Making your home office WORK!

The joys of working from home

Are you totally and utterly at wits end with your work commute? Do you find yourself sitting in your car or on the bus, train or tram dreaming of how wonderful it might be to work from home?  Perhaps you are about to embark on an exciting new start-up business venture and until you hit the big time - your head office is your HOME OFFICE?

Or maybe you simply yearn for a peaceful and comfortable designated place in your home where you can organise your life, your bills and let your creative juices flow.

Thanks to advances in technology, working from our homes has become not only a viable, but a much sought-after option for many workers.  In a bid to attract, motivate and retain employees, many employers have adopted flexible policies to facilitate the possibility of working from home.

There are many benefits to working from home apart from avoiding that dreaded commute.  You can save a small fortune on travel costs and flexible working hours can better suit your home life.  You can also find that you are more productive working with fewer distractions.  As we are all too aware, time is precious, so being closer to your family can help reduce your stress levels and contribute to a better work-life balance.  

Purple office bright

However, before you consider boxing up the contents of your desk and bidding farewell to your envious work colleagues, you should give this move some serious consideration.

Working from home can be particularly lonely especially if your role keeps you chained to your desk most of the day.  Isolation can be a real issue for some home workers leaving them feeling cut-off from their co-workers.  Distractions of children, pets, neighbours, home phone and even on-line deliveries can be difficult to avoid.  Maintaining a busy household is highly demanding, so the temptation to clean, cook or even grab the washing off the line is always looming.  There is no doubt, that you will require great self-discipline to motivate yourself and to work to your set hours, but of course avoid over working. 

Once you have weighed up the pros and cons and decide to make that move, your main priority is to make a home office that works best to suit you!  To be successful and productive working from home you need to be organised, so here are some of our top tips!

Easy tips for making your home office WORK!

Whether your home office work space is designed for running a business or a place to organise your diary, you deserve more than a desk and chair tucked into a spare room corner or nook in your home. 

If you focus on creating an office that reflects the design, comfort and charm of the rest of your home, you will WANT to spend time here - lots of time!

1. Location, Location

Firstly, look within your existing living space.  A guest bedroom, attic or garage conversion could work or if funds allow, look to your garden for an office pod.

To avoid two of the main pitfalls of working from home, distraction and disorganisation, you will have to ensure you can separate your work space from your living space.   Your office space must offer a sufficient degree of privacy from surrounding goings-on in the rest of your home.

Take time to carefully curate your office plan, thinking about everything you want to do in it, put into it, how much space you will require, what equipment, how you will power everything and include your internet and storage space requirements.

2. Office Comforts

Make your home office as cosy as possible but avoid an office that is too casual.  A comfortable office chair is a must but feel free to soften the space with a large rug or if space allows an additional large comfortable armchair chair.

Image Credit: Pinterest Rose gold chair

Image Credit: Pinterest Rose gold chair

Introducing a foot rest or a soft keyboard pad will also help enhance your working experience.  Ensure all necessary equipment is within easy reach of where you sit.

A clean sharp and de-cluttered work space will give instant appeal, so go as paperless as possible and mentally declutter by using some of the amazing apps like "Trello", "Evernote" and "Teamworks" and not forgetting the every so useful "sticky notes". 

3. Strike the Right Light

A good home office needs to be highly functional.  Avoid eye strain and back pain by following ergonomic rules regarding the positioning of your computer screen, keyboard, and office chair. 

Desk Light 1.jpg

Natural light is vital, so setting up your desk near a window is ideal but don’t forget about additional lighting in the form of a desk light for darker hours of the day.  Make sure that you avoid any glare on your monitor from a window or over head lighting.   The temperature of your space is very important, so adequate ventilation and heating are necessary.

4. Organised Office Chaos

Aim to cleverly utilise every square foot as efficiently as possible.  You can streamline shelving on your walls for storage focusing on getting as much paper and files off your desk.

Image Credit: Entrepreneur.com

Image Credit: Entrepreneur.com

Always try and keep all your work in this space to facilitate finding things and working efficiently in this space.  With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) it will be important that you are aware and meet compliance with all your stored data.  

Make sure your office is fully stocked to avoid nipping out when you need something.  Be creative with your office storage, maximising all available space.  If space allows a mini fridge and kettle could be incorporated to create a tea station so you can avoid your kitchen at all costs!

Keep frequently used files close by with others stored in more remote locations.  A carefully curated and organised office desk is essential to productivity.  Aim at keeping pending work in order and avoid the chaos of having endless piles screaming back at you.

5. Office Styling - My favourite!

Now for the fun part!

Make the office your own by adding some of your personality.  Choose your paint colours, perhaps add a feature wall, some floating shelves or a quirky wall clock.  An ideas or whiteboard will define this creative hub and your could cover a notice board with some funky fabric to add an interesting twist.

Desk Plant

Strive to create a comfortable uplifting office space that reflects YOU, so that YOU can enjoy being there and succeed at working from home. 

Colour impacts on your mood and your energy levels so avoid a bland uninteresting space.  Research on various shades of green have been linked to creative thinking, so there you go!  Some carefully chosen framed art work, or some motivational quotes will add calmness to your workspace!  A few small touches like a family or pet photo will make this space your own.  Some lush green plants will add some life, while burning some essential oils will create a relaxing atmosphere, not to relaxing though - AS WORK NEEDS DOING!

By placing your stamp on your home office space and ensuring it's bright, functional and comfortable, will positively influence you and enhance your productivity. 

Don't work too hard though - BEST OF LUCK!

For guidance creating your perfect home office, get in touch with Placelift on 01 2548070

 

N.P.L.H. The self-build rollercoaster - Update No 2

Following on from my last update on my self-build journey, I am delighted to report on some slow (but steady) progress!  I had previously mentioned the hope of the good weather holding out but little did I know that a hurricane was about to sweep our nation!

We may not have a house just YET but we do have a pump house!  The day after the pump house was built, we had to batten down the hatches for hurricane Ophelia!  The photo below shows the sky line over the pump house at 12 noon, just before it hit - luckily, all remained intact!

Pump house stormy skies

That said, we had a lovely calm day for the drilling of our well.  Being one of the first outlays, this was a bit nerve wracking!  You basically have no clue what the final cost of this aspect is going to be as it all depends on how deep the contractors go to reach sufficient water!  When the contractor said he would give me a call when he was satisfied they had reached an ample water supply, the little voice inside my head screamed – “PLEASE CALL ME REAL SOON”. 

Well drilling truck

So needless to say, the thoughts of having our budget blown to shreds before we get the show on the road was daunting!  Luckily, they struck gold, (I mean water) and a few hours so we could relax (for another while)! 

Taking no chances!

When we heard media reports that insulation was in short supply and facing certain delays in Ireland due to a fire in some German chemical factory.  Apparently, this chemical is a component of the insulation supplied here in Ireland.  Taking no chances, we took immediate action and got our order in straight away! 

Stock pile of insulation

It’s funny how you can look at something repeatedly and not notice the obvious!  Recently, when pondering over our house plans, it just dawned on me “hey where is the shower in the main bathroom”? 

Bathroom fit-out dilemma

From the get go, on my long-winded dreamy wish list I had noted a freestanding bath on a raised platform with a feature wall and window behind.  Fast forward to reality and the realisation that from a practical perspective, we definitely needed another shower placed in this bathroom!

When I aired my dilemma, it was quickly suggested that I could simply run with a standard bath and shower with a glass shower screen!  The alarm bells immediate rang and rang LOUDLY........... suddenly I found myself on a mission. 

So here I was faced with the first hurdle of this build project - was I going to falter?  My thinking was, if I were to give up so easily and so early on this high priority wish list item - what the hell would become of my remaining wish list items.  My wish list would remain just that - A WISH LIST!

With this issue, I needed to act quickly.  The bathroom layout needs to be carefully planned and executed and is by no means a piecemeal process.  Bathrooms are very much fixed in terms of connecting to the servicing infrastructure – so mistakes can be costly and time is of the essence in order avoid delays!

With let’s just say not a massive bathroom expanse to work with, in solving this problem, I needed to firstly find inspiration and then crunch the numbers in terms of dimensions to try and make it work.

Inspirational mind field

Initially, I trailed through my entire home magazine stock pile.  Then I swiped at every possible bathroom combo image online via Houzz and Pinterest that featured a freestanding bath and wet-room style shower.  Finally, I found "THE ONE" on the cover (photo below) of one of our bathroom products magazines!  Would you believe this very magazine is one I keep on my desk and reference regularly for our Placelift renovation projects!  This photo manages to capture the exact layout required and choosing the tiles and finishes will be another days work (or weeks works)!! 

Free standing bath with wet room shower

At one point, I must admit I felt a bit defeated with the amount of time and energy I was putting into this one aspect.  However, it was both rewarding and a relief to nail this bathroom issue.  In saying this, I really hope that I am not faced with many of these missions (but no doubt, I will).

