How my service works...

sketch of fixer project

When it comes to your home, and how to get the best from it, every client and project are different. To find the best solution requires an individual response. Because what I do is tailored to each case, there is no “one size fits all” process. My aim is to provide home-owners with a flexible, expert range of services, leaving you to decide on the level of my involvement.

The first building block of my service is an “on-site” design and advice consultation, where I call out to you, look at what you’ve got (or are buying), listen to your aims, and give you as many initial ideas and as much advice as I can. This consultation can be a standalone service or the first part of a more involved set of services. To arrange a house consultation, or find out more, just contact me.

Following this, there are a range of further stages in a project where I can be involved, as designer and project manager, from the beginning right through to completion, or anywhere in between. These stages cover design, planning, tendering, construction; everything you might need to get the job done right.

For each job phase, we agree a “scope of service” and up front fee. That way, there is no guessing what the bill will be; you know from the start. Learn more about how I charge.

In my experience, there tend to be three broad stages to most jobs:

House Consultation

ahenny Project outside

Transforming a home, like any design project, starts out in a great deal of uncertainty. You may have ideas, goals and requirements but not be sure how exactly to achieve them, or how much it might cost to do so. You may feel that there is a better solution that you can’t see. You might be asking around and getting conflicting answers to your questions. You may worry that what you would like to do is not realistic, but you don’t have enough information to rule it in or out.

Since setting up small spaces to help homeowners to improve their homes, I have developed a flexible, hard-working, on-site consultation, which aims to leave the home-owner with the key things that you need to know at the outset of the project. It’s a mix of thought-provoking questions, design ideas and practical advice.

The main topics are:

  • Assessing the potential that your space has – what opportunities does it offer, what looks like it might work, what looks like it won’t? Sketches describing the options.
  • Discussing the budget and the scope of work it is likely to cover – ruling things in or out in broad terms.
  • Discussing the potential fall-back options if “Plan A” seems out of reach.
  • Advising on the need for planning permission, and the likelihood of getting it.
  • Advising on the kinds of work likely to be needed to refurbish, restore, improve energy efficiency and comfort levels.
  • And anything else you can think of…

Overall, the aim of the consultation is to set the client and the project on the right track – as quickly as possible. A consultation like this can be the first stage of my involvement in a project (see side menu for links to other stages). It can also be used as a standalone service, where you take things on yourself using the sketch plans and bullet point lists drawn up during the consultation itself.

Consultations like this are just as relevant to a house-owner thinking of extending, altering or improving; or to a house-purchaser hoping to assess potential and pitfalls; or to an apartment owner looking to eke out a better space from what they’ve got.

The amount of time that a consultation takes can vary (this is the flexible part), so the price is set within a range, depending on how long is spent on site. This leaves you in control of your costs. The likely time required can be discussed beforehand to help with this.

I work in and around Dublin, but have been known to travel further afield on occasion.

If a consultation like this sounds like something you might benefit from, and you want to arrange one, or find out more, then please get in touch – by phone, email, or by the contact form on this site.

Deciding what to do..

Following the initial house consultation, the way your project proceeds is with a design and feasibility study. This is where I take your more detailed measurements and start to look more specifically at what changes could be made and what they would achieve. I usually work out a variety of options ranging from the minimal to the comprehensive, and usually including a few from the “lateral thinking” box. We talk them over and I amend, amalgamate or alter the design until you have a few viable options. At this point you should have a clear front runner (or two) in your mind.

When you look at various options you are answering the question “what could I do”, but you’re never going to get anywhere until you move on to answer the question “what will I do?” You might have a preferred design solution in mind, but to be realistic you need to weigh the benefits against such factors as cost, planning, time, hassle, comfort etc. Because cost is such a key factor, I usually recommend that you take your preferred solution to a quantity surveyor for an independent budget. You will then have a clear picture of what you can do, how it benefits you and what it will take to get there – all the pieces of the puzzle that let you make a decision.

Putting it in place..

What’s involved in this middle phase, which can vary the most, will depend on the kind of solution reached earlier. Solutions I’ve come up with for homeowners range from very specific storage units or alterations to whole house refurbishments or extensions. For each case there is a different level of detail to be put in place. A big milestone has been hit when you decide what you are planning to do, but getting it done – and done right – is another story.

Of course, one of the major considerations in this phase is getting permission to do what you want to do. For a house this can mean getting planning permission; for an apartment there are also other potential roadblocks – leasehold conditions, management companies, fire safety etc.

If you are building, then you need to ensure that the structure complies with both good building practice and the raft of building regulations that are out there. You also want to make sure that you don’t entrust your home and sanity to a builder who can’t do the job properly. Choosing the right builder is crucial. This also applies to other consultants you might need, such as structural engineers.

And whichever way you look at it, either God or the devil is in the detail. Working your design out in detail and setting it all down on paper enables you to stay in control, means you gain clarity up front on the cost, and makes sure you get what you want, and know what you’re getting.

Getting it done..

Once the design is worked out, and the hurdles have been cleared, then it is time to get it implemented. How this is best done will again depend on the type of solution agreed. You might be getting fitted furniture made and installed for one particular alcove. Or you might be knocking half your house, moving out for months, and rebuilding your dream home. Either way, it’s unlikely that you can do it all by yourself. I can help you find and manage the people involved; I can help ensure that the job runs as smoothly as possible, and that the inevitable problems that arise during construction are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

As an experienced project architect, I am well aware of the stress and hassle involved in getting a job finished. I can help minimize the pain by ensuring that things happen on time, snags are dealt with and you get the documentation you need at the end of the job.

What I charge

What I charge depends on how much you want me to do (naturally enough), and rather than trying to detail it all here, it’s probably easier if we discuss it in person or over the phone. That way I can justify my outlandish fees (only joking).

The thing common to all my jobs is that the scope of service (and hence the fee) is tailored to the client’s requirements. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all standard service. Each job is broken down into stages, each of which is quoted for and agreed in advance.

Of course, while I can help you get tenders and quotations from builders, suppliers, and other consultants, they will bill you directly. I only charge you for my own work; an initial assessment, some architectural design or full project management.

Suffice to say, whatever I charge will be agreed in advance. My final invoice will match my original quotation. There will be no hidden extras or nasty surprises. Everything will be fully itemised and above board so you know where you stand (and vice versa).

Drop me a message or call me for a free quote

Address: 114 Parnell Road Dublin 12
Office: 01 454 7287
Mobile: 089 497 3161
Email: SmallSpacesDublin@yahoo.com