Monday, December 12, 2011

Q. What energy grants are available from SEAI? (Dec.2011)

The Better Energy Homes scheme temporarily closed for new applications following Budget 2012 and a subsequent announcement by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
As with all schemes administered by SEAI, the Better Energy Homes scheme is subject to continuous review with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with respect to programme objectives.  To date over €115m has been paid in grant support towards 270,000 upgrade measures in 110,000 homes.  There is also a noted continued downward trend in the typical cost of works, particularly in the case of wall insulation.
Therefore after a review with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources a number of scheme revisions have been agreed, which will come into effect when the scheme reopens on December 8th 2011, at 10.00 a.m. 
The two key changes to the scheme are
  • Revised grant amounts for all wall insulation types and Building Energy Rating (BER)
  • Internal and external wall insulation grants will no longer be one single amount, but rather be based upon the house type.
Grants for attic insulation and all heating system upgrades including solar remain unchanged.
A summary of the new grant levels, and how they relate to house type, is shown below:
Better Energy Homes Table of grants
New application guide, application forms and online application are now available on

Monday, July 18, 2011


Everybody has a horror story they can tell about a home improvement gone wrong. Whether the “victim” is themselves, a family member or friend, the end result is the same – the person ends up out of pocket and the house is remains unimproved.
The reason for the endless list of sorry tales is largely due to the number of homeowners who fail to get independent advice from salesmen and end up paying well over the odds for work carried out to their property. Sometimes the work is unnecessary; while on other occasions the work is unprofessional and fails to repair the damage.
Thankfully, we are set to see a diminishing amount of people unhappy with the results of their home improvements thanks to Help My House, which is now in its second year troubleshooting homeowners’ problems.
The nationwide organisation, which comprises 19 registered architects from the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI), was set up by Anthony Brabazon in a bid to solve the rising tide of dissatisfaction amongst homeowners carrying out home improvements on their properties.

Help My House has become a vital service in Ireland today. With no sign of recovery for the property market and an increasing number of people facing negative equity, more and more property owners are choosing to improve their homes rather than upgrade. Last year, over 175 benefited from this flat fee service. City based homeowners pay a fee of €150 including VAT while all others are charged €200. Homeowners can either log onto the website or call 01 6683519. Within two days the area architect will contact them and a visit will be arranged within two weeks. At the end of the site visit, the architect will provide a written report with recommended solutions for the client.

“I recently had a client in North Dublin who was complaining about a roof leak. The roof was guaranteed so the man had called up the roof company and they had visited his house. The company failed to find the source of the problem, which was actually just a severe case of condensation,” said Anthony Brabazon. “When I checked the house I discovered that the kitchen extractor wasn’t connected properly to the outside of the house. If the problem had not been properly identified, there is a good chance the homeowner would have taken the drastic step of replacing the entire roof. Worse than that, the problem would still have remained.”

According to Brabazon, Help My House is thriving during our recessionary times because people are increasingly looking for low cost solutions to their house problems. “We are very used to dealing with people on tight budgets and fortunately we are in a position to help them.”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Q. How do I deal with blocked drains?

Q. We are having ongoing problems with blocked drains. Should I contact the city council?

HMH: Most blockages are on either private drains or common (shared private) drains. a small bit of detective work should establish if it’s a proverbial “nappy”  blockage or a broken drain caused by building work, tree roots or, as I recently experienced, a tree stake driven through the heart (of a drain). If the mystery persists contact a drainage company who will, for a fee, do a video survey where the problem gets pinpointed.  When new building work is carried out over drains it ought to be done in such a way where the old sewer is not taking extra weight, is encased in concrete and is capable of being rodded (i.e. no sharp bends without manholes). Of course if the blockage is on road or public land…ring the city council drainage section.