Crunching those numbers

With any self-build there is always that dread of making the wrong decision (and oh boy are there many decisions to make)!  But let’s face it you are bound to mess up somewhere along the way.  We have all witnessed various types of self-build blunders on the likes of T.V.’s Room to Improve and Grand Designs to name a few.  Any self-builder that I have questioned “If you were to do it all again, would they do anything differently?  All have freely admitted to minor and in some case major flaws that given the second chance they would have certainly approached differently.

With a project of this scale the dreaded budget and contingency are paramount.   While I would much rather focus on the dreamy “wish list”, the harsh reality is that if you are not mindful from the outset, you could end up in deep water.  While we are comfortable working with our own figures, if you are not, we would highly recommend you work with a professional quantity surveyor. 

Size Matters? 

When originally designing our house, we were pushing the boundaries in terms of scale in the thinking that large expanses of open space were an essential ingredient to creating a great home.

Luckily for us, our talented Architect challenged us and took the upper hand in making us realise that in order to achieve a great house that suits our specific needs - that size is not the be all and end all!  He enlighted us of the importance and benefits of clever use of space and also from the outset to strive towards achieving the best possible finishes. 

Site marked out and ready to go

Looking back now, if we had of pushed the limits in terms of square footage, we could have easily ended up with a large home but with an insufficient budget to give it the finish it truly deserved.  Our house design is by no means lean but a great emphasise has been placed on overall flow, storage, natural light and more importantly - what exactly will work for our family’s specific needs.  Above is a photo of the site marked out and ready to rumble!

In my next update, I hope to bring to you some vital signs of a new build!!

If you are self-building and would like to comment, we would love to hear from you.

 

 

N.P.L.H. Making a dream a reality - Update No 1

No-Place-Like-Home-Logo.gif

Building the dream

After 20 years of planning our self-build dream home, September 2017 marks the official commencement of our exciting new build.  Struggling through the planning process, was reminiscent of my dreaded leaving certificate, but enough said - we are finally there!  

Skip with site notice in it

Delighted to share some of the highs and lows (here's hoping not to many) of this journey with you via regular blog updates on our new blog page titled "NO PLACE LIKE HOME".

Might be well before your time but as the lyrics of Paul Young's song goes "wherever I lay my hat, that's my home".  Home can be many things to many people.  Whether it's a bedsit, townhouse, apartment, country cottage, semi-detached, detached, it's YOUR retreat.  Your home is a safe haven for you, your family and pets, a private place to relax, be yourself and live.

Feeling so blessed and grateful to have this opportunity to create our home exactly as we want it!  Having spent my childhood in a self-build, somehow seemed to fuel my desire/ambition to go down this very road.   Growing up surrounded by nature, with a large garden to run free, pets galore and fruit and vegetables growing aplenty certainly planted the seed!

Grass and hedge

Needless to say, we have had years to plan our new home - which in hindsight wasn't a bad thing!  Initially, (a few years back) we were opting for a fairly traditional design mainly because we felt this is what we had to do.  However, along this journey, we were fortunate enough to engage with some great individuals (more on them later) who made us realise what we truly desired - a modern contemporary design.  We know our design is definitely not for everyone - but we absolutely LOVE IT!   

Nature's gold

Our site is a blank canvas, a green field surrounded by nature.  We planted the perimeter with a lush hedgerow some years back and this has matured beautifully.  Other than that, we have some thriving fruit trees and a small berry plantation to the rear (which tasted delish this year)! Below is a photo of the natural meadow site, which we hope to maintain in places and introduce a wild and herb garden when landscaping.

Natural meadow

We have all heard that saying "putting the cart before the horse", but how about "the pillows before the foundations"!!  Picked up some fab "feels like down" plump pillows from Julian Charles recently for our new home!  Very tempted to put some of these into use as sound sleep will be a must over the months and year ahead!

Okay so back to the build - need to concentrate on the mammoth task in hand!  All going well, we hope to soon turn the sod and start making this dream a reality.  Fingers crossed this pleasant calm weather holds out and gives a bit of breathing space.  Will be in touch soon, with hopefully some real ground breaking progress (excuse the pun)!!

If you are self-building, we would love to hear from you!  Lets get a self-build conversation started!  Or perhaps you know somebody who starting or in the midst of a self-build whom you could share this blog.   

Future proofing your home to suit your life stages

We were absolutely delighted when this blog firstly recently appeared on RTE's Lifestyle page https://www.rte.ie/lifestyle/living/2017/0728/893592-top-tips-on-future-proofing-your-home/

 Top tips on renovating to optimise existing space

Woman planning on laptop

For most home owners, the lifecycle of their home is reflective of their own life stage. Whether meeting the needs of a growing family, caring for a relative, adapting to an empty nest, or planning for retirement, there comes a time when the layout of a home no longer fits specific lifestyle needs.  

According to Clodagh Doyle of specialist property renovation firm Placelift, “There is no one size fits all when it comes to remodelling your home, and it is essential to focus on a layout that works for your individual situation.  

Clodagh Doyle

 

“Of course, circumstances can change but it always helps to plan ahead and be mindful of future needs when buying or renovating a home. Making your space work better for you with clever design, function and comfort in mind is key.”

Top Tips on future-proofing your home:  

1.    Getting started  

Before you even consider extending, look closely at the existing footprint of your home and how you could possibly improve that space. Look at every square metre and how it is used or not used (as is often the case).

When it comes to designing the perfect home, size is not always the winning factor. Deciding not to extend may be one of the best decisions you make and could save you a lot of money.  

Spend time really thinking about what changes would make the biggest difference. Go through each room and think about who uses it, how much time is spent in it and when. Consider all family members and their specific requirements and hobbies, not forgetting any four-legged friends. Write down what you really like about the house and its function and also what you really dislike. Then compile a wish list!

2.    Child-friendly designs  

With a young family, an open-plan layout is ideal, especially with a direct link to the garden. The children can happily play while always under the watchful eye of a parent. By removing a partition wall to create more space, two rooms can be transformed into a large open-plan living area.

At the baby and toddler stage, more than ever, smart storage is essential. Place a huge emphasis on creating additional storage within your existing footprint, such as under stairs storage, attic storage or perhaps a garage conversion.

Mother and children reading

It is easy for small children to share bedrooms and perhaps free up a spare bedroom for a home office or dressing room.

It is also ideal for them to have a designated playroom to accommodate their toys and paraphernalia. 

3.    Creating teenage space

Older children require their own space and sharing a bedroom may not be an option with personality clashes and age difference thrown into the mix. 

Open-plan living will only work well with teenagers and young adults if you have other private spaces to which they can retreat. Converting a playroom to a teenage snug or den where they can invite friends to hang out and watch TV might just be the answer. Alternatively, you could look into converting your garage or attic for this purpose. 

A designated study zone is also necessary for secondary and college level students. A small but bright and well-ventilated area within your home, but away from the noisy hub, is essential.

If you need extra room but building an extension is not an option, you could divide a large room into two smaller rooms with a partition wall or if space allows, install a sliding pocket door system. 

4.    Planning for retirement

In later years, as children fly the nest and space becomes less of an issue, not everyone wants to leave their home, garden, and memories behind and downsize to apartment living. If you love the home you are in now, you should be able to adapt it to suit your future needs.

You could consider extending an existing bathroom, for example, to include an accessible wet-room with bath. Alternatively, it can work well to convert a downstairs room into an accessible bedroom, mindful of the width of doors and keeping all areas level.

Even your garden can be simply altered to ensure less maintenance. Raised flower or vegetable beds are a great option.

Rather than your home becoming a burden to maintain, this way you can look forward to sharing a manageable space with your family, friends and even grandchildren.

Father and son talking

5.    Setting a budget

Be realistic about your budget and what you can afford. It is recommended that you engage early on with a registered professional such as an architect, who should provide you with clarity on all aspects. It is also worth checking if you could qualify for any home improvement grants.   

Once you have considered all the options, prioritise the changes that will make the biggest impact on your lifestyle, allowing you to enjoy your home all over again!

Need help future proofing your home? Talk to Placelift today on 01 2548070

Creating a stylish entrance hallway

What does your hall space say about you?

The next time you are passing through your front door, pause for a moment, and carefully observe.  What is your first impression of this space?

Regardless of the size of your hallway this is the gateway to the rest of your home.  This is where the first internal impression is made giving visitors an insight into how you and your family live and gives them an idea of what the rest of the may be like. 

When creating a stylish entrance hallway be mindful of the fact that this is a heavy traffic area and prone to constant wear and tear!

Beyond the hall door

Hallways are renowned for being a dumping ground for everyone’s bits and pieces.  Revamping your hallway into an uplifting welcoming zone begins with removing the clutter. 

Be creative when it comes to storage by providing a place for the usual clutter culprits.  A customised boot room style unit may be ideal and will look great.  Consider an ottoman base with ample storage for shoes along with plenty of decorative vintage hooks for coats and some overhead shelving with on-trend wicker baskets. Placing a key box on to this unit would be highly practical.

