Tuesday, July 26, 2016

DUBLIN BASED SERVICE

For Dublin visits email anthony@helpmyhouse.ie  or ring 01 6683519 and we will schedule a visit within 2 days for the fixed fee of €150 (incl. VAT).

Following over 600 customers since our launch in September 2009 Help My House is now adjusting to becoming a Dublin based service as opposed to an all Ireland service.  For customers outside Dublin we recommend you contact RIAI on 01 6761703 who will be happy to advise on local architects who service residential buildings.

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Building Control Regulations - what are they?

Since March 1st 2014 new houses, extensions over 40m2 and buildings which are subject to a Fire Safety Certificate (for example, certain alterations and most commercial work) are subject to new Building Control Regulations.

(i) Building owners (of the above) will now need to appoint a 
design certifier (an architect, engineer or building surveyor) 
prior to construction.  The design certifier will confirm that the 
design complies with Building Regulations.  

(ii) The building owner will also have to appoint an assigned 
certifier (an architect, engineer or building surveyor) to certify, along with the builder, during construction, that the building is constructed in compliance with Building Regulations.

In practice this will lead to greater oversight of both the design and construction processes but, being a private function, will attract more fees for the building owner.  Our current estimate is that the service would increase the fees (to architect) by somewhere in the region of 20-35%. 

Background

Approximately one year ago the Government and Department of Environment, Community and Local Government (DoELG) passed S.I. no. 80 of 2013 into law but it contained some fundamental flaws which made its operation “uninsurable” by Professional Indemnity providers. A huge effort was put in (mainly voluntary) by RIAI committees, Council Members and staff, in conjunction with other stakeholders, to make the system workable and insurable.  The outcome was the adoption of S.I no.9 of 2014 (replacing S.I.80 of 2013) in January of 2014 about five weeks before the enactment date of March 1st 2014. A Code of Practice issued by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government explains this law in greater detail.


Minister of DoELG Phil Hogan's view was that the RIAI, amongst other professional bodies, had a year to prepare it's members but, as the updated S.I. is only just out now, the RIAI has only recently begun to train it's members.  The new mandatory online lodgement system (for Commencement Notices) only became available on March 1st and the entire system is a challenge to clients, practitioners and local authorities alike due to lack of any meaningful run-in period. We at Help My House are prepared for these new regulations and will continue to serve our clients in the best possible way.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

BUDGET SCHEME WELCOMED WITH CAUTION BY HELP MY HOUSE


Anthony Brabazon, founder of Help My House, welcomes the budget announcement of 
The home renovation tax incentive (HRI) scheme which will run for the next two years and give a tax credit of 13.5 per cent on money spent on renovations between €5,000 up to a maximum of €30,000. Projects above this value will also benefit from tax relief on first €30,000.
Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said during his budget speech that qualifying work would include work such as window-fitting, plumbing, tiling and plastering.
Anthony said that such an incentive should prove the necessary encouragement to homeowners to "get that job done" but advises that architectural advice, as offered by Help My House nationwide, is invaluable in spending such money wisely. "We have sadly seen too many examples of people starting construction works with a rush of blood to the head only to be left in tears at the end due to the absence of professional advice". He adds "It's nice to see tax compliant builders being supported after years of being undercut by the black market". More information on the scheme is available at http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/it/reliefs/hri/http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/it/reliefs/hri/

Monday, March 4, 2013

CLIENT TESTIMONIAL


Hi Anthony,

I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know we followed up on your diagnosis and advice re attic insulation and bathroom dry lining and damp problems. Your recommended contractor (name with Anthony) finished the work just over a week ago and we are already reaping the benefits. I have to say we couldn't be more satisfied with his work. We found him to be extremely honest, hard-working, conscientious and neat (not something you find with most builders!).  We can't recommend him highly enough and, in fact, we will be employing him for further work in the future.

Thank you, Anthony, for your invaluable advice which I have no doubt saved us money in the long run by pointing us in the right direction.  We are very happy with the results.

Kind regards,

Dublin 12 client

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

FIXING DRAUGHTS...CHEAPLY


Q.  My cottage is very draughty. Are there any cheap ways of fixing this?

A. Draughts can account for a significant heat loss element in any house, even a well insulated house.  This explains why on a frosty still day a house may seem warmer than on a milder windy day.  Plenty of insulation can be rendered near useless by draughts.

