How to Choose a Builder - Home Renovation Costs

How to Choose a Builder - Home Renovation Costs


In the first part of this series - Extension and Renovation Costs - we talked about how important it is to have a specific budget in mind and to relay this to you architect. In this post we will look at how to compare you builders quotes to ensure you are getting the required specification from each contractor.

PART 2 - Building Quote Comparison

Once you have discussed exactly what you want your architect will issue a set of tender documents which will be sent to a number of contractors for quotation. This is the most efficient way to receive a number of quotes from different building contractors.

If your project is relatively small and you are not using an architect it can be a daunting process. Make a list of every room, and what changes are being made in each one. See the sample below*

Once you have completed something like the above you can send it to the builders you are interested in using. As mentioned in part one, you should ask family and friends who they have used and would they recommend them for your project. Arrange to go and see some of their previous work to make sure you are happy with the quality of finish.

Put together as much detail as possible and then arrange to meet the various contractors at your house to discuss the changes and specification. It may take up to 6 weeks for the contractors to send through your quote so be sure to plan all of this well in advance of when you hope to start. As the economy improves the building trade tend to be a little slower in returning tenders and this could have an impact on the start date for your project.

When you receive all of your tenders make sure you read through them very carefully. Compare them to the specification you sent to them and tick off every item that they have included and make a note of the ones left out. As all of the builders will have a different way of wording their quotes make sure that you fully understand what is included and what will be additional. 

Have a look at our sample below and compare it to the specification above*

After all of the tenders have been received you might want to make another short questionnaire to clarify a few points that may be in some quotes but not in the others. This will help you compare all the quotes like-for-like. For example if you have sliding glass doors and one contractor has quoted for 2.4m high doors this would be substantially cheaper than 2.9m high doors. Or if one plumbing quote includes solar panels, one doesn't, one has included for coloured windows and one white. These are all points that should be clarified and your questionnaire will do that for you.

See sample questionnaire below*

*The above samples are from an extension and renovation project for a bungalow. The figures have been altered so do not represent guide prices for building works.


Extension and Renovation Costs

Extension and Renovation Costs


It's an exciting time when you are planning a home extension or renovation project. There are a lot of decisions to make and things to consider. In this series of posts we will try and explain the process and hopefully make it a little easier - from choosing an architect, comparing builders quotes, and then the nice one - interior finishes!

Part One - Extensions

Image from DMVF Architects

Image from DMVF Architects


A well designed extension can transform your home and the way you live in it. There are a number of things to consider before you engage with an architect.

1. Try to have a clear idea of what you hope to achieve by building an extension - Do you need a bigger kitchen, dining, living area, playroom? Do you want a more open plan room so you can see the kids while you are cooking? Make a wishlist of all your requirements - in order of priority - so that the architect can work these into the extension design.

2. Think long and hard about a budget. How much are you hoping to spend and how much you can afford are generally two different things. Having a figure before you approach an architect will help them with the design process. 

The actual cost of your extension can vary depending on the specification you want. For example if you want extras tall, extra long sliding or bi-folding doors they will be a lot more expensive than a standard sliding doors. The standard heights are usually up to 2.4 or 2.5m high. If you go over this size then you are looking at additional costs for the glass and frames.

We asked a number of builders to give us an average price per square foot for a standard flat roof extension. The prices vary from €100 to €130. They all said the same thing about the height, length and finish of the windows and doors. Anything extra tall will significantly add to the overall cost of the extension.

3. Have a style for the extension in mind. Look online and in magazines for ideas. Websites like, are great for inspiration. Print off the ones you really like or save them to an idea-book on the relevant websites. You can then share these idea-books with an architect, designer etc. 

Image from Robin Mandal Architects

Image from Robin Mandal Architects


Once you have completed the above it's time to contact an architect to help achieve the look you desire. Ask family and friends if they have used any that they recommend. Look on the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) website for the registered ones in your area.

Again if you look online at they will have images from architects and designers where you can see some of their previous work.

In the images above you can clearly see that one is more modern than the other. If you really have no idea what style you want then I would allow the architect to design what they feel looks best. They will have worked on numerous jobs like yours - leave it to the professionals!

