Posted: Wednesday, October 19th 2011
Frankly Kitchens Supplied the Pivot Book Shelf, sliding Wardrobe and the Kitchen
John Rochford from Dublin and Lee Benn, originally from Limerick, have bought a house in their dream location - South Dublin's seaside suburbia, Blackrock. Although the location is perfect, it will take a serious amount of work before the couple's new home becomes anything idyllic.
John's hobby in life is houses, each week he looks forward to the property supplements of every newspaper and is a dab hand at spotting a potential bargain. In January 2010, John's eye's were immediately drawn to an1890's villa style cottage for sale on Avoca Place, Blackrock. John liked what he saw but didn't like the price tag. Always happy to haggle for a bargain, the original asking price of €495,000 was soon slashed to a rock bottom price of €310,000. On the other side of John's negotiating skills, the couple were able to sell their house in Booterstown for a tidy sum, allowing them to continue their lives mortgage-free and with some left over.
From the outside, the cottage looks cute and complete, however one step in the door and Dermot wasn't so convinced:
"You've bought the biggest can of worms that you've ever bought in your life. It's not in great condition, there's a lot of damp, there's leaks everywhere. The walls are filled with random rubble and packed with plaster. The floor boards are in bad condition and rotting. There are mushrooms growing everywhere".
With the location box ticked on Johns list, Dermot points out the rest of the price that John will need to pay,
".....these beautiful houses in a very exclusive area - are all just mud huts....You've bought yourself a mud hut".
Since they found it, John - who is a bit of a budding architect - has been completely consumed by the house's renovation - considering every imaginable design:
"The house is quite small, it needs an extension and it has to be right, it's as simple as that".
John and Lee's budget is modest, given the work needed and the couple's insistence on high-end detail - €160,000 all in. The terraced, villa style cottage from 1890's, has lots of cellular rooms, but what they want is open-plan with maximum use of space.
Things don't start well, with QS Patricia Power costing Dermot's initial plan at a massive €29,000 over budget. And there's more bad news on the way. On the first day of the build, contractor Ian Harte discovers that Dermot's new extension doesn't actually fit the shape of the plot and will actually end up in the neighbour's back garden. "If Dermot can make this plan work, he's a genius."
Watch the final episode of Room to Improve on the 19th October 8pm - 9pm on RTÉ One