Photo Credit: Idealhomes.co.uk

Photo Credit: Idealhomes.co.uk

If you have provision for under stairs storage, consider this area for bulky items like schoolbags and shopping bags etc.  Ensure you maximise this space with pull-out drawers and if you can incorporate a tall cupboard – go for it!

Tough and durable but looks stunning

When it comes to your hall flooring pay close attention to your practical needs.  Thick luxurious carpets may sound appealing but will it stand the test of time?  While hard durable surfaces are suitable for heavy traffic and are easier to clean they can be somewhat cold, stark, and noisy.  A simple solution to soften and warm up hard flooring is to add a runner or rug.  For a timeless style to your hall consider encaustic Moroccan cement tiles of if your budget wont stretch we love  https://www.britishceramictile.com/laura-ashley/mr-jones-dove-grey-floor-la52017 which are available from Woodies DIY.

Photo Credit: Laura Ashley

Photo Credit: Laura Ashley

As your hallway area can be particularly busy with people brushing past with bikes and bags, a strong finish on your walls is advisable.

Your hallway is a transitional space so you can choose to go darker or lighter with your wall colour in comparison to the rest of your home.  Alternatively, you could consider painting your doors and woodwork in a contrasting darker colour which will add drama but will be easier to maintain than white.   

Consider panelling in your hall to give it some character and charm or take the bare look off your radiator by fitting a decorative cover.  Pay attention to the interior of your front door and consider priming and painting.  Do the same with other timber areas like your banisters and hand rails – it will make all the difference!

Photo Credit:Pinterest

Photo Credit:Pinterest

If your services are on full view in your hallway, look at boxing these in to look more asthetically pleasing.  You could incorporate a unit to house your services but with a shelf and useful storage below.

Your hallway should be warm and inviting so carefully choose your lighting and if space allows, make a dramatic light fitting the centrepiece of your hallway.  If you are limited for space down-lighters are the best option.  Adding some diffused warm white with wall lights or table lamps can really transform this space. 

To inject some additional natural light from another room look at the possibility of replacing with a full or half-length glass door.  Ensure that your door hardware and light fitting materials work together.

As hallways tend to be narrow, space can be at a premium.  Less is definitely more when it comes to furnishing.  Always carefully measure pieces out before purchasing.

Photo Credit: House Beautiful

Photo Credit: House Beautiful

If space allows, a well-chosen console table with a statement table lamp will help define this space and allow for a few decorative pieces to finish the overall look.  We recently came upon a home with fully functioning old eircom phone – this looked cool in their otherwise contemporary hall!

A decorative mirror in your hallway will not only look the part but will reflect much needed extra light back into this area. 

Your hallway, your style

Your hallway can be the perfect place to express your personality by styling with some of your favourite artwork and keepsakes.  If you can conjure up some space, fresh flowers are a simple but a welcome addition.

Decorative pieces for your hallway

Regardless of your hallway type or size, you have plenty of scope to transform this into a welcoming and inviting space – somewhere you will be proud to turn the key and step inside after a hard day’s work!

Need help creating your stylish hall? Get in touch with Placelift on 01 2548070.

 

Clever storage ideas for your home

As the saying goes “a place for everything and everything in its place” makes perfect sense unless of course you are not particularly organised or feel you lack the space to do so.

Image Credit: Pinterest

Image Credit: Pinterest

Storage Dilemma

Storage space can be an ongoing challenge for most homes these days.  Without it, a home can easily become untidy, dysfunctional and unorganised - which can have a negative impact on those living there.  

Before you consider, extending, converting or additional space in the form of a garden room, you should really concentrate on the existing footprint of your home.  Introducing some clever design to your current spaces can really make a vast difference to the functionality of your home.

Utility room storage drawers

Clutter Clearing

However, before you embark on this you should really consider what exactly do you need to store and where.  Take time to write down what areas of your home are really letting you down in terms of storage.    

Having too much of anything or not using your existing storage space effectively will cause problems.   Overtime as our needs evolve, we need our homes to work for us and to suit our current lifestyle.  To begin with you must scale down with a major de-cluttering exercise as there is little point in creating new storage space to house stuff you no longer want, use, or intend using.

Corner bench with storage

De-cluttering can be a tiring and overwhelming exercise, so you need to muster us some energy and really get motivated to tackle it.

Clutter Free Zone

Simply break everything down it to bite size chunks and with fresh eyes, take one wardrobe, storage cupboard or perhaps just one room at a time.  Aim to find clever storage solutions that will maximise this space and adequately store what you need it to store but will also look great in the process.   Taking accurate measurements of the available space and what you need to store will be vital when you consider possible solutions.

Before you take that daunting road trip to your nearest Ikea store, consider some of our storage solutions.

10 Inspiring Storage Ideas For Your Home 

  1. Create storage within storage, by maximising the space within your existing storage for example extra shelving in your wardrobes, hot-press or kitchen cabinets.
  2. Maximise under stairs storage with easy pull out drawers and accessible closet space, which you can smartly fit-out to suit your specific storage requirements.
  3. Flooring your attic will create immediate inexpensive storage space.  You could also consider storage units to maximise your attic storage space.
  4. With a vast array of skilled cabinet makers, some customised units to suit your specific requirements will look fantastic spray painted in the colour of your choice.
  5. Consider furniture that doubles up as storage for example a coffee table or bay window seat with storage space beneath or a corner dining bench with storage.
  6. Maximising your wall space alcoves by erecting suitable shelving, a bookcase, or custom units.
  7. Source some sealable storage products to keep items dust free and avail of all under bed and over wardrobe space.
  8. On trend vintage suitcases stacked in a bedroom can provide extra storage and will look fabulous.
  9. Reversing the direction of door openings can free up valuable space.
  10. Large decorative door hooks can be highly functional and look good in the process.
Image Credit: Pinterest

Image Credit: Pinterest

The same process should apply to your garage, shed or utility as by placing as much as possible on the walls will result in freeing up valuable floor space.

Creating “a place for everything” is the easy part, the challenge begins when trying to get everyone in your home to keep “everything in its place” – good luck with this aspect!

If you need some help with clever storage for your home, get in touch with Placelift 01 2548070

 

Reviving a vacant property for market

Refurbishing for Maximum Return

With latest CSO figures reporting more than 180,000 vacant properties in Ireland, an upcoming government report is expected to propose new initiatives aimed at bringing vacant housing back into stock and encouraging owners to refurbish vacant properties for sale or rent.

It is particularly dismal when passing by a vacant property, especially in light of the current housing and homelessness crisis.  Most properties can be rejuvinated into perfectly functioning and safe homes with some t.l.c. and a budget!

In our experience, properties can lie idle for a whole variety of reasons, from legal or financial issues to emotional ties. In some cases, such as an executor property, it can be difficult for families to know where to start.

It is understandable that potential buyers or tenants are often put off by a property that has not been lived in for some time, especially if it feels damp and in need of basic repairs. There are a number of steps that owners can take, however, to help revive an empty property in preparation for sale or rent.

Top Tips to Maximise the Value of a Vacant Property:

  • Budget

Regardless of the condition of an empty property, the aim is to present it in such a way that buyers can clearly visualise its full potential. While some properties require a complete renovation, others can benefit from some simple repairs and TLC. Start with a concise to-do list and set yourself a budget for the project, including a contingency fund. A good guideline is 15 per cent of the estimated cost. It is also worth checking if your vacant property could qualify for a Government loan to help with repairs. 

  • First impressions

There is no better place to start than standing on the street and taking an objective look at your vacant property. Most prospective buyers or tenants will form their first impression within seconds. Make sure it is a positive one by painting the exterior, including the front door. Polish and shine the door accessories, clear and clean the gutters, fascia and soffit, and make your property look loved! 

  • Gardens

Tidy the gardens, front and rear, trimming hedges and shrubs. Introduce some seasonal colourful plants and garden furniture if feasible. Power wash all paths, patios and driveways. Decking, fencing and side gates can be revived by staining. 

  • Clearance

Less is more when it comes to furniture. Remove as much as you can from the entire property, ensuring that it is clutter-free. If you are planning to leave a certain amount of furniture in situ, go the extra mile to dress these areas. It will greatly enhance the marketing photographs and the overall viewing experience. 

  • Deep clean

Vacant properties can tend to smell damp and musty due to moisture and lack of air circulation. Air out the entire property and immediately tackle any damp or mould issues. Expect potential viewers to look everywhere! Clean inside wardrobes, kitchen cabinets, oven and fridge, along with all flooring.  Windows should sparkle inside and out!  Bathrooms and kitchens should be as pristine and inviting as possible. A professional cleaning company is the best option, budget permitting.  

  • Repairs

Complete a snag list for every room, looking for anything defective or in need of repair or replacement.  Pay attention to dripping taps, a cracked tile, discoloured grouting, stained ceilings, mildew, or broken door handles, as your potential buyer or tenant will be sure to spot these defects. Attention to the small details will make all the difference. 

  • A blank canvas

Painting the interior of your property is probably the most effective way of making a real difference to the overall aesthetics, without breaking the bank.  Choose inviting, warm neutral tones for the walls and crisp fresh whites for the ceilings and woodwork.