Next Week > Choosing a builder and comparing quotes


Pulled Pork Burger Recipe


The calendar may say 'May Bank Holiday' - the start of the summer, but with temperatures only hitting 4 degrees you can keep the BBQ in the shed for another couple of weeks!

So using a new Neff Vario Steam Oven - here's a Pulled Pork Recipe that you can make to satisfy your al fresco dining ambitions:

Ingredients: 2kg piece of pork shoulder, de-boned and skin removed

Spice Rub: 1tsp salt, 1tsp brown sugar, 1tsp ground cumin, 1tsp freshly ground black pepper, 3tsp paprika

BBQ Sauce: 1tsp grainy mustard, 2tsp tomato ketchup, 1tsp fresh lemon juice, 1tsp dark Muscovado sugar

To Serve: Crusty rolls, coleslaw



120 degrees CircoTherm with High Added Steam

1. Mix together all the ingredients for the spice rub. Rub the spices all over the meat. Wrap up with foil and leave to marinate for several hours or overnight in the fridge.

2. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees CircoTherm and High Added Steam. Transfer the pork, still wrapped in foil into the universal pan. Cook for 5 hours or until tender.

3. Take out of the oven and cool slightly. Turn the oven up to 160 degrees Circo-Roasting with Steam Assist High.

4. Remove the foil and roast the pork for 45 minutes, basting well once or twice during that time.

5. While the pork is roasting make the BBQ sauce. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate until the meat is ready. When the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes, well covered to keep warm. Pop the rolls into the oven for a few minutes to warm through.

6. Take 2 forks and shred the meat into pieces. The meat should just fall apart. Mix with some of the BBQ sauce. Split the rolls and fill with the pork mixture. Serve with some coleslaw and the extra BBQ sauce on the side.

Enjoy! (Preferably inside, unless you have your North Face thermal jacket on!)

Recipe by Eleanor Martin. Image



Perfect Pancake Recipe

Perfect Pancake Recipe

Perfect Pancake Recipe.jpg

It's that wonderful time of year when the evenings are getting brighter, the daffodils are showing their green shoots, and 'Pancake Tuesday' arrives!

So here is a simple recipe for making the perfect pancake.

Ingredients: 110g of flour, 2 x eggs, 275ml of milk, pinch of salt, 50g of butter


1. Put all ingredients into a food blender or mix together by hand until smooth. 

2. Place the mix in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes (optional)

3. Take a small non-stick frying pan and lightly oil the base.

4. Pour in the desired amount of mixture and roll the frying pan to create your ideal thickness.

5. Cook on a medium heat checking the edges to see if it is ready for flipping. (or carefully turning!)

6. Flip or turn the pancake and cook until lightly golden.

7. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings.

8. Eat. Repeat. Enjoy!

2016 Best Kitchen Design Award

2016 Best Kitchen Design Award

The 35 million strong Houzz community has voted our company 'Best of Design' for 2016! We are delighted to receive this award again particularly this year as we are celebrating our 25th year in business.

Houzz is the number one resource for home renovation inspiration as users can follow their favourite design companies and easily collate  images for every room in their home.

Renovation and Home Design
Renovation and Home Design
Renovation and Home Design

'We won this award in 2014, 2015 and now again in 2016. With all the hard work that our design team and skilled craftsmen put in to their projects it's a lovely feeling to have this recognised by the Houzz community all over the world.

Houzz is the leading platform for home renovation and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish – online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world.

With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide.

Click to see the full press release here > > > >

Hamptons Style Home

The Hamptons is an area on eastern Long Island's South Fork which comprises of a number of seaside villages and hamlets, frequented by the affluent residents of New York City.

It's long sandy beaches are a popular summer destination and the area has some of the most expensive homes in the United States. The inland areas are littered with 18th-century shingle buildings and vast estates, usually well hidden from prying eyes. East Hampton is known for its designer boutiques and high-end bars and restaurants.

The latest kitchen from our Hamptons Collection is a wonderful example of how clever design and master craftsmanship work in harmony to create a beautiful piece of fitted furniture.

