Simon Open Door 2012

Simon Open Door 2012


A huge thank you to my eight “clients” for this year’s Simon Open Door weekend. Now in its eighth year ( the third year for me) this event, for those who don’t know, is where home-owners pay a €50 donation to the Simon Community for an hour’s consultation with an RIAI architect to advise them on all kinds of aspects of their home and what they can do with it. It’s a very simple idea, and it’s very well run and well publicised. This year I believe the donations this year totalled around the €25,000 mark, with the overall figure donated for the eight years being around €265,000.

Like I’ve done in the previous two years for Simon Open Door, I once again took the show on the road and did all my consultations in the “client’s” homes. My rationale for doing this is pretty simple – it leads to a better quality of consultation. The only reason I can think of against it is that if people came to me I might manage to squeeze in a few more consultations than the eight I do. But to be honest, given that I work solo, I’m not sure I’d manage more than four in a day anyway. And I prefer to have the eight people I deal with get the most for their donation – and hopefully spread the word about this very worthwhile event.

This year saw me talking to people about extensions, alterations, refurbishments, storage – all the way from reasonably big building projects down to the benefits of changing a single door.

A small change for this year was that I had put out a call for people living in apartments to book a consultation, and I’m delighted to say two brave souls answered the call. I think there is a tendency to worry that if you can’t extend, then you can’t do anything, and this might stop apartment dwellers (and some house dwellers) from trying to figure out what they might be able to do to improve the space they live in. But just as is the case with houses, there are often ways to adapt, alter, re-jig, add storage, and generally upgrade an apartment without the need to add new space. I think that message came across in the conversations I had in the two apartments I visited, and that following on from our meetings there is a sense of potential in the minds of their owners. The funny thing about it (although I’m used to this by now) is that a lot of the potential-releasing ideas came from the owners, and if I had anything to do with it, then it was mainly through asking questions.

Of course getting a sense that you might have options and being able to justify doing them are different things, and like it’s been in the past two years with the Open Door consultations, there is a strong thread of negative equity running through the conversations. I find myself putting the brakes on a lot – bringing the conversation back to realities of budget and justification. I’m not sure if I’m always thanked for it!

Anyway, with the Open Door weekend done for another year it’s time to catch up with the day-job! Roll on Simon Open Door 2013…

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About Small Spaces

small spaces is a one-man architectural practice dedicated to helping people find the best way to add space to their home, or to make the most of what they’ve got. You can find out more here.