  • Focus

If you are trying to balance the budget, concentrating on some key areas can help focus both your to-do list and your bank balance. A new kitchen, bathroom, central heating, carpets and re-decoration can quickly transform a dark and decrepit no show house into a stunning turn-key home.

We were delighted when this article first appeared on page one and two of the Sunday Business Post Property Plus recently!

Sunday Business Post featuring Placelift

If and when the Government introduce this proposed new scheme, we will be sure to keep you fully informed and we will dedicate a follow up blog to this subject.

For expert advice on how to revive your property, get in touch with Placelift 01 2548070.

 

Changes to rental rules and regulations

Standards for rental accommodation

By law every landlord must ensure that their rental property complies with certain minimum physical standards. These standards were originally introduced in the 1990’s and have been updated on a number of occasions since then. The standards are intended to improve the quality of rental properties.

Yellow door

The rules apply to private and local authority housing and are the first real revision of the minimum standards required for tenants accommodate since 2008.  Many basic modern living conditions were introduced a tenant right, including the right to private bathroom, hot running water and sufficient laundry and cooking facilities. 

To date, there have been some revisions mainly regarding the phasing out of the traditional bedsit in February 2013 and more recently this month.  New updated regulations which came into effect on the 1st of July 2017 which mainly focus on improved fire safety standards for tenants and better protection against vermin.  A final ban was also introduced to ban bedsit flats stating that the bathroom must be in the same habitable space.

Recent rule changes

Every rental accommodation must have a fire blanket.  A smoke alarm must be in place on every floor of a standalone house and must be a 10-year battery operated smoke alarm.   For multi-unit’s properties (apartments and houses) that are split into flats must have a mains-wired fire detection and alarm system for each unit and in the common areas in line with the Fire Protection Acts.  Emergency lighting is also required for multi-unit properties.

All rental housing must be fitted with a carbon monoxide detector and there must be adequate air supply associated with heating appliances.  Another significant change is that all bathrooms and shower rooms must have a permanent fixed heating.

The rules also state that all safety requirements outlined must be subject to regular maintenance.

To prevent tenants falling from windows a new provision has been introduced.  Safety restrictors must be fitted to limit the size of the opening if a window is more than 1.4m above the ground level outside.

In relation to vermin, responsibility for fully protecting accommodation against rats and mice is no longer the responsibility of the tenant but that of the landlord.

The rules covering the standards for rental properties cover the following areas;

  • Structural condition
  • Sanitary facilities
  • Heating
  • Food preparation, storage, and laundry
  • Ventilation
  • Lighting
  • Refuse facilities and Vermin
  • Fire safety
  • Windows
  • Bathrooms
  • Gas, oil and electrical installations
     
house to rent sign out side house

Structural condition

All rental properties must be maintained in a proper state of structural repair. The dwelling must be essentially sound with roof, floors, ceiling, walls, and stairs in good repair and not subject to serious dampness or liable to collapse.

Sanitary Facilities

All rental accommodation must contain a toilet and wash hand basin with hot and cold water and a bath or shower supplied with hot and cold water.  These facilities must be provided in a separate room and contain separate ventilation.

Heating Facilities

All rooms must contain a fixed heating appliance (including the bathroom or shower room). The tenant must be able to control the operation of the heating appliance.

Food preparation and laundry

All rental properties should contain the following facilities:

A four-ring hob with oven and grill, a cooker hood or extractor fan, a fridge and a freezer, a microwave oven.  They should include a sink with provision of hot and potable cold water.  Sufficient kitchen units to adequately facilitate food storage is also required.

A washing machine within the dwelling unit or at least access to a communal washing machine facility within the building

In cases where the accommodation does not contain a garden or yard, a tumble dryer must be provided.

Ventilation

All rooms must have adequate ventilation particularly in the kitchen and bathroom to remove water vapour.  Ventilation must be maintained and good working order.  All rental housing is required to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed. 

Lighting 

All habitable rooms must have adequate natural lighting; all rooms (including every hall, stairs, and landing) must have a suitable and adequate means of artificial lighting. Emergency lighting, linked to fire alarm systems, must be provided in all units within a multi-unit building.

Refuse facilities

The revised regulations will require access for tenants to proper, pest and vermin-proof refuse storage facilities. The use of communal storage facilities, where appropriate, will be considered to comply with the regulations.

Vermin

The responsibility for dealing with rats and mice has been switched from the tenant to landlord.


Bathrooms

Tenants are entitled to a supply of both hot and cold water in a fixed bath or shower.  In the same habitable space, they are also entitled to a water closet type bathroom, with access to a toilet and sink.

Windows

With an emphasis on safety, windows more than 1.4m above the ground must have features installed which limit the size of opening. This is to prevent tenants falling from large windows openings.

Electricity and gas

Installations in the property for electricity and gas supply must be maintained in good repair and safe working order.

Enforcement of the regulations

Increased levels of inspections and enforcement are planned as part of the governments rental strategy.

Fire safety regulations

Multi-unit dwellings (e.g. a house divided into flats) must contain a mains-wired smoke alarm, a fire blanket, emergency lighting in common areas and an emergency evacuation plan.

Rental units that do not form part of a multiple unit (e.g. a house) must have a fire blanket and either a mains-wired smoke alarm or at least two 10-year self-contained lithium battery operated smoke alarms.

Fire extinguishers are not required by law in rental properties but are highly recommended.

Non-compliance

The penalties for non-compliance with the regulations is a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding with fines for each day of a continuing offence.

We hope that you have found our guide useful, however, for further information please check http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/si/17/made/en/pdf

We can help get your property "ready to rent", call 01 2548070 for details.

Top of Form

Your bedroom, your style

Your boutique bedroom begins here.....

When it comes to re-decorating there is a tendency to pay attention to the high traffic areas and all too often our bedrooms are overlooked or put on the long finger.  If you think about it, we probably spend most of our time in our bedrooms, albeit when we are sleeping.  It is therefore important that we invest some time, money, and energy into this space.  With the Summer sales in full swing, now is the perfect time to focus on revamping your bedroom and snap up some statement bedroom bargains!

bright bedroom airy

Less is more

A great starting point is to remove absolutely everything from this room and take up residence in the spare room for the duration of this re-vamping process.  By concentrating on the floors and walls will provide a great platform for this project.  If your budget won’t stretch to new flooring, simply make the most of what you have!  Revive your carpet with a professional clean or if you have timber flooring - invest in a warm on-trend rug.

Your room, your style

Painting will revitalise your room giving it a new lease of life.  Begin with warm neutrals on the walls teamed with brilliant white on the ceiling and woodwork.   This is your room, so feel free to be bolder and braver with your colour choices.  Introduce a feature accent wall with a vibrant and rich tone or opt for a luxurious textured wallpaper.  Aim at placing your own personal stamp when it comes to colour, style and taste.  Cantering a favourite piece of art over your headboard will create the ideal focal point.  Don’t rule out up-cycling by painting some of your existing bedroom furniture including your wardrobes, bedside lockers, or bed.

All about the bed, the bed...

Like any decent hotel, your bed should take centre stage, carefully located facing an open doorway.  If finances allow, you should purchase the biggest and best quality you can afford when it comes to your bed base and mattress. 

Where fabric and fibre matter

bed linen bright

Place your headboard against a wall to ensure stability and security.  A glamourous upholstered headboard can immediately transform this space.  Using a duvet that is one size larger than your bed can give it that plump lavish look.  Matching bed linen and pillows are a must and if possible choose bedding made of natural cotton fibres to provide optimum comfort.  Check out  http://www.oldcourtlinens.ie/.   A few well-chosen cushions and a natural wool throw is a great way to introduce a splash of colour to complete this bedroom masterpiece.

Light and airy ambience

bedroom light and bright

When it comes to lighting a bedroom should be bright, fresh, and uplifting by day with various lighting options available by night.  If possible, place a decorative statement pendant directly over your bed.   Floor or table lamps are ideal with a dimmer switch providing the perfect ambience with a choice of bright lighting for reading and a calmer lighting for relaxing.  Adding some strip lighting just behind your headboard for some warmth and interest. 

While some of us prefer waking to natural light, others do not.  It is all about striking a balance when choosing your window dressings.  Using blackout blinds with curtains that filter the light might just be the answer.  Full length made-to-measure curtains are a sure way add instant style and well-chosen fabrics will add to the overall aesthetics.

Your bedroom, your retreat

Remember you are striving for a new luxe look, so don't immediately go placing everything back to its original haunt.  Strictly, only bring back what you really need or what.  Our bedrooms should be a place where we unwind from the everyday stresses and act as a retreat when we are ill. 

bright bedroom with accesories and pop of colour

Your bedroom is the room you should feel the most relaxed and comfortable in.  It should be well ventilated, airy, and calm with clutter avoided at all costs.  You can still manage to have storage; however, it is wise to have it completely closed with everything streamlined and clean.  Custom fit, floor to ceiling wardrobes painted as you choose will look fabulous.  Be mindful that you need to be able to dress your bed and deep clean this space without too much effort and obstacles.