The carefully selected timber is used to frame our hardwood doors and then hand painted to provide a lovely matte finish, a similar style to those found in the luxury homes on America's East coast.

The use of natural stone on both the work surface and back-splash area add to the luxurious fell of this stunning South Dublin home.

View the full gallery here >>>

Modern Kitchen Dublin

Another stunning kitchen from our Modern Collection..

The feature floor to ceiling glass doors in the open plan kitchen and living area allows maximum light into the space. The shape of the room meant that one straight run of units and one large island to house the services was the optimal layout.

See the full gallery here >>>

Good Friday Recipe For Fish

Pan-fried Hake with Lemon and Herb Butter Sauce

Of course this recipe is great with just parsley but experiment with a combination of soft fragrant herbs sauce as parsley, chives, tarragon or chervil depending on what’s available. 

Pan-fried Hake with Lemon Butter Sauce 

Serves 4 


4 x 175g hake fillets, skin on and boned
1 tablesp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50g butter
½ lemon, pips removed
1 tablesp. chopped mixed herbs (parsley, chives and tarragon)

To Cook

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the seasoned hake fillets, skin side down. Cook for a couple of minutes until the skin is just beginning to crisp, then add little knobs of butter to the pan around each hake fillet and cook for another couple of minutes until the skin is crisp.

Turn the hake fillets over and cook for another 3-4 minutes until cooked through. This will depend on the thickness of the fillets. Transfer to warmed plates while you make the sauce.

Add the rest of the butter to the frying pan and allow it to gently melt over a moderate heat. When it has melted, add a squeeze of lemon juice and the herbs, swirling to combine. Season to taste. Spoon this sauce over the hake fillets and serve with steamed broccoli and some sautéed new potatoes.

Serving Suggestions

Steamed broccoli and sauté new potatoes


Above all be careful not to overcook the fish.  To check, gently prod the thickest part of the fish with a small knife.  If it is cooked, the flesh will look opaque and the flakes will separate easily.  If it isn’t done yet, it will still have the translucent look for raw fish.

Other fish you could use: Whiting, haddock or trout fillets

Nutritional Analysis per Serving

Protein: 39g 

Carbohydrates: 52g 

Fat: 26g 

Iron: 2.4mg 

Energy: 644kcal 


Recipe with thanks to

Latest Inframe Kitchen In Dublin

Our latest New Hampshire kitchen is the beautifully simple Tritonville. The handmade doors have been expertly crafted and wrapped in our solid wood frame which give the cabinets a classic contemporary look.

The use of the neutral white colour 'Shirting' from Little Greene and the white Silestone worktops give the room a lovely bright and airy feel.

View the full gallery here >>>

Best Kitchen Design Ireland

Noel Dempsey Design Receives Best Of Houzz 2015 Award

 Over 25 Million Monthly Unique Users Cast Their Vote For Top-Rated Home Building, Renovation and Design Professionals in the UK and Around the World


Noel Dempsey Design has been awarded Best Of Houzz by the Houzz community, the leading platform for home renovation and design. The small family business which is celebrating 24 years in business was chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 15,000 active home building, renovation and design industry professionals.

We are delighted to receive the prestigious design award from the Houzz community. This is our 2nd award from Houzz after we received the Best Kitchen Design in 2014.

"Houzz provides homeowners with a 360 degree view of home building, renovation and design industry professionals, empowering them to engage the right people and products for their project, said Gemma Smith, Industry Marketing Manager at Houzz UK and Ireland. Were delighted to recognise Noel Dempsey Design among our Best Of professionals as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively renovating and decorating their homes.

Follow Noel Dempsey Design on Houzz

 About Noel Dempsey Design

For almost 25 years Noel and his team of master craftsmen have been creating stunning bespoke furniture from their workshop in County Wicklow.

Their unrivaled customer service and design expertise has helped them become Irelands premium furniture manufacturers, working for clients in Ireland, the UK, Europe and North America.


