Were living abroad and wish to purchase a property in Ireland as a base. The property will need refurbishment. How can we best go about this?

February 2014

Question

We moved abroad six months ago and are keen to buy a property in the west of Ireland to have as a base in Ireland. We are looking at the moment at a house which was built in the early 1970s. It would need a lot of work, such as insulating and a new heating system, as well as redesigning the whole interior (ie gutting the inside and installing new bathrooms and a new kitchen). I am looking for your advice on how we can best do this without living in Ireland and also within a budget.

Answer

Buying and renovating a new house can be a very stressful process — especially if one is doing it remotely — so it is important to select the right person with the appropriate professional qualifications. He or she will ensure that much of the process can be carried out without the need for your attendance, with regular contact to give you full control and peace of mind at every stage. Early agreement on how the decision and a reporting process takes place will enable you to schedule visits and events with your adviser in advance.

Because this is an older property with a quantity of refurbishment work proposed, the best advice is to get in touch with a local building surveyor. They will be able to provide a comprehensive “building survey” which will schedule all aspects of the property that may need to be addressed to optimally preserve or enhance your investment, and you should also request a feasibility study so that budgets for each element to repair, alter and extend can be set and fees can be agreed at an early stage.

The next step will be a measured survey of the property with the resulting drawings forming the basis for proposals towards the design you require and will also advise if any other professionals, such as structural engineer, might be needed.

When the proposals and budget are finalised, all the detailed information required under the new Building Control Act can be assembled and appointment of your “assigned certifier” to ensure compliance with Building Regulations will be decided.

Your building surveyor will be able to assist you in the tendering process. On completion of the works, all services will be commissioned, the final account will be agreed and a defects schedule prepared and acted upon to ensure quality and fitness for purpose.

Finally, certificates of compliance will have to be lodged with the local authority for your new Irish home.

Fergus Merriman is a chartered building surveyor and member of MediKids, scsi.ie