Must visit - new homewares shop!

Some new or existing accessories and candles will add instant appeal.  Carefully chosen decorative bedside lamps, quirky framed photos and interesting treasured keepsakes can take their pride of place. 

The ideal destination for all your home accessories is the new flagship store HomeSence (part of the TK Maxx family) in Blanchardstown, Dublin or Cork – LOVE IT!

Your bedroom should be YOUR sanctuary, a place YOU really enjoy and want to be in.  To get highly motivated, just visualise chilling in your bath gown in your new luxe bedroom with all the delights that a boutique hotel must offer BUT without the expensive room rate!

Planning a refurbishment? Talk to Placelift 01 2548070

 

 

10 Ways To Add Value To Your Home or Property

1. Set your property apart from the competition

When selling you hope to achieve the best possible price and quickly.  If you are planning on selling, you should take a pro-active approach and seek measures to create extra value prior to selling your home. 

Renovating, extending and improving your home are great ways to give it a new lease of life by gaining space or making it more aesthetically pleasing. However, will it increase your selling price?

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Not all home improvements will have the best financial impact, some will without a doubt increase the value while others can actually hamper the sale.  Knowing where and how to add value can prove tricky especially if you are not clear on the difference between what can and what cannot actually add value.

Your budget should be your first point of call, there is no point coming up with dramatic ideas if your finances won’t stretch.  By setting a realistic budget and keeping to it will be critical to your improvement project(s).

Looking at the suggestions below, you should ask if these might best suit your property type, size, style, location, and of course your pocket.  You should also ensure that your plans will blend nicely with your neighbouring properties – you do not want to stand out for all the wrong reasons. 

Be mindful of that fact that if you invest in some added modern space, there is little point in having a jaw dropping new extension if the remainder of the property is looking shabby and neglected and you have insufficient funds to upgrade this area.  It’s all about strike the right balance.

Consider your time scale for your plans to ensure that when it is time to place your property on the market that all your improvements are completely finished to a high standard.

Remember there are pro’s and con’s with many projects, even if you plan on carrying out most of the work yourself  you should really consider some beneficial input from the professionals including, Architects, Surveyors, Solicitors, House Doctors, Agents, Builders etc.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Most prospective buyers are particularly savvy and will in fact look for reasons not to purchase a property or indeed reasons to pay less for it.  Your goal is to make your property stand out from the competition, to improve it with your target market in mind, giving prospective buyers little or no reason not to want to buy your property. 

Below are some of the ways you can add real value to your property along with some that should be avoided.

2. Investigate Property Structure

You should investigate if any aspect of your properties structure is in need of obvious repair and make this a priority.  This may be perhaps solving a damp issue, roof or chimney repairs, damaged fascia and soffits repairs or treating wet and dry rot.  Once you have paid sufficient attention to the repairs you should look towards improving the structure.  Upgrading your insulation and ventilation are very worthwhile projects along with perhaps improving your central heating or glazing on your windows.  Glazing your windows may be costly and you might ask yourself if you will see a full return, however by not upgrading the windows may in fact put off prospective buyers. 

3 . Create More Space

Extending your living space is always a good idea but careful consideration should be given to the design element to ensure that it complements your existing space, fits in with the value, style, size, location and of course the building control and  planning regulations.  You should also weight up the added appeal in relation to the overall cost of extending.  Consideration should be given to any obstacles for example structural, physical or legal that may be excessively costly to overcome.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Basement extensions are probably the most expensive and will affect the structural load of your property.  It would be vital that you engage specialists for the design and the installation and it would most likely mean moving out of the property for the duration of the works.

Conservatories a very popular and can be the least expensive solution to adding extra living space to your home.  Aim to make this a suitable all year space as it may be lovely in the warmer months but no so enjoyable in the winter months - unless you have made provision for blinds and heating etc.

4. Convert More Space 

A loft conversion is probably the easiest, least disruptive and most affordable solution of achieving that extra bathroom or bedroom without radically changing the external look of your home.  However, it would be important to ensure that the access to the loft is easy and that the conversion sits well with the rest of the house and that it complies with regulations. 

Garages that are directly next to a property can prove to be great extensions adding a bedroom, office or playroom and will most certainly add value but only if you are not taking valuable storage space.  If you convert your garage you might need to consider perhaps creating a new storage space perhaps in the garden, to allow provision of much sought after storage space.

5. Cosmetic Fixes

Most properties will benefit from a long list of cosmetic improvements which can be carried out on a tight budget.  Most of these can collectively add value to your property, increasing its appeal - helping it sell faster and for more.  First impressions are very important when selling so it is always a good idea to take aim of your target market.  Figure out who is you most likely buyer and present the property with this target market in mind. 

Firstly, ensure that all superficial defects are fixed, and that all D.I.Y. projects have been finished professionally.  Freshly painting and decorating with warm neutrals will make all the difference immediately making the property more inviting.  Improving your floor finishes will also help.  Pay attention to improving your existing kitchen and bathroom by perhaps giving them a facelift by maybe changing your worktops and cabinet doors in the kitchen or freshly re-tiling or re-grouting your bathroom floor and wall tiles.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

6. Improve Existing Space

Replacing your kitchen or bathroom should add real value, however make sure the price bracket of our new kitchen or bathroom matches the price bracket of your property or you won’t see your money back when selling.  Creating an extra bedroom or remodelling to create a home office or en suite, are other options to consider.  By cleverly adding extra storage space whether under stairs or using ceiling voids will also add to the appeal.

7. Improve Outdoor Space

Paying attention to every aspect of your property is important, including all outside areas concentrating on making this as spick and span as possible.   Freshly painting the exterior of your property is a must and you should ensure your front door is looking exceptionally smart.  You should aim at setting your property apart from your neighbours giving it overall ‘kerb appeal’.    Consider the possibility of creating off-street parking or improving the privacy of your property.   

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

9. Go that extra mile for your property

Prior to placing your property on the market, leave no stone unturned, ensuring that all projects are completed to perfection with no D.I.Y. half measures in sight.  Take care that any planning issues are resolved, that you renew or extend the lease, buy the freehold or share of freehold if necessary and that you have paid your property tax. 

Some projects, if not given sufficient consideration can have a negative effect on your property value.  Keep in mind, that the more personal your choice of project it may be less likely to have a positive effect on the resale value.  For example, if you decide to convert a bedroom in to an art studio and your target market is a young family looking for an extra bedroom for their new baby these types of buyers will not pay the premium it cost to build your studio, in fact they may be turned off.

10. Some other factors to consider.........

  • Painting and decorating your home prior to selling will make it more appealing and contribute to the overall value but only if you choose colours and finishes that appeal to the wider market.  In other words, your may choose dark floral wallpaper for your bedroom but will this appeal to the wider market?
  • By placing the highest quality fixtures, fittings or perhaps a high end luxurious kitchen upgrade in an otherwise modest property often do not have the same return of mid- range ones.
  • Rooms that don’t’ fit or flow with the floor plan will most certainly have a negative effect on your value.  For example if you decide to add more space by adding a play room in your patio space but your dining room now looks out into a clutter of toys - this will not add to buyer appeal. 
  • You may decide to invest in landscaping your back garden and even consider adding a great feature like a large rockery with a pond.  As a result your back garden may look fantastic but when it comes to selling it could hinder the sale.  It may be seen as a safety hazard by parent with small children and put them off.

So in order to add value, there is no doubt you should invest time researching and carefully planning and considering well-judged improvements that will best suit your property.  Be sure to be mindful of your target market and budget.   With this approach, you should be well on your way to adding value to your home and hopefully get the return on investment you are wishing for!  

For expert advice on how you can get your property ready for sale, call Placelift today 01 2548070 

Beat the buglars and secure your home

How secure is your home?

With the holiday window on the horizon, you may be looking forward to packing up and heading off for a well-deserved break!  Leaving your vacant home behind is a risk you take, as unfortunately intruders can strike at any time.  Vacant homes, of course offer even more appeal. 

house with hands protecting it

It is essential that you keep your home as secure as possible in a bid to combat what is a highly stressful and traumatic experience.  By taking some time to security check your home and by making a few vital changes could really make all the difference.

Alarms may see obvious but you would be surprised with how many homes either don’t have one installed or have one but don’t bother to use it.  You could choose to securely link your alarm to a staffed remote monitoring service or the Gardaí, who will contact you or a chosen key holder to let you know if there is a problem.  Panic buttons are also worth installing for when you are actually in the home and maybe hear a disturbance.

Get with it - get digital!

CCTV can range from a wired system plugging straight into a monitor, to a wireless system, where images can be transmitted using digital technology.  A protocol CCTV allows cameras to send images to your computer router which in turn can give you access to footage of your property via the internet or from your smartphone.

