Room to Improve
Presented by architect Dermot Bannon, Room to Improve is about changing how we live through design and adaptation in simple ways without spending vast amounts of money. Each week involves the reconfiguration of an existing home to better suit the needs of the family living there. Some homes require extensions, others don’t.
20 – 26 Jan 2020: Episode 2
Airline pilot Ian Callaghan has bought a 1930s Victorian house in his hometown of Drogheda, County Louth, which he and his girlfriend Claire Moore are keen to call home.
Though full of charm and period features, the house is in dire need of renovation. Enter: architect Dermot Bannon with an innovative plan to retain the building’s century-old ambience while adding a radical modern living extension built around an exposed concrete wall.
The house is ideally located just 30 minutes from Dublin airport, but unfortunately, for half of every month, Ian isn’t. Absent on long haul flights for most of the build, he leaves Claire in charge of a site that’s soon beset with serious problems.
The first revelation comes with the discovery of dangerous, fifty year old wiring that will have to be replaced at considerable cost. But this is nothing compared to the shock of Dermot’s monolithic concrete wall and its deliberately distressed finish.
As a jetlagged Ian returns to site, he and Claire are determined to have Dermot rethink what they fear will be a huge, unwelcome eyesore. Naturally, Dermot has other plans.
Can he convince his clients that his high flying design is any more than a flight of fancy?
Last year, Aoife from Sutton and her wife Mel from New Zealand bought themselves a three bed semi in Baldoyle north Dublin – a tiny house in a spectacular bayside location.
With incredible, unobstructed views of the sea and Portmarnock golf course, they’ve been hoping to renovate the house to suit its superb location ever since.
With tiny rooms and fifty year old single windows, the house is cold, dark, and totally exposed to the gaze of passers-by on the road outside.
What they want is a bright, ergonomic and welcoming ultra modern home – a challenge their enthusiastic architect Dermot Bannon accepts with relish. Proposing to literally turn the house upside down with living space and a mezzaine on the upper floors, an atrium connecting to the rear garden and a huge bespoke picture window to capture the view Dermot’s plan is ambitious to say the least.
After a promising start, disaster strikes. An unstable roof and a extension built without foundations shuts the build down, leaving the girls facing a remediation bill of nearly 20 thousand euro.
With the site deserted and the project in disarray, the best view in North Dublin becomes an appalling vista.
Will Dermot’s vision ever see the light of day?
This week Dermot is in Maynooth.
Seven years ago, George and Sinead Mullis fell in love in with the Coach house – an 1850s building on half an acre of the historic former Carton Estate in Maynooth.
In 2014, they bought the place for just half of its former asking price and moved in with their two year old son Daniel. But what seemed like their dream home soon turned out to be anything but. With low ceilings and cramped rooms, the house is cold, damp and far from the family home they hoped it would be.
Like a knight in shining armour, architect Dermot Bannon steps in with a plan to extend and renovate the Coach House, but as construction gets underway, the truly dreadful legacy of the 170 year old house is revealed.
Alarmed at the presence of wet rot, builder Ian Harte calls in an engineer and, to the clients’ horror, it’s revealed that entire house from floor to roof joists is infested by a parasitic fungus. It’s the most disastrous setback any client of Dermot’s has ever faced.
Immediately, the 180 thousand euro budget is consumed by the massive cost of remediation as the house is stripped back to raw stone and reduced to a roofless shell.
As George and Sinead’s dream of a family home degenerates into a nightmare, where can the project go from here?
Is it finally time for Dermot to admit defeat?
A special edition of the show where Dermot revisits three of his favourite builds from earlier series: the Longford publicans he convinced the embrace the void, a couple moving home from California to Bishopstown and 14 year old Michael’s wheelchair accessible semi-d in Malahide.