F.A.Q.s

How much will it cost for a consultation ?

We always provide our first consultation at no cost and no obligation to you. This initial consultation allows us the opportunity to define the scope of the project and the suitability of our service to meet your needs. If our service is a match for your needs we will provide you with a fee proposal to follow.

Do we need maps or plans for our first consultation ?

Maps or plans of the existing house or site are useful, if you have them available, however they are not essential as we will provide a full measured survey of the property as part of our complete service

Where should our first consultation take place ?

For house extensions and modifications it is usually best to meet at your house in order for us to carry out an initial visual inspection and to understand the scope of work envisaged. For new private houses or new developments it is best to meet at the site, in order to understand the context created by surrounding buildings and possible site limitations such as overhead electricity lines or streams.

How are architectural fees calculated ?

Architectural and Engineering fees are traditionally calculated on the basis of a % of the total project cost, on a sliding scale. The House Architects commit to agree fixed fees for all our projects, based on an agreed scope of works, broken down to each project stage. This approach allows you to tailor the service you require to suit your project needs. You only pay for the services you use.

How long does the design process take ?

The length of the design process, from first consultation to final design, will vary depending on the scale of the project and the variables involved. For typical house extensions and alterations we expect to have designs finalised within 3-4 weeks of first consultation. For new private houses and developments it is usually necessary to develop a series of alternative designs which are presented at design review meetings, for your consideration. The designs are refined and new drawings prepared until you are entirely happy with the final arrangement. This process typically takes 4-6 weeks from first consultation.

Will we need Planning permission ?

The Planning Regulations in Ireland provide exemptions for a broad range of development types, with strict rules governing application of these exemptions in each category. For extensions to your own house, a rear extension up to 40 sq. m total area, with up to 12 sq. m at first floor level and a 4 sq. m front porch are exempt from a requirement to obtain Planning Permission under normal circumstances.

Planning Permission is generally required for new buildings, such as a new private house or a commercial development of any kind.

How long does the Planning Application process take ?

A Planning Application is lodged with the Local Authority where the site is located. The normal period for a decision on a Planning Application is 8 weeks, followed by 4 weeks for Third Party appeals, so you would normally have your Planning Permission within 3 months.

In the event that your Planning Application is appealed to An Bord Pleanala it is likely to take a further 3-6 months for a final decision.

How can I minimise the risk of an appeal to an Bord Pleanala ?

The best approach to minimise the risk of delay of your Planning Application by appeal to An Bord Pleanala is to use a professional Architect who will be able to ensure that the design complies with the Local Authority zoning rules and regulations.  The Local Authority Planners may also be consulted in advance. It is also important to liaise with your neighbours before your Architect lodges your Planning Application to ensure that you address any concerns they may have, which might cause them to appeal the application.

How should we select a builder ?

The normal method for selection of a building contractor is through Competitive Tender. This process involves asking a number of selected building contractors, with proven track record, to provide competitive pricing for the project on a confidential basis, using drawings and specifications provided by your Architect and Engineer. This approach ensures that the scope of work and quality of materials priced by all Contractors are exactly the same, for comparison purposes. It also ensures that the price you pay for the project is the lowest market price. The Contractor  who submits the lowest tender price is normally selected to carry out the work.

Does the Architect have a role during construction ?

It is a legal obligation for anyone commissioning building work to ensure that it is built in accordance with Building Regulations, and Planning Permission / Exemption criteria. The House Architects service includes Project Management of your project through the construction stage. This will typically involve execution of standard RIAI Contracts with the building contractor, regular site inspections to verify that the work is being constructed in accordance with Building Regulations, regular site meetings with the Contractor to address any queries arising. Close to completion of the project we will prepare a snagging report and verify that the contractor completes all defects identified before handover.

Is it necessary to have the work certified ?

It is a legal obligation for anyone commissioning building work to ensure that it is built in accordance with Building Regulations, and Planning Permission / Exemption criteria. On completion of your project The House Architects will provide you with certification in the form of an Opinion of Compliance for Building Regulations and an Opinion of Compliance with Planning Permission. These are legal documents which are required by lending institutions for funding and for future conveyance of your property. Only RIAI registered Architects can provide these documents.

Should the builder be paid up front ?

A good building contractor will never ask to be paid up front. Payments to the builder are normally made over the course of the construction period, typically at 2-4 week intervals depending on the project scale, in agreed amounts to reflect the progress of the work. You should only pay for work which has been completed. The Architect will inspect the work and verify at each stage that the work has been properly executed before payment is released.

How can the energy-efficiency of my house be improved ?

There are two principal approaches to improving the energy performance of a house;

  • Improving the insulation

  • Providing energy-efficient appliances, lighting, heating & hot water

Insulation of the building fabric can be improved by replacing windows with high-performance double or triple-glazed windows, improving insulation of walls using either external insulation systems, blown cavity insulation or composite board dry lining, and increasing insulation in attic spaces /roof slopes. The insulation performance can be further improved through air-tightness control and controlled ventilation systems.

Reducing energy consumption can be achieved by replacing tungsten bulbs with CFL bulbs or LED fittings, replacing white goods with A-rated machines and installation of a high efficiency combination heating system such as a condensing gas boiler with solar water heating roof panels. This quality of installation is standard for a new house built under current Building Regulations.

The House Architects can advise on the best energy strategy for your house and the cost-benefits of each approach.

The House Architects © Copyright 2018 | Father Mathew Hall, 131 Church Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7 D07 E363 | mail@thehousearchitects.ie | Tel: 087 978 2289 / 01 507 9990
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