Top tips for securing your home

  • Avoid obvious signs that no one is at home by perhaps having a trusted key holder to ensure bins are put in and out, post and junk mail are picked up, lighting is turned on and off and blinds and curtains are opened and closed. 
  • Individual window locks provide added security.
  • Reinforced glass may be a good idea on less exposed ground floor windows.
  • Sliding glass doors and double doors are regular break-in points so installing multi-bolt locks are highly recommended.
  • Entry gates should be closed or better still locked.
  • Door locks, one is not enough – you need at least two and use them.
  • Your letter box should have a cage fitted to avoid “fishing” for keys.
  • Keys hidden under door mats, rocks or plant pots should be avoided.
  • Motion sensor lighting will alert you or neighbours to movement outside.
  • Hedges and foliage can act as a great hiding place so get these trimmed.
  • Ladders, garden furniture and wheelie bins should be put away as these can be used to climb to open windows.
  • Tools left out could be used to smash a window or gain door entry.
  • Secure documents should be hidden in the attic or locked in a filing cabinet.
  • Lock your car turning your wheels into the curb and locking the wheel.
  • Outhouses and sheds should be locked.
  • Valuables should never be left on display.
  • Guard dogs still prove a vital deterrent when it comes to home security.  Some dogs will at least alert you to activity while others will go all out to protect your home.
  • Social media is not the place to share your airport or holiday selfies as you never know who might use this valuable piece of information.

Neighbourhood watch is in fact a great platform to keep you informed of unusual activity in your area.  A simple Facebook or WhatApp private group set up between neighbours is a great way to communicate and plan ahead for your vacant home.

An Garda Síochána have a simple home security survey to determine how well your home is secured against burglary, why not give it a go!  The link for this survey is http://www.garda.ie/Documents/User/CP%20Info%20Sheet%20-%20HS1%20-%20Checklist%20Challenge.pdf

Don’t allow burglars to steal your peace of mind and your possessions.  if you dedicate some time and effort into securing your home, hopefully this may prevent a break-in or at least make it as difficult as possible for them - now there's an incentive!

Best of luck securing your home, from The Placelift Team

Why is my house not selling?

How to achieve that “wow factor” when selling

We can all recall making a splurge on a big-ticket item, perhaps a car, a piece of jewellery or even some designer clothing!

If we are honest, most of us do not tend to buy on impulse.  Before proceeding to checkout, we will probably carry out a little or indeed a lot of research, doing our homework.

That irristable urge to buy

We might spend some time online viewing the actual product and be instantly drawn to its strong advertising or even to someone using or wearing this item.  We will probably imagine using or wearing this item ourselves because this is what most of us do before we fully justify and commit to parting with our hard-earned cash.

On viewing this product, if it’s a car take we might take it for a test drive and savour the aroma of that irresistible new car smell or if it’s something we can hold or try on we can really get a feel for it and yearn for even more!

Most products on the market are so cleverly packaged and branded in such a fashion as to lure us to them, creating the ultimate buyers experience and thus fertile ground for us to proceed to purchase.

Maximise your biggest asset

Let’s face it, when selling a house, we hope to achieve top euro and quickly!  Unfortunately, so many home vendors make the BIG mistake of being somewhat short-sighted when it comes to the marketing of their house.  They of course hope at the outset for a great return on their investment but in fact they do little in-between to influence this return.

Selling your home is no different to selling any other big brand item, so best think of your home as a high-end product to sell.  While it may not be feasible to spend a fortune on advertising or perch it in a luxurious gift box, do not despair – there are other measures you can and should take!

With your buyer in mind......

When selling your home, it is vital that you make an emotional connection with your prospective buyers.  In other words, you need to know your target audience and what would greatly appeal to them.  If you get this aspect right your prospect buyer should easily be able to imagine themselves living in this house, with their family and their belongings.

Nowadays, the stakes are set so much higher, prospective buyers want to be “wowed” and want to be presented with an aspirational lifestyle package.  With the surge of new show homes to market with many of them available for open viewings – this is what you must compete with.  A show house can really set the standard and impress the socks off potential buyers with many of them staged to perfection. 

Showhouse Standard

There are of a course many factors you have little or no control of when selling, however presentation is something you can take full reigns of and make sure your home packs a punch when put to market!  After living in a house for a long period, you can easily become immune to the negatives that will otherwise jump out and bite your practical understanding viewers.  Getting advice from a third-party will help you make the absolute most of what you have.

More bang for your buck

While an all-out transformation might be ideal, your budget may not stretch, so focus on the main key areas.   Depending on the overall condition of your house and bench marking this with a realistic market value will determine what needs to be spent.  This can be vary greatly, however anything from 1% - 10% of the market value may be spent with 5% being a good average.

Unlock the true potential of your home

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with this process, calling on a third party could most certainly help.   At Placelift, we provide a "ready for sale" consultation that consists of a detailed report full of recommendations specifically for your home.  Based on this invaluable advice, you will be focused with a clear goal in mind – “injecting the wow factor into your home”.  By acting on some or all the recommendations, will help you take your house to another level - a cut above the rest!

If you are selling your home in 2017, there will be one critical question you hope you will not be asking at the end of it “Why is my house NOT SELLING?” Just keep in mind, you only get one chance to make a great first and lasting impression – so get it right first time!

For the “wow factor when selling, get in touch with Placelift on 01 2548070

Converting your attic space to living space

When the only way is up!

When we are looking for solutions to our space and storage woes, it can be tricky to know what might best suit your specific requirements.  If confined to the existing footprint of your home, it can prove to be a challenge.  

If feasible, converting your attic space may be the answer to your dilema!

If it is just some additional storage space you are longing for, you can simply look at flooring out your existing attic space and perhaps fitting an attic ladder.  If you choose this option be sure to check that your attic is properly insulated and make provision for additional lighting if necessary.

In order to convert your attic space into a habitable area such as a bedroom, office or playroom you must meet all the current building and fire regulations.  The main reason for these strict guidelines is to firstly protect your family so that they can use this new living space safely and secondly if and when you go to sell your home to avoid any possible regulation compliance problems.

There are generally two types of loft conversations – a “roofline” conversion and a “dormer” conversion.  With roofline conversions a room/rooms are created within the existing shape of the present roof with the use of velux windows for light and ventilation.  Planning permission is not normally required for this type of conversion, however in order to justify all current building regulations you may require a full set of architects plans along with designs from a structural engineer.

Dormer loft conversions are when an existing roof space is extended in order to produce a more habitable room.   The design, shape and design of dormers can vary greatly. This type of conversion may also not require planning permission but advice should be sought from the professionals as the criteria can vary from property to property. 

Take care when choosing your windows as light will be a crucial part of this project.  White velux window frames tend to be more asethically pleasing and subtle than traditional pine.  Pay attention to the staircase function but also aim at creating a feature of it while being mindful of it blending and working with the rest of the house.

Converting your attic is an ideal way of adding value to your property.  With current property conditions it may be more viable option to improve and renovate.  Try taking a peek at your family, friends or neighbours attic conversions to establish clearly what you are hoping to achieve and of course to help fuel your creative juices!

Be sure to make use of all possible space by custom fitting storage units right along the eaves. 

For further information about loft conversions, the Department of the Environment have a very useful and informative guide called “Loft Conversion” – Protect your Family” which is available to download from their site www.environ.ie

Planning some home improvements, why not get in touch with us for a chat 01 2548070

 

Grand designs for small spaces

Re-create indoor home comforts outside!

When you think of dining alfresco and a tranquil contemporary stylish outdoor living, does your garden immediately spring to mind? 

With a little bit of inspiration and imagination you can create grand designs for a small space – something the whole family can enjoy and share.  By simply extending your indoor style outside, you can make your garden a place you want to hang out in – all summer long.

IMAGE CREDIT - HOUSE BEAUTIFUL

IMAGE CREDIT - HOUSE BEAUTIFUL

Rake, weed and feed

First things first, it is vital to devote some time and energy into the basics before you embark on this exciting transformation.  A general tidy up, addressing anything that might require mending or replacing is a good start.  Then, rake, weed and feed your lawn, later turning your attention to power washing your paths and patio spaces.

You should now have the perfect blank canvas in order to let your creative juices flow.  It may be a small space but don’t let this stop you!  Think big, be brave and adventurous and you might just surprise yourself.

New lease of life 

Instead of settling for your average fence life paint for your garden timber, why not check out the fabulous collection of ronseal garden paints and cuprinol “garden shades” collection available from your local Woodies DIY store www.woodiesdiy.com.  Don’t stop with your shed and fencing; consider reviving old chairs or plant pots with some contrasting colour.

Instantly increase your garden size and appeal with a large outdoor garden mirror.  You might even consider painting the mirror frame for a quirky twist. For some interesting options, check out your nearest Avoca store.

There is nothing more calming and cooling on a hot summer’s day than the gentle sound of flowing water.  If young children tend not to frequent your garden an innovative pond can be an exciting addition.  You could create a rockery with suitable plants and stones and recommended pond plants and even some fish.

If you are struggling for ideas, the perfect place to go is BLOOM in the park 2017 (on this weekend)!  Here you will see the latest in garden trends and innovation along with the opportunity to snap up some bargain plants and shrubs which will add a welcome burst of colour to your new garden haven.

