When was the work done?
What was involved?
Work primarily consisted of a rear extension. Also got other related internal works downstairs completed such as a new loo, utility room, storage space and double doors between rooms.
The second part of the project with SBC (Swords Building Contractor) consisted of a concrete base installed in the rear garden for a future games room. This base had services included too.
SBC work was completed to a builder's finish.
We completed the final finish ourselves later adding new kitchen, flooring, painted and furnished.
How did you choose Swords Building Contractors?
Online search of builders in Dublin returned the website, pickapro. This website seemed the best Dublin reference for home building jobs, with photos and reviews all in one. Following this a few preferred builders were invited to discuss and quote a draft project.
From these meetings one got an impression of each builder, their attention to the customer and how they discuss your options which tells you about their experience. Price quoted is important but so too is the quality and detail of the quote.
I was impressed by the builders I met and the fact they use this website where reviews are open shows that they are willing to prove themselves and stand by their work.
SBC previous extensions on pickapro were similar to what we desired. We knew a person who recommended them. SBC were price competitive, skilled and with a track record that they deliver and they were available when it suited us.
When it came to picking our builder we found that we trusted Peter most and were confident of the job being completed with good communication along the way. SBC were conscientious that we were going to be living there throughout most of the works. SBC also offered us the opportunity to view previous works and a current job in progress which I availed of.
I would recommend SBC to anyone and everyone. I didn’t think I’d be happy leaving my house keys to a builder and letting them start without keeping an eye over them, but I could relax knowing it was in good hands.
If Peter gets too busy after this review, he only has himself and Patrick to blame. SBC consisted of Peter and Patrick at the time.
Had you definite ideas in mind before you talked to Peter Ashmore?
Yes, we did but we were still open to suggestions. Peter informed us of more glazing options and number of skylights suitable and lighting, plus insulation levels. The glazed apex options was the main bonus.
Once our plans were finalised and to ensure these ideas were clear and to the correct spec we got them drawn up professionally through a local architect, GAP Architect. This gave us extra peace of mind that the job requirements were documented and drawn properly with correct specifications. The builder was also aware of construction inspections by my architect at regular intervals. Whilst it does cost extra it’s a small percentage of the overall project compared to if something was overlooked and had to be corrected at a later date.
Even though my design plans didn’t change much GAP Architects still added valuable advice such as extra structural steel beam supports, better use of utility room and minor design change to improve roof pitch. GAP also had contacts in the industry for us to get the work certified structurally which was required by the bank.
Did Peter introduce new ideas?
Yes Peter did provide ideas and options. He answered any queries we had and this helped us finalise our plans. Best thing was if we wanted a minor adjustment i.e. stud work depth moved in time, it was not a problem.
Peter confirmed the glazed apex design and also advised on four skylights rather than just the two that I was budgeting, which we’re glad we did. Peter also provided landscaping recommendations to us and we availed of his extended crew for this. Whilst we hadn’t considered landscaping at the start of the project I was really surprised how well it complements the extension and garden games room.
Peter also advised on the rear door option in our glazing. Keeping with the double French door style meant both doors can open and allow easy access of furniture in the future.
How did the project run?
Peter's communication and approachability was top notch – this is the main selling point.
Schedule wise the project started on time and work continued straight through with no days missing. Similarly payments were made pro-rata with status of the job which makes sense for both parties. And online HRI forms were filled in and we availed of the Grant for Home Renovation Incentive.
Cleanup: Each day the works were given a quick clean which was appreciated as we lived there throughout with 2 young kids. That way we could manage the rest. Wasting money rent elsewhere was not desired.
Workmanship: All the work was top notch whether it was Peter's main crew or a specialised tradesperson i.e. sparks, tiler etc. If anything small needed changing or adding to the project it was simply done. We got drainage included with the landscape paving.
What was the biggest benefit to you of using Swords Building Contractors?
Primarily Peter was very nice to deal with and we were comfortable dealing with him. An honest and trustworthy guy with great focus on customer satisfaction. His crew likewise were approachable.
Once we selected Peter we were confident of the project succeeding and could relax to the extent we left him our keys and went on 2 weeks' holidays. That way we missed the digging and excavation.
Throughout the project I’d discuss, ask questions and leave instruction behind when I was gone to work. Peter would ring later and discuss or we’d have a quick catch-up at the end of the day.
