that many would-be purchasers are unable to follow through on […] More