If you can afford to splash out on some new garden furniture, go for it!   Otherwise, see if you can rejuvenate your existing.   Re-create the warmth and comfort of your indoors by adding complimentary cushions and comfy throws to your outside furniture.

Colourful plant pots

Rather than using your typical plant pots try and find some useful gems in your local antique or charity shop, that when filled with vibrant seasonal bedding or lush new plants will create an eye-catching feature.  For example, perhaps an old watering can or work boot or even a farm trough!  To create a simple and useful garden, consider a raised herb garden.

Let there be light

We always emphasise the importance of indoor lighting in terms of functionality and for setting the ambience and mood.  Why should outside be any different?  Look at providing lighting at various levels, so consider placing some lighting down low in between your plants, which will create interesting shapes and shadows and then some wall lighting.  If you have any large plants or a tree, some solar fairy lighting will work wonders. 

Draw out those long summer evenings with statement coloured lanterns, hanging bottle tea light holders or flickering candle light in decorative lanterns.

You may remember when patio heaters were all the rage but when the sun dips, you might prefer to cosy up beside an atmospheric fire pit creating 360° heat.  You won’t want to leave it!

Big fun in small spaces

Colourful bunting will add a lovely touch to any summer outdoor space, we absolutely love a local Wicklow bunting business www.beautifulbunting.ie.  You can simply choose a desired colour theme to work with your space. 

Now that you know that big fun can be had in small spaces let’s not forget the children.  Make it a mobile device free zone (for the children) at least!  Creative fun with their own planting area, a fairy garden, outside blackboard, pop-up tents, bubble machines, bouncy hoppers, trampolines, swing ball, paddling pool, waterslides, and sprayers to name a few!

To make the most of this summer, you had better get moving - enjoy!

For all things home improvement, get in touch with Placelift on 01-2548070

 

 

Essential check list for viewing a house

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These days you can pretty much buy anything online – even a new home!  Property only online auctions where successfully launched a few years ago and are still going strong.  Purchasing on a whim is all very exciting, but considering the price tag, the last thing you want is for something to come back and bite you!  On a big-ticket item like a home it’s imperative that you spend more than just 20 minutes viewing.  

Our advice when purchasing a house is to simply “leave no stone unturned”.

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A carefully curated plan prior to viewing a property is the best way to go!  Before you even consider making that appointment with the agent, ensure you have completed all your homework. You will find some great advise on this in last weeks blog post – http://www.placelift.ie/blog-entry/2016/11/15/tips-for-the-savvy-first-time-buyer

Location, Location!

Remember you can change most things with a property (some, subject to planning permission) but you CANNOT change its position.

What is the deal breaker?

Know what you want and try and stick to it!  What would you be prepared to compromise on and what would you not? 

Most estate agents will not thank me for this, but please ensure your agent earns their commission.  Don’t be afraid to grill them with questions - let them know that you are taking this process seriously! 

8 questions to ask your agent when viewing:

  1. How long has it been on the market?
  2. How long did the previous person live there?
  3. What year was it built?
  4. Has any work be done to it?
  5. Have you met the neighbours?
  6. What is the local traffic like?
  7. Have you sold similar properties in the area?
  8. Why is the property on the market?

Forget about love at first sight!

With the short supply, you may feel under pressure and somewhat desperate to find your dream home quickly.  But remember, you are about to make one of the most important decisions of your life, so you need to stay focused and be mindful of the commitment you are investing in.  Without being negative, you need to look at the house with a critical eye.  It’s best to look for reasons not to buy the house or reasons to pay less than the asking price.

When initially inspecting, try not to treat the house as a home, but rather as a property that needs a thorough inspection.  In other words, leave the emotions at the door step.  It is easy to fall in love with a house and forget to be practical!

PLACELIFT'S TIPS & ADVICE FOR THE SAVVY HOUSE VIEWER

  • The very first question we would ask is does the house look cared for?  Usually the condition of the external windows can be a tell-tale sign of the overall state of the rest of the house.
  • Never view a property on your own, take a partner, friend or relative who can help you spot the things you don’t!
  • Examine the exterior structure, looking for hairline cracks in the walls (if there are, you should investigate further).
  • Stand back and check the condition of the roof.
  • Has the property got security or fire alarms fitted?
  • Which way does the house face?
  • Is there sufficient drainage in the area?
  • Can you see or smell any signs of dampness, mould or condensation?
  • Closely inspect paintwork to ensure it's not hiding cracks.
  • Check out the quality of the interior window frames.
  • Open every window and door and make sure, that it is not warped or stuck.
  • New kitchens and bathroom-fit outs are expensive, so take stock of what is in situ and do the sums if needs be!
  • Test the condition of the floorboards.
  • Feel free to test fittings and fixtures.
  • Is there enough storage space?  Storage space will prove invaluable, so investigate the storage potential on a room by room basis.
  • Are the rooms big enough for your needs?
  • Watch out for the placement of small furniture in a small room to make it appear bigger!  Bring a measuring tape!.
  • Are any of the rooms overlooked?
  • Is there potential to re-model or extend?  You may not need this addition now but it may be top of you agenda a few years down the line.
  • How is the natural lighting throughout?

Beyond the bricks and mortar!

  • Check the number of power points and condition of the wiring?  Apart from being hazardous, rewiring a home can be expensive, so be sure to ask when it was last wired and get advice on same.
  • Check the age of the boiler.  When was it last services?
  • See what is the energy rating of the house: central heating, provision of hot water, window glazing and standard of insulation.
  • Check the number and condition of power points and when it was last rewired.
  • List anything that needs repairing or improving.
  • Check the plumbing, turning on taps, flushing all toilets, trying all showers.
  • Check the attic to see if it floored and insulated? See if could be converted.
  • Is the property adequately sound-proofed?
  • Take lots of photographs and even a video as this will give you plenty of scope to analyse and view later.
  • Feel free to have a good snoop, pulling back rugs and looking under furniture.
  • Don’t neglect the rear garden, fully inspect all areas.  Is the garden big enough for your storage and future requirements or too big when it comes to maintenance?
  • Do you have a side entrance, consider the implications if you don’t!
  • Do you have adequate and secure parking spaces?
  • Be wary of potential cover ups!  You are not going to be informed of existing problems, so it’s up to you to find them.  Watch out for using furniture to hide damp or wall cracks, painting over damp walls or rugs to hide damaged flooring to name just a few.  
  • On viewing, be sure to take your time and don’t let the agent rush you.  You should spend anything from 20 minutes to 30 minutes inside and out but be sure to spend extra time checking out the general location.
  • Don’t be afraid to arrange a second or third viewing at different times of the day as this will really give you an idea of what the house is really like.
  • The more often you view a house, the more likely you are to identify potential issues.
  • Ask the right questions when viewing and as many as possible.  Write down the answers so you can revisit at a later stage if needs be.
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If you have any real concerns, you should most certainly seek the opinion of a professional – it will be money well spent.  If you are not necessarily completely put off buying it, at least the viewing experience will give arm you with negotiating power, should you place an offer.

HOPE YOU FIND OUR HOUSE VIEWING CHECK LIST USEFUL!

HAPPY HOUSE VIEWING!

Once you have found your dream home, get in touch with Placelift for a chat 01 2548070

Tips for the savvy first time buyer

Are you ready to take the plunge?

Getting a foot on the property ladder or moving was not an option for most over the past number of years’; however fast forward to today and what with the rise in property prices and the sheer lack of supply, the pressure is most certainly ON – particularly for the first time buyer.

Finding your dream home

Deciding to buy is a big decision and is one that you should not take lightly as this may be the biggest purchase of your life!  You may enjoy trawling through the property finders in search of your dream home, however it is vital you take time to do your homework and look at the bigger picture before taking that leap.

Even though the banks have simplified the mortgage process, you need to consider other costs such as mortgage fees, valuation fee’s, survey and legal fees, removal costs, house repairs along with the expense of fitting out the property to name just a few.

Once you have secured your mortgage, you should set about searching for your ideal property within your budget.  You may be area specific, however, be sure that this location suits your modern day living requirements, your budget and will also cater for your future needs.

Compile a wish list for your ideal home and try and prioritise these in order of most importance.  While you may not have the option of some of these at least you can seach for properties on this basis.  If the house you find is missing a few or many of your key criteria, be sure that this sits well with you - but try and be realistic at the same time!