Peter's main team member was Patrick who did great work, together they made a great team. Everyday work started early, on-time, this does make a good impression.
Rubbish was also managed well. This was important for us plus driveway was clear for cars and outside the house was tidy and not a nuisance to neighbours.
What's your favourite part now?
There are many parts that we are delighted with. But the number one is the glazed facade with glass right up to the apex. This provides an unrestricted view of the sky and a wonderful feeling of openness. Even though our house rear is northbound plenty of soft light gets in with the benefit of no blinding sunshine.
Secondly, by updating the internal layout has greatly improved the space flexibility within the house. Previously separate rooms of 4m and 5m now can be opened up together along with the extension giving a much longer 13m open space ideal for those special family occasions.
The glazed double doors also allow more light from the front of the house into the centre plus the pitched extension roof also makes the space feel bigger than other roof types.
Thirdly, the rear of our house used to be the coldest part of the house. But now it’s so well insulated it’s much more comfortable. We coincidentally got a BER done following the install of the new boiler and achieved a “B” rating. This is great news as other houses in our area can be as low as E and F ratings. Not all of this was due to SBC as we insulated 60% of the house years ago ourselves and now took the opportunity to get Peter to insulate the remaining section along with the extension. Now fully insulated internally and a great rating!
Fourth, by completing the “insulated concrete base” for the garden room at the same time as the extension works meant services were in place for when we later added a “Shanette Shed: steel insulated games room” on top of this base.
Fifth, it’s only a small detail, we took the opportunity to run TV and IT cables through stud walls and under floor boards and to the garden room. Hiding these cables was easy for SBC to do at the time.
Would you recommend Swords Building Contractors to others?
Yes, completely. No doubt about it. It can be a stressful time with the house upside down for a number of weeks and it was a challenge but worth it in the end. At our own pace in the following months we added some finishing touches. Our house is so much better now, plus with the garden-room/ man-cave the children and big children enjoy it.
You hear stories of other jobs not being completed and various problems but we were delighted that we selected Peter and wish him every best in the future. I expected the job to be well done and it was. We made minor adjustments or additions during the project and Peter would quickly inform us of any cost difference and we’d proceed.
I’d recommend you to choose Peter and have recommended him to those considering getting works done.
Any tips for other people?
Plan your design first, include what’s important to you now and in the future. View work that neighbours did to their similar houses, plus you may get an idea from TV shows and other advertised jobs on pickapro.
Ask a few builders to meet, discuss and quote. Bear in mind the build cost is one thing and to finish the project can cost the same amount again, so budget accordingly.
Months before the job starts i.e. 6 months, if you intend on getting a loan apply to the bank early as the whole process can take much longer than expected i.e. with solicitors, banks, property valuations and even revenue property tax cert due to recent house price fluctuations etc. Plus borrow some extra so you have enough if you want to do additional works. You can always hand it back to the bank afterwards if you don’t need it.
Consider availing of a recommended architect that is familiar with this type of work. It’s worth it for those like us with little experience in such projects. GAP Architects gave us extra peace of mind and design clarity. This ensured good designs and correct planning and planning exemptions. Otherwise a costly mistake could be made. The builder then used these designs and measurements as part of the project, so it's clear. The architect can also inspect the build at important stages and escalate to you and the builder if something needs to be reviewed in a timely fashion. SBC complied with all design, specs and drawings anyway. I was happy to have the experience of GAP Architects providing support.
The architect can provide advice and suggestions. They may also recommend builders or know who you selected. They also bring material and structural advice, certify the planning status and assist with obtaining structural certs. You will most likely need these certs for the bank if you have a mortgage. So you really should get it done by someone involved in the project from the start thereby getting the benefit of their advice too from the start.
Apart from getting water supply and waste all working again. Consider where you’d like the main water supply and isolation points to be relocated in the new extension with easy access in future. Insist on them being moved to the standard easy access location of behind the new sink in a reachable location.
Allow extra budget for the unexpected.
We chose to finish off the works and decoration after the builder left, taking another 2 months.
If you are considering finishing the works yourself:
Be aware that floor levels between interconnecting rooms and connecting to the extension floor may be an issue. If considering laying continuous finished flooring through all rooms then you may need to get a carpenter to align wooden floors and hire a concrete floor grinder to adjust the level.