About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home renovation and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish - online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Tokyo and Sydney. For more information, visit

Pickled Pears Recipe

Our good friends at Smyth and Barry will be sharing some of their favourite recipes with us from time to time so we thought we'd kick off with a delicious festive one - tis the season!

pickled pears recipe

Pickled Pears

We love to pickle this season’s delicate Pear William as a delicious accompaniment to
Cashel Blue or, our particular favourite, Crozier Blue served with warm brown soda
bread. This is a quick pickle, once the pears are poached in the pickling liquor and
cooled they are ready to eat. But if decanted immediately into sterilized jars, these
pears will keep for months. You might make them as a delightful gift for a foodie

For particularly festive pears, as an alternative to using the pickling spices set out
below, you might like to use the mulled wine spice mix from Green Saffron. We adore
this blend of spices from blended in Middleton, Co. Cork.


4 Pear William (or your favourite pear varietal)
500ml White Wine Vinegar (we use Aspall)
350g Caster Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
Peel of 1 Orange
1 Bay Leaf
2 Cloves
1 Star Anise


Bring the vinegar, sugar and pickling spices to the boil in a medium saucepan, stirring
frequently to dissolve the sugar. Once boiled, reduce to a gentle simmer.
Now peel your pears and submerge in the simmering pickling liquor. Cover the saucepan
and poach the pears for about 40 minutes until the pears are tender. You can test the
pears with a skewer or the tip of a small knife.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Eat once
cooled, or decant into a sterilized vessel and eat later. 

pickled pears

Glen Valley Painted Kitchen

Another beautifully simple hand painted kitchen from our Plain English Collection.

The combination of the neutral colour scheme and Solid Oak Island worktop give this Plain English painted kitchen a contemporary feel.

Our simple floating shelves and chunky framing around the fridge freezer show exactly how our custom made kitchens stand out from crowd.

View the full gallery here >>>

Gracefield - Painted Kitchen Dublin

I love this kitchen! It is a simple 'L' shape design with some standout features. Namely the Georgian framed wall cabinets and the curved larder unit.

The neutral white quartz worktops are durable and easy to maintain while matching the large Belfast sink.

See more images here >>>

Eden - Painted Kitchen Wicklow

From our Hamptons Kitchen Collection this Eden design is a beautiful shaker style kitchen. The cabinets have been exquisitely  hand painted in Colour Trend 'Place of Dust.' Eden Painted Kitchens Wicklow 5

The white Silestone worktops are by Miller Bros. Stone.

To view the full gallery CLICK HERE > > >

Hand Painted Kitchen - Sandymount Road, Dublin 4

This is our latest hand painted kitchen recently installed in Sandymount, Dublin 4. The kitchen was hand made by our skilled cabinet makers and painted on site in Farrow and Ball 'Pavilion Gray.'

Painted Kitchens Sandymount, Dublin 4

The neutral tones of the Farrow and Ball paint colour and Silestone 'Lagoon' worktops are a beautiful contrast to the walnut flooring.

See more of the images here


Best of Houzz Kitchen Design Award Winner 2014

Noel Dempsey Design Receives

Best Of Houzz 2014 Award

 Annual Survey and Analysis of 16 Million Monthly Users

Reveals Top-Rated Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals

 February 5, 2014 – Noel Dempsey Design has been awarded “Best Of Houzz” by Houzz, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The family run business that make bespoke kitchens and furniture was chosen by the more than 16 million monthly users that comprise the Houzz community.

The Best Of Houzz award is given in two categories: Customer Satisfaction and Design. Customer Satisfaction honors are determined by a variety of factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2013. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 16 million monthly users on Houzz, known as “Houzzers,” who saved more than 230 million professional images of home interiors and exteriors to their personal ideabooks via the Houzz site, iPad/iPhoneapp and Androidapp. Winners will receive a “Best Of Houzz 2014” badge on their profiles, showing the Houzz community their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz. 

 “We are delighted to be awarded the ‘Best of Houzz 2014.’ Our knowledgeable staff put a lot of time into answering questions from the Houzz community. Having one of our custom made painted kitchens added to over 6,000 ideabooks is very rewarding!”

