Renovating an Investment Property in Ireland


The slow live-in renovation continues. It has been a busy few months for me, since my last post:

  • I have more renovation works done
  • I found a tenant
  • I now have a very clear and urgent timeline for the renovations
  • I sold some shares to help fund the renovations rather than borrow money from my parents (again)
  • I got some good news from my teaching job
  • I’ve been thinking about my career, running a company my FIRE goals. 

Garden Getting Messy but Growing
Renovating an Investment Property in Ireland

In my last post I said I threw some seed potatoes into the ground; these are now up but getting trampled by visiting dogs. The garden is also turning into a dumping ground as I “store” rubbish that will all be skipped once I have finished demolishing everything.  

The garden now also features a much needed washing line! I got the retractable model because I have used one before and found it to be reliable and easy to put away when you want to enjoy your garden without ducking under a clothes line as you move around. 

Potatoes growing at the edges and seedlings in pots
Installed retractable washing line

DIY Plumbing

I also mentioned in my last post that I was having a hard time finding a plumber. 

In the last few weeks, I helped a friend with a bathroom renovation job. She is on the verge of turning professional and was able to show my some basic plumbing concepts. It took a few visits to my local plumber suppliers and, after a lot of research/trial and error, I managed to:

  • Install the electric shower
  • Do the plumbing for the kitchen sink
  • Plumb under the stairs for a washing machine (inlet and waste)
  • Plumb an outdoor tap

Electric Shower

Installing the shower is actually a pretty straight forward job as long as you can isolate the water feed, turn off the electricity and follow the instructions exactly… (oh and have a 12 inch wrench and vice grips). This is temporary as the whole bathroom needs to be redone. 
Bye Bye Old Shower
Bye Bye Old Shower
Triton T90SR Pumped Electric Shower
New Triton T90SR Pumped Electric Shower

Outdoor Tap

Installing the outdoor tap was made MUCH easier because there was already a waste drilled through the wall for the old washing machine which happened to be in a good position. I will need to use expanding foam to fill the gap that the pipe runs through.

I picked up the tap and mounting plate for €11 and went to a plumber suppliers to buy the elbows, half-inch qual-PEX pipe, copper inserts and joining compound. I have left over pipe but I will be able to use that to connect the dishwasher.  

The line for the tap is teeing off the mains water so the pressure is very good. Certainly enough to run a hose. 

Install an outdoor tap
Installed a new outdoor tap

Washing Machine

I’m creating a small utility area under the stairs as the kitchen is way too small to house a washing machine and dryer. First step was to install a P-Trap which runs into the bathroom behind the wall and connects to the sink waste there. 

You can see that there were plenty of pipes in this location and I ended up swapping out a rather useless valve so I could tee off the cold water line from the tank. 

I was a little concerned about the water pressure so I checked the manual for my washing machine which operates between 0.1 and1 bar of pressure. I then looked up that every metre of height your tank is above the ground adds 0.1 bar of pressure to your system. So I was golden. I tested the setup and everything works perfectly with no leaks. I will be tiling this small area to mitigate any risk of future leaks though.

P-trap for washing machine waste
Swapped valve for a tee with an isolator (3/4 to 1/2 inch)
Testing washing machine in place with ECO FRIENDLY liquid and wooden pegs! You can see I have a tile on the floor there for a future job.

Stairs, Floor and Storage Area

Old Stair Step Support
New non-creaking stair step

I rebuilt the very last step of the stairs to remove the creaking and also reduce its size. it was bigger than it needed to be. The stairs will be carpeted. 

I also knocked through the small room that was under the stairs in favour of turning it into a small stacked utility area. As I mentioned, I have the washing machine plumbed in at this stage so the next steps are:

  • add in an isolation switch and double socket (easy to spur off the junction box that the  electrician put in already. )
  • build a pretty chunky support and shelf to hold the dryer securely over the washing machine
  • enclose the space in a thick door to minimise the sound. 
  • insulate the stud wall for sound
  • build a door to cover it all over

I extended the stud wall on the left out in order to give extra space at the back for the p-trap (washing machine waste) but also for enough air around the dryer. Your dryer runs more efficiently in a cold area of your house and this spot is one of the coolest as it backs onto the bathroom. 