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Top tips for the savvy first time buyer

  • Use the web to provide you with a wealth of information including the history of the vicinity (positive/negative) along with a valuable insight into property pricing - past and current.
  • Don't view the property alone, an extra pair of eyes is more likely to spot something you might otherwise miss.
  • When viewing, ask your agent plenty of questions and request important answers in writing.  Ideally bring a written check list to work through with your agent.
  • Check with your agent first, but taking photographs will be of great benefit when considering this property later on.
  • View at various times of the day as daylight will help you notice any obvious deal breakers but also return in the morning and evening time to get a feel for the surrounding neighbours and neighbourhood.
  • Observe neighbouring properties and see if you can get chatting to some of the neighbours who may give you an honest assessment of the area and this will also give you a genuine feel for them.
  • Consider the resale potential and also if there is room to improve with perhaps the option of an extension, attic or garage conversion.
  • Give careful consideration to the garden, is it big enough, is it to big to maintain?
  • Check the immediate area surrounding the property to see if any existing or some future development could impact on this property? 
  • Check if there is sufficient drainage in the area, are you at risk of flooding.
  • Is there on/off street parking? Compare day and evening for off street parking it may be considerably different.
  • What is the traffic situation in the area?
  • Are there noisy roads, train tracks nearby or is it under a flight path?
  • How near is it to a reliable public transport system? How far are you from the nearest hospital, shop or local schools?
  • Consider what insurance, property tax and water premiums might apply to you.
  • Take the building energy rating seriously and consider how this could be improved upon - but at what cost.
  • High speed broadband and strong phone signals are vital for modern day living, so be sure to check both by bringing along your mobile device to test by making a call while walking around the property and browsing the web.

On viewing a property, the savvy buyer should follow a detailed checklist on what exactly to look out for – which I hope to bring to you next week!

In the meantime, don't get disheartened, do your homework and happy house hunting!

Once you find your dream home, find out more about Placelift's "Moving in Consultation" on 01 2548070

 

 

Timber decking maintenance, for your home!

We have all experienced those dreaded nights of tossing and turning, as we watch the hours drift slowly past.  We usually blame the last coffee of the day or that cheese snack just before bedtime - unless of course we are worried about something.  A timber decking came between me and my night’s sleep recently!

Image credit Pinterest

Image credit Pinterest

At Placelift, we undertake home improvement projects for home owners and landlords alike.  Recently, we were replacing a timber decking on a balcony of an apartment block.  We were all shocked at what we witnessed.  On this balcony, the extent of the rot was blatantly evident.  As our team began to remove the rotten decking it crumbled in their hands like that of a digestive biscuit. 

So, I hear you ask, “what protection lay between this rotten decking and the sheer drop to the ground below?”  The answer is, absolutely nothing!  The metal grid below had gaps wide enough for a child or pet to easily slip through or seriously injure an adult!

Take steps, before it is too late

The timber balcony decking rot was as a direct result of not receiving adequate maintenance over time.  This landlord was now taking appropriate immediate measures by fully replacing the decking to ensure their balcony was structurally safe for their tenants.  But what was perhaps more alarming was the condition of most of the other balconies in sight on that block and others nearby.  Many of the deck balconies were visibly rotten to the core and some had evidence of a foot going through them - basically a tragedy waiting to happen.

On that night in question, I thought of the people living in these apartments.  Over the coming days, weeks, months, some would go onto their balcony to relax after a hard day’s work, others might socialising with friends and family while others have young children playing on them.

Peace of mind is priceless

As property owners, we must all take responsibility for every aspect of our properties.  Peace of mind is not just about having sufficient insurance in place; it is about protecting the lives of others from possible risks.  Landlords are legally obliged to ensure their property is maintained in a proper state of structural repair.  In other words, maintained in good condition and repair and not defective due to dampness or otherwise.

With the arrival of Summer, if you have not already paid attention to your timber decking, it's not to late!

IMAGE CREDIT HOMEDIT.COM

IMAGE CREDIT HOMEDIT.COM

Although we experienced a pretty tame winter, your decking will still require attention, especially if you want to maintain its robust quality, longevity and smart appearance.

Five reasons for taking care of your timber decking:

  1.   Timber can be affected by moisture and poor weather conditions. 
  2.   The boards can become hazardous for those walking on them when they loosen over time, cracking, and breaking beneath.
  3.   As dirt, grime and mould accumulate, if not removed will greatly impact on the quality and lifespan of the decking as well as becoming   slippery.
  4.  Apart from your timber becoming damaged, your decking's visual appearance will look unloved and drab. 
  5.  Your deck is a statement garden feature allowing you to relax outdoors, so take pride in its appearance as you would for your interior  space.

All hands-on deck, with our tops tips!

  •         Clear between the boards of your decking scraping out all debris.
  •         Brush the decking getting into all the grooves.
  •         Repair or replace any loose or damaged boards.
  •         With a standard cleaning solution, as per the instructions, clean your decking adding as much water as is required.
  •         Then clean your decking with a standard wood cleaner and stiff bristled brush. 
  •         Having paid attention to the entire deck, ensuring the cleaner has soaked in and you can then rinse with water.
  •         Once the decking has dried (after about two days), you can begin to seal the decking.
  •         Lightly sand the deck.
  •         Replace any protruding nails or screws.
  •         Ideally on a clear warm dry day to increase its effectiveness.  Using a paint roller, you can seal by applying a water-repellent coating that           penetrates its surface (doing about three to four boards at a time).

After all your hard work, you can relax knowing that on the next warm sunny and inviting evening, you can kick back on your beautifully maintained timber decking with your favourite beverage or dine al fresco - in true style!

For your property and home improvement projects, talk to Placelift on 01 2548070

 

Less than 250 days to renovate your property

With warmer and brighter times fast approaching, some of us may be satisfied to just dust off the winter cobwebs in our homes while others may have more exuberant plans.

It may have been that sleek contemporary kitchen you saw on Pinterest or that jaw dropping lavish house extension Dermot Bannon curated on one of his recent series.  Or maybe that lux spa like new bathroom fit-out in your neighbour’s house – that has you green with envy.  Most of us tend to compare what we have with others and then of course aspire to a certain way of living within our own space.

Renovating your property all too often can be placed on the back burner as we can easily find reasons to put off anything that may invite stress into our already busy lifestyles.  Endless decisions, dust and disruption never mind the cost of renovating your home can all act as deterrents.

However, if you ever needed an excuse to get moving with your home refurbishment - here it is!  From today you have less than 250 days to plan, execute and pay for your home renovations – if you want to avail of the current Government Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI).

Getting work done on your home or rental property?

The Home Renovation Incentive Scheme is available to homeowners or landlords to claim an income tax credit on improvements, repairs and renovations on their principle home or rental property by HRI qualifying contractors.  A claim can be made for a single project or several projects. 

The tax credit is based on work subject to 13.5 VAT.   The incentive applies to qualifying work completed and paid for before the 31st of December 2017.  A qualifying contractor is a contractor who is registered for VAT and RCT and is tax compliant. To claim, your Local Property Tax needs to be up-to-date.

Prior to engaging with your building contractor, you should determine if they are in fact qualifying contractors.  The HRI qualifying contractor should enter the work details on HRI online before the work starts and then enter the payment details as they are received.  Homeowners and landlords need to check that the work and the payment details have been entered on the HRI online.

The amount you spend on qualifying works will determine the amount of your HRI tax credit. The minimum qualifying spend per property is €4,405.00 (before VAT) allowing you to claim a tax credit of €595 and the maximum tax spend to claim is €44,052 (before VAT) resulting in a tax credit of €4,050.

Taxing times, so make your claim.

The works covered by the HRI is wide ranging, for example home extensions, window, kitchen and bathroom replacements, painting and decorating along with garden landscaping.  Furniture, white goods, and flooring are subject to VAT at 23% so are not covered by HRI.

For PAYE taxpayers, the tax credits will be included in your tax credits over two years, starting the year after the work is carried out and paid for.  For self-assessed taxpayers, the tax credit will be included in their self-assessment spread evenly over two years.

It will be 2018 before you can claim the first HRI tax credits. Your HRI tax credits will be included in your tax credits over two years, starting the year after the work is carried out and paid for. If you are on PAYE, the HRI will be evenly spread throughout the two years.

If you check out www.revenue.ie/en/tax/it/reliefs/hri/ you will find out everything you need to know.

The process is very easy and straight forward with no long-winded application forms involved. There are just a few simple steps you and your qualifying contractors need to take care of.

Placelift’s easy guide to the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme (HRI):

  • Start planning your home renovations as soon as possible.
  • Seek the help of the professionals if you are having difficulty planning.
  • Plan to get all your qualifying works completed in one go or phased.
  • Set your budget and timescale.
  • Strictly only engage with qualifying registered HRI scheme contractors, otherwise you will not be able to claim.
  • Make it clear at the outset your intention to avail of this scheme.
  • Provide your Local Property Tax (LPT) number to your contractor requesting them to enter your works details on HRI online.
  • Check that your proposed works have been entered on HRI online by using your LPT number to access.
  • Once the works have been executed and you have paid your building contractors, ensure they entered your payment details correctly.
  • Claim back the total qualifying spend, throughout 2018 and 2019 in the form of tax credits.

Worth noting, that in last year’s budget (2016), the HRI scheme was extended until the end of 2017, but be warned there is no guarantee of another extension.  Unfortunately, if you wait until the budget, you may find it near on impossible to book a reputable and experience building services provider prior to Christmas – so keep this in mind. 

If you have any questions regarding the HRI scheme, please get in touch with Placelift 01 2548070.