“Houzz provides homeowners with the most comprehensive view of a home improvement professional on the Web, empowering them to find and hire the right professional to execute their vision,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz. “We’re delighted to recognize Noel Dempsey Design among our “Best Of” professionals for design as judged by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts who are actively remodeling and decorating their homes.”

 With Houzz, homeowners can identify not only the top-rated professionals like Noel Dempsey Design, but also those whose work matches their own aspirations for their home. Homeowners can also evaluate professionals by contacting them directly on the Houzz platform, asking questions about their work and reviewing their responses to questions from others in the Houzz community.

 Follow Noel Dempsey Design on Houzz Click To Follow

 About Noel Dempsey Design

A family run business with over twenty years of experience in the bespoke kitchen and furniture market. The range of custom made furniture includes solid wood, hand painted, high gloss kitchens, wardrobes, bathroom vanity cabinets, media rooms, wall paneling, home office.

 About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish - online or from a mobile device. From decorating a room to building a custom home, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community powered by social tools, Houzz is the easiest way for people to get the design inspiration, project advice, product information and professional reviews they need to help turn ideas into reality. For more information,

Five Of The Best Interior Design Apps For Home Renovation

5 of the Best Interior Design Apps for Home Renovation


We all have home renovation projects that we want to get stuck into. Project Management can be an issue and taking the time to choose how to go about a project is vital in getting it right. Whether you are looking into upgrading your kitchen design, adding a built in wardrobe or knocking through a wall, we’ve got the apps that will make all the difference.

Five Of The Best Interior Design Apps For Home Renovation

Best for Room Inspiration


Without doubt one of the best apps out there for home inspiration. The apps holds collections of photographs of all types of rooms, locations and products. The Houzz content team curate the products in detail and it even includes a directory of professionals in your local area. These range from contractors, designers and architects. Even when you save photographs, you can still access them offline. The app is free and available on iOS and Android.


Best for Colour and Paint

My Pantone

Pantone recently announced ‘Orchid’ as the ‘2014 Colour of the Year’. Stay on trend with colour inspiration by downloading this app, available on iOS and Android.  Over 13,000 colours are included on this app so you can browse your choice of paint for your walls, floors and furniture to your heart’s content. Already have a primary colour selected but looking for a complimentary colour to highlight a room? This app will suggest colour combinations where needed.  If you’re an iOS user, you can also print out a colour palette as the app works with Apple’s AirPrint.


Best for Layouts and 3D Modelling

Home 3D

ABC News in the US recently reviewed Home3D and described it as ‘one of the best 3D modelling apps available’. While it’s only available to iOS users currently, it packs a punch when it comes to recording the exact blueprint and house dimensions on your iPhone or iPad. The biggest advantage is that you will be able to get a visual of what your room will look like and also make sure that everything fits to the specifications that you need.



Best for Measurements


This apps is available on iPhone and iPad, it saves measurements onto the photographs of your rooms. Take a picture, add in the measurements and zoom in or out for more details as needed. The main benefit is that it is very handy when you are on the go and considering new furniture in store or online. If you are someone who is often asking yourself ‘will it fit’? This is the app for you.

By David Dempsey


Suffolk Kitchen - Hand Painted

Here is our latest Plain English Kitchen with large island and hand painted in two beautiful contrasting colours... Suffolk Painted Kitchen

After being recommended by a friend, the client called to our kitchen showroom in Wicklow to get some kitchen design ideas for their home renovation. After seeing our Plain English Kitchen they immediately knew that that was the new kitchen they wanted.

Suffolk Painted Kitchen Ireland

See the full photo gallery in the Plain English Collection on our website, or come and see our kitchen designs in our showroom, only twenty minutes from Dublin.

Designed by David Dempsey

Go to Suffolk Kitchen Gallery >>>

Hand Painted Kitchen Wicklow

A Noel Dempsey Painted Kitchen Check out our latest bespoke hand painted kitchen from our Contemporary Collection.

The simple muted colour tones with solid walnut detailing add a touch of colour and warmth to this beautiful hand painted kitchen.

See the full image gallery for this particular kitchen design here >>>

Designed by Noel Dempsey