Architect advice for a fixed price.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
'Help My House' service expanding to NI and UK
While it is a difficult time for architects it is equally a difficult time for homeowners who need expert, impartial and affordable advice on house defects. The Help My House.ie service is proving to be that elusive marriage made in heaven.
Approximately two years ago a former client from Sandymount asked architect Anthony Brabazon to look at a wet wall in her house. She had called in a "builder" and, despite assurances that the problem was "fixed", she found that the wall was wetter than before! Hot on the heels of this house visit he was approached by a local builder who described some incidences of unscrupulous roofers taking advantage of people in the Dublin 4 area. The 'roofer' would approach the homeowner advising that a few slates were missing, climb his ladder, make a bigger hole in the roof and then quote a price to 'fix the problem'. It sometimes happened that, while up on the roof, a few slates would be removed from the neighbour's roof ensuring that more work could be quoted for.
Having been involved in house design, repair and renovations for the previous twenty years, this wasn't totally new to Anthony but it was a tipping point. A sense of outrage built and, following discussion with others in his office, 'Help My House' was born. Anthony realised that all the experience of two decades could be put to good use in helping people avoid being ripped off. It was time for architects to come down from the ivory tower! People from all over Ireland could contact Anthony's office and be directed to a 'Help My House' architect in their area. After the success of the first two years Anthony feels it is time to expand the service into Northern Ireland and then into the UK. Also, in Ireland, the area architects will now locally promote the service and homeowners will be able to directly contact their local architect with the information available on the helpmyhouse.ie site.
This Friday morning (10-February) at RIAI, 8 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, there will be a gathering of up to 20 Architects for the first Annual Help My House Area Architects Conference. The main focus of the gathering is the decentralization process to the counties outside Dublin as well as the expansion to Northern Ireland. Having conducted over 170 Help My House visits Anthony Brabazon will be speaking on the ethos of the business as well as his experiences to date. Also being discussed will be the expansion of the service into Northern Ireland.
On the team there are nine conservation architects (2 Grade I, 2 Grade II and 5 Grade III). There are also three award-winning firms and two 'passive house' architects. Homeowners will now be able to directly contact their local 'Help My House' architect and for a fixed price of €150 (€200 in rural areas) have them visit, diagnose defects and recommend both a tailor-made solution and appropriate contractor(s) for the works. The hidden secret is that the contractor, being loyal to the architect who is a source of repeat business, offers the client an exemplary service, something people could only dream of in the past as they witnessed another dodgy van driver disappear into the mist with their cash.
Over the past two years there have been approximately four hundred house visits made, two hundred of these in the Dublin area. The service has saved people having to replace roofs, rescued people from scary planning enforcements, cleared out wasps' nests, solved damp mysteries, assisted the disabled and elderly, calmed fears over cracks and subsidence, made houses warmer, and remodelled house space where necessary. On top of this, the clients have been connected with reputable builders and tradesmen thereby achieving the original goal of giving peace of mind and saving money. So far we can agree with a certain well known character in saying, "Can we fix it? Yes, we can". Visit helpmyhouse.ie on the web to make contact with your local Area Architect and arrange a visit to your home or ring 01-6683519 The Cost is €150 in the cities and €200 elsewhere (VAT included).