Spring home show expects record numbers

The spring Permanent TSB Ideal Home Show is back in action at the RDS next week

The spring Ideal Home Show is back at the RDS on April 20th-22nd.

The spring Ideal Home Show is back at the RDS on April 20th-22nd.


“There is a huge buzz about renovations at the moment,” says Sean Lemass, managing director of show organiser SDL Exhibitions. “We are seeing more investment in home improvements as property values increase again and people can feel confident that they are not wasting money but investing it, knowing it will add value to their homes.”

More people are in a position to do it too. “We have moved out of negative equity, many people will have paid off a good chunk of their mortgage and banks are now happy to give them the money to make improvements. You only have to drive down any street to see how much work is going on right now, which is why the show is so relevant.”

If you are planning on getting work done, it could be a case of sooner the better. “It’s a really good time to be doing it because the banks are lending and there are still great tax breaks in place that make it very attractive to do so,” says Lemass.

These include the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme, the First Time Buyers Help to Buy scheme and SEAI energy grants. “These are government tax breaks which were brought in when times were bad and may not be around for much longer.”

This time last year Lemass was thinking about renovating his own home. “We bought an old period house in Blackrock in 2006 and always planned to extend it but then the world changed and we had to wait,” he says in a variation on a theme that will be familiar to many show visitors.

He found an architect at last year’s show and finally set to work. “It’s a lovely house but it was let down by a narrow galley kitchen that we always wanted to extend and modernise. Doing it has transformed the house. We haven’t seen the living room since Christmas.”

Family extension

Very many show visitors will be thinking of following suit, particularly as the theme of this year’s show house is how to build a family home extension. The autumn Ideal Home Show attracted more than 26,000 visitors planning to spend a combined €45 million in home improvements. Of these, 28 per cent wanted to build an extension.

The autumn Ideal Home Show attracted more than 26,000 visitors planning to spend a combined €45 million in home improvements.
An image from the autumn Ideal Home Show 

The Irish Times Home & Design Theatre will be on hand to help. One of the show’s highlights, it has a packed programme of seminars and panel discussions with one of its strongest ever line-ups of expert speakers, headed by TV’s celebrity interior designer Linda Barker.

Topics to be covered include everything from making the most of small spaces to future proofing your home to boosting your energy rating.

The Colourtrend Interior Design Forum will be in full swing, with leading interior designers creating individual room sets perfect for those seeking colour inspiration.

This year’s show house is the brainchild of designer Kathrina Furlong of Yours Personally, who – working with Martin Prunty of Construct Plus – has built the ground floor of a standard three-bedroom semi-detached home and given it a modern extension.

No planning required

“We are showing just how much can be achieved with an extension of less than 40sq m,” says Furlong. The advantage of this kind of extension is that it can be done without the need for planning and, therefore, without the need for architects’ drawings.

“That gives you savings, you don’t have to worry about the neighbours and you don’t have the long time delays associated with the planning process,” says Furlong, who has taken the ground-floor design of a real house she found for sale on MyHome.ie in a Dublin suburb, to show just how transformational a good extension can be.

She has refigured the home and garage from its standard layout of hall with downstairs loo and sitting room plus kitchen/dining room at back into something bright, spacious and fit for all kinds of purposes.

“We have designed it in such a way that you now have an adult sitting room plus a multipurpose room that can be used as a bedroom with bathroom for a teenager, or for when granny comes to visit, as an office or as a playroom, depending on your needs. We have also put in a utility, pantry, full bathroom and a large airy open plan kitchen, dining and TV room all to the back of the house, all of which can be done without the need for planning permission, in a way that future proofs it for tomorrow” says Furlong.

She’ll be on hand to discuss the fixtures and fittings she chose to finish the showhouse, all of which have a dual emphasis on good looks and practicality. “We have a countertop that looks like granite but which you could take a blow torch to because it is indestructible, and we have kitchen tiles that look and feel like wood, so you get the warmth of wood with the durability of tiles,” says Furlong.

Free advice

Though an enormous amount of business is transacted at the show each year, it’s a great place to go for free advice. “Before we did our own extension I spoke to an estate agent to see if I spent X amount of money, would I get it back in resale value, and he said yes,” said Lemass.

“I had also had a grander plan. I asked him to look at but for that one he said no, you won’t get that back, it’s too high a figure, so we revised our plans. It’s all about advice. Come and ask questions.”

The House Buyers & Movers Advice Centre will have legal advice from Lee Solicitors as well as representatives from the Property Regulatory Authority, there to help buyers who feel they’ve been gazumped.

It also includes Hunters Estate Agents, which has an in-house staging division headed by interior designer Deirdre Walshe. Hunters will also be offering information on its unique buyer’s agent service, run by professional house hunter and TV presenter Liz O’Kane.

She is currently working for a number of overseas clients keen to get into the property market here. “We also have Irish people abroad who are looking to relocate home and Irish people here who are simply too busy to narrow down a short list of suitable properties at their budget,” says O’Kane.

And there will be real live builders. This in itself is an attraction. “Builders build, they tend not to market themselves. Most don’t even have websites,” says Lemass. “We will have builders at the show who are here to talk to and are actively looking for business.”

The fact that builders are like hen’s teeth isn’t the only bellwether of the market right now. There is one other big indicator, says Lemass: “Jacuzzis are coming back.”

The Permanent TSB Ideal Home Show takes place at the RDS Simmonscourt Dublin, April 20th-22nd.