Meet the Expert: How to avoid the rising costs of a house extension
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Meet the Expert: How to avoid the rising costs of a house extension

Jason McDonagh from Alainnbuilds on how to avoid paying over the odds when extending your home.

If you are a homeowner in Ireland looking for more space, the cost of extending your home will weigh heavily – especially during this period of economic uncertainty.

Onlinetradesmen member Jason McDonagh, director of Alainnbuilds, offers all aspects of building and carpentry work across Galway, including house extensions and attic conversions.

This month we chat with Jason and get the latest on what is happening in the building trade and his advice to saving money on a house extension.


Onlinetradesmen (OLT): What impact has COVID and Brexit had on the building industry?

Jason: In Ireland, we depend heavily on imports for all types of building materials, especially from the UK – therefore Brexit and the new trading relationship between the EU and UK was always going to be a challenge for the industry.

Now that we are adjusting to the reality of Brexit, I’m starting to see the cost of building materials increase - primarily due to the rise in shipping costs to get product into the country.

For example, a container of building materials that would’ve cost €3000 to ship last year is now costing as much as €6000 this year. This is bad news for the industry and property owners alike, and there is talk that we are going to see prices rising by 8% to as much as 15%.

On top of this problem is COVID; which is like a ‘double whammy’ as many in the trade will need to recoup lost earnings due to lockdowns - pushing prices up even further.


OLT: What is your advice to homeowners who want more space but don’t want to pay over the odds?

Jason: If a homeowner already has a builder contracted, existing quote in-hand and start date set then there is still time to revisit that quote with your builder and see where you are most exposed to changes in price.

A property owner should always guard against any unforeseen expense with a 5%-10% contingency fund and a builder worth one’s salt will work with a homeowner every step of the way to ensure the project goes to plan and budget.

However, if you are only starting to plan for an extension, then you should still be able to get more space while avoiding the brunt of rising prices.


OLT: What are your top tips on ways to save money when extending your house?

Jason: My three top tips for a home extension on a budget is keep your design simple, don’t go too high-tech on fixtures, fittings, electrics or heating systems and to choose a modular building over a traditional construction structure.


OLT: What is a modular build and how is it different from traditional methods?

Jason: Building technology has moved beyond standard brick and block, which is where everything takes place on-site from the ground up using conventional methods.

With a modular building system, much of the work is done off-site and once site preparation is complete, the system is brought on-site and put together like a series of puzzle pieces.




In many cases, we can have the groundworks done, the frame up and weatherproofed within a week and within 4 weeks a homeowner can move into their new living space.

The beauty of this type of construction is that labour costs are reduced significantly compared to traditional brick-built extensions, while still offering a high quality, energy-efficient build.


OLT: What is the typical cost of an extension using this building technology and how much can a homeowner save?

Jason: Before using this type of building system, the cost of a 20-meter square extension was running between €55,000-€65,000, taking around 8-9 weeks to complete.

With a modular home building system, you can complete a similar build in half the time, thereby reducing labour costs significantly. So now we are quoting around €55,000, starting from €60,000 (ex VAT) for an extension with an excellent finish.

However, the cost of building work very much depends on where you live in Ireland. For example, you should expect to pay between 20%-25% more in Dublin for a similar build.

Again, if with COVID or Brexit there is any shortage in the construction materials needed for your extension, then expect to see a rise in price as a consequence.

AlainnBuilds is a progressive and innovative building company established by Jason McDonagh in 2015.

Jason and his team offer all types of construction and carpentry services including decking, extensions and attic conversions delivering superior quality and service.


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