A cautionary tale of buying property in Ireland

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Sometimes in this job you’re involved in a cracking tale. And this is such. I’ve got clearance from the person concerned for it’s go-ahead – names, counties and auctioneers omitted!

• I’m approached via email enquiring on my interest on providing architectural services on the construction of a replacement dwelling where the existing house was to be demolished and a new house to the Passivhaus standard to be constructed.

• An offer on the purchase of the existing house had been accepted.

• Before I met with the client or property or even before providing a quotation as a matter of course and due-diligence I did a bit of research

• The house was Victorian and needed extensive renovation/refurbishment; other structures in vicinity of same age were protected structures (Listed Buildings in the UK). Initially I couldn’t find the building in question on the Protected Structures list.

• Something didn’t ring true and I dug deeper correlating Maps with Protected Structure Lists and YES. It was there. The property was indeed a Protected Structure. This is a big game changer concerning what you can do to the property. ps What threw me was that the property had a BER certificate even though Protected Structures are exempt from requiring them.

• I informed the potential client and the auctioneer had in fact failed to advertise that the property was indeed a Protected Structure. The client has withdrawn offer and is contemplating the next stage.

Conclusions:

• Hire a professional. It took me, as a registered architect, accredited in conservation AND a Certified Passivhaus Designer a little bit of research to ascertain the facts to ensure the client doesn’t waste hundreds of thousands in a misleading property purchase.

• If someone does this type of research for you, without charge – thank them (bottle of alcohol arrived forthwith from the gent of a client)

• Be careful buying property in Ireland or you could end up with a ‘pig in a poke’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_in_a_poke)

• The tale has not yet ended – watch this space.

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