Here are some simple solutions: 

At the front door either replace any perished rubber seals or screw on new external draught strips on the sides and top of the door frame.   Also internally screw on a brush draught excluder.

At the edges where windows meet brick or plasterwork renew seals on all sides.

Replace or apply draught proofing seals to openable windows.

Avoid large temperature differences between rooms.  For example, a cold hall can create an internal draught in a heated sitting room.

Replace internal covers of wall vents with humidity-controlled vents (e.g. Aereco.ie ).

Provide draught stripping to attic trapdoor. 

Fireplaces sometimes are problematic but if you use a chimney balloon ensure that there is a wall vent or else condensation might be your new problem.  Some companies (eg. fire-genie.com or chimneydraughtstop.ie) provide neater solutions for closing off flues which can otherwise account for significant heat losses, as well as draughts.

Finally, some older houses with suspended timber floors downstairs have draughts between the square-edged boards so, if the floor boards are up for rewiring or re plumbing, I would strongly recommend that rigid insulation be inserted and secured between the timber joists underneath before the floor boards are re-laid.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Q. What should I look for in buying a house?


Assuming the house is in the right location for you should ideally employ a competent independent person to inspect and report, this would be an Architect, Engineer or Building Surveyor. While the Help My House service is designed to respond to specific concerns the Architects are competent and experienced in carrying out fuller inspections and you should expect to pay around €300 to €500 + VAT for this type of service, which includes a full written report.  However before you get too interested you could have a preliminary look under the 12 headings listed below. The list is in rough order of priority:
1) The Structure should be sound  and if any walls have a noticeable lean on them..be careful and definitely get advice. All things are fixable but here is where costs can escalate. Cracking pattern will also tell about settlement issues (i.e soft ground). 

2) The bathroom and toilet provision is probably substandard if the house is old. Broken and smelly drains cannot be ignored and any new bathrooms, toilets or shower rooms need to be carefully and efficiently planned so that daylight is not stolen form bedrooms and living areas. 
3) Insulation levels need examination. Any property over 30 years old would probably have poor insulation unless upgrade works were done. Better building insulation simply means more comfort and less bills. Draughty doors and windows might also need repair or replacement.
4) Central heating system will need examination. Older systems might work but are inefficient and upgrade works normally pays off soon. Replacement of pipework can be disruptive but if other works are being done also it'll be worth it. 
5) Sound insulation should be considered, especially in semi-detached or terraced houses. Maybe you are a light sleeper and the teenage kid next door likes death metal at high volume. Upgrade works can of course be carried out and there are acoustic plasterboards for such cases. 
6) General workmanship needs examination. While we expect and get high levels of craftsmanship from Victorian and Edwardian times modern buildings can suffer from shoddy workmanship. Bearing in mind that much of the structure is unseen poor standards of finish suggest an equal carelessness in concealed areas like cavity wall insulations.
7) Fire safety is important and upstairs bedroom windows should be large enough to escape from. Also if an attic room is provided to a two storey house then the matter becomes even more urgent. Install a mains powered smoke alarm if you do nothing else. 
8) Ground conditions and moisture penetration need examination. Ensure the enthusiastic gardener has not heaped up soil too high against the house and as a result bridged damp to the wall. Some houses are set into hills and suffer when the weather is very wet. This can be alleviated by careful installation of damp proof courses and french drains etc. 
9) The ventilation of the living and bedrooms needs examination. Humidity controlled wall vents are a great recent invention as they allow a room to "breath" while closing over automatically when necessary. Steamy areas like the bathroom and the cooker hood need steam extraction, otherwise condensation can occur in a cold poorly ventilated corner of a room. 
10) The plumbing might be checked out. Gone are the days when the family of 12 queued up on a Saturday night for the bath (in the same water!). Now we want power showers for our frequent usage. This puts more pressure on hot and cold water supplies. Perhaps when the water charges come we'll be back to the Saturday night event. 
11) The stairs should be sound and even. In some Victorian artisan houses the bottom of the stairs rots because the timbers are in contact with damp ground  and finally 
12) Consider access for those with disabilities. Your elderly mother in  wheelchair may want to come for the sunday roast and so level access should ideally be provided. Remember also that what's good for a wheelchair is good for a child's buggy too.
 When you have examined the above items you should be able to complete a very intelligent and helpful check list for your professional.  AB