Crappy old plastic tiles under the stairs
Removed tiles
Knocked through the small understairs room

Kitchen is Tiled!

Removed all the horrible plastic tiles with heat gun and crowbar
Used a primer to seal the floor that was still covered in the glue from the plastic tiles
Tiling begins under the watchful eye of doggo foreman
Tiling complete. Now living without a kitchen sink!

In return for helping my friend on her bathroom renovation job, she helped me with the kitchen tiling. I sourced the tiles in Gorey so I was able to pick them up myself and save on delivery costs. 

Before any work could happen, I had to remove all of the ancient plastic floor tiles that were glued down to the concrete. The glue was a nightmare and a lot of it stayed on the floor. I got into a flow with a heat gun and a crowbar and got them up. After that I sealed the floor with a special primer that inhibited any glue still on the floor. 

I did make one big mistake with the tiling. I should have used a floor leveling compound before we started. We realised the poor level of the floor when we started laying out the tiles on the ground but we were stuck for time so had to proceed. We mitigated the drop of the floor by using more tile adhesive which is a much more expensive way to do things. 

A bag of floor leveler would have been €25 and we would have had a nice flat surface to work on once it dried.  I probably ended up using 2 bags worth of extra adhesive which cost €44. 

Lesson learned, but I am really keen to try a levelling compound as I have never used it before.

(Most of the) Kitchen was Delivered

IKEA Kitchen Delivered (mostly)

Now that the flooring, plumbing and electrics are more of less sorted in the kitchen, I can start the task of assembling and installing the IKEA kitchen I bought. Unfortunately, due the pandemic and global shortages of everything, some items are out of stock. Mostly just drawer fronts so I can live with not having them until September. 

I will have one annoying issue with the kitchen though, the window is too low. The house is an ex-council build from the 80’s and the windows are weird. All of them start in the corners of the rooms (except the bathroom) and they are relatively low. So my counter top is probably going to come up over the window frame. 

I’ve resigned to live with it, well… I won’t have to live with it. My mate reminded me of a popular expression from his days working on a building site – “Sure I won’t be able to see it from my house.”

Not exactly the professional standards I am aspiring to but short of installing a new window, there’s not much more I can do that make it look as reasonable as possible by tiling up to the counter just shy of the top of the window frame.


Attic is Insulated and Floored

Gap to neighbour's attic. You can also still see the staining from the hole in the roof which is now reparied!

I decided that I can do one more attic insulation job in my life. I have the energy and will power to do just ONE MORE and then I will just pay someone. This is a stinker of a job. If it wasn’t for the investment in a really good respirator with two filters I would have choked to death long before I got it done. 

I had to address one issue in the attic that was highlighted in the engineer’s report when I bought the house. There was a “fire risk” where the was a gap between my attic and the neighbour’s right at the roof. He recommended just sealing these up with a bit of concrete. 

Suffice to say I now have 30mm of insulation with 18mm OSB floor floating on top. 

Still outstanding in the attic is:

  • the shelving units for the wall (I have already built the supporting brackets from spare 2x3s)
  • Insulating the hatch.
  • Adding an access ladder 
Planning the layout of raised floor over existing joists
Adding new layers of insulation
Building supports, insulating between them up to 30 mm and adding OSB flooring on top
Finished floor
Finished floor

How am I paying for all of this?

I am still maintaining my minimum savings of €500 per month. Most of my costs are materials as I am doing a lot of the work myself. That said, I was BROKE this month. I already borrowed money from my parents to pay for the new boiler back in winter. I have been paying back €300 per month, but I still owe them €2,800.

So I sold some of my Vanguard Shares on Degiro; about €2,500 worth. This is enough to cover the immediate costs of renovations for the coming month. This might