7 Steps to renovating a vacant or derelict property
Kelly Ohlmus
/ Categories: Project Advice & Ideas

7 Steps to renovating a vacant or derelict property

Understand the processes required from planning, preparation and execution when attempting to transform a vacant or derelict property into a home.

The introduction of the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant by the Irish Government is an opportunity for many to turn a vacant or derelict house or building into a permanent home.

While any renovation project can be rewarding, there are many pitfalls and challenges in turning an abandoned and often neglected property into a habitable and attractive space.

Here we discuss the processes required from planning, preparation and execution when attempting to transform a rundown property into your dream home.


Step 1: Research & Planning

For many, buying a vacant property can be a cost-effective way to get into the housing market, especially for first-time buyers.

While purchasing a derelict property can be a potential opportunity, it is important to conduct thorough research on the property and surrounding area before making a decision.

This includes reviewing building codes and regulations, determining the local zoning requirements, and researching the real estate market.

To fully understand any potential challenges, it's recommended to work with experienced professionals, including engineers and building contractors.

Additionally, having a clear idea of what your renovation goals are and the budget you have to work with will help ensure a successful outcome.


Step 2: Property Assessment

A thorough property assessment includes evaluating the structure, electrical, plumbing and heating system and identifying potential safety hazards or other issues which need to be addressed.

A structural engineer will have the expertise and knowledge to evaluate the building, identify potential problems, and provide recommendations for a safe renovation.

  • The first step in evaluating the structural integrity of a building is to do a visual inspection. The engineer will look for signs of damage, such as cracks in walls, bulging or leaning walls, or sagging floors.
  • The floor and roof are critical components of the building’s structure. An engineer will inspect these areas for any signs of sagging or settling, which could indicate a problem with the foundation or framing.
  • The foundation is the backbone of the building and must be stable for the building to be safe. The engineer will examine the foundation for cracks, settling, or any other signs of damage.
  • Plumbing and electrical systems play an important role in the structural integrity of the building. The engineer will inspect these systems to ensure they are in good working order and not causing any structural damage.
  • The roof structure must be strong enough to support the weight of the roofing material and any snow or rain that may accumulate. An engineer will inspect the roof structure to ensure it is in good condition.
  • The exterior walls of the building must be sturdy and able to resist wind and other environmental forces. The engineer will inspect the walls for any signs of damage or weakness.

After completing the inspection, the engineer will provide a report outlining their findings and recommendations for the renovation. This report will be essential in determining the scope of work needed to bring the building up to code, and safe for occupancy.  It will also help you create an accurate budget for the renovation, as well as identify any potential roadblocks that may arise during the renovation process.


Step 3: Secure Funding

Once you have a detailed plan, including a timeline, budget and the scope of work involved in the renovation process, you may be looking to secure funding or access government grants necessary to complete the project.

If you are looking to buy or have bought a vacant or derelict property, and the property has been vacant for two or more years and built before 1993, then the Vacant Property Refurbishment Grant might be a good option for you.

You can get up to €30,000 to renovate a vacant property and an additional top-up grant of up to €20,000 if the property is derelict.

You can apply by submitting a completed application form, supporting documents, and a quote for the renovations to your local authority.

If you decide to sell or rent out the property within 10 years, you will have to repay a portion of the grant, depending on how long you’ve lived there, but if the property is your primary residence, you don’t have to repay anything.

The Help to Buy scheme may also be another avenue to secure funding. Designed to help people get onto the property ladder, it provides first-time buyers with the opportunity to withdraw loans from their local council for houses costing up to €360,000. In order to qualify for the scheme a first-time buyer must be employed for the last two years and have been turned down for a mortgage from two lenders. The loan can be used to purchase a new or second-hand home or to build a home.


Step 4: Hire Trade Professionals

For a successful renovation, it's important to hire professionals with relevant expertise. This may include architects, electricians, plumbers, and other professionals as needed.

You should take the time to thoroughly vet these individuals and companies, including checking references and verifying licenses and insurance coverage.

Onlinetradesmen is an easy and convenient way to access a wide range of tradesmen for your home renovation project. You get access to local and reliable tradesmen while we ensure all tradesmen are verified. Customers also benefit from the experiences of others by reading reviews and ratings from previous homeowners, helping them make informed decisions about which tradesmen to choose. Post a Job Today!


Step 5: Demolition and Clearing

Once the professionals have been hired and the assessment of the property is complete, the next step is to clear the property of any debris, remove any damaged or unsalvageable structures and prepare the site for construction. This stage also involves tearing out any outdated or damaged fixtures and removing any hazardous materials such as lead paint or asbestos.



Step 6: Renovation

With the property cleared, the next step is to begin construction. This may include installing new electrical, plumbing and heating systems, constructing new walls and partitions, installing new flooring and fixtures, and completing any other work outlined in the renovation plan. Here is just an example of the work which may be required during a renovation process.

  1. After the demolition is complete, you may need to reinforce the building's structure. This may include adding new beams, joists, and supports to ensure the building is safe and secure.
  2. After the structure has been reinforced, you can install new plumbing, electrical, and heating systems. This will ensure that the building is comfortable and functional.
  3. Adding insulation to the walls, floors, and ceilings will help keep the building warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  4. Replacing old windows and doors with new, energy-efficient ones will help reduce your heating and cooling costs.
  5. Once the plumbing, electrical, and heating systems are installed, you can start finishing the interior of the building. This includes adding drywall, painting, and flooring.

Depending on the complexity, renovating a derelict or vacant building can take several months or even years.

Although a detailed plan will help ensure the project runs, throughout the construction process you will need to closely monitor your budget, timeline, and quality of work to ensure that everything stays on track.


Step 7: Finishing Touches

With the construction phase complete, the final step is to add the finishing touches to the property, including painting, installing lighting fixtures, landscaping, and completing any final clean-up work.

Renovating a vacant or derelict property can be a complex and challenging process, but with careful planning and execution, you will have the satisfaction of turning a run-down property into a beautiful and comfortable home. To find qualified professionals for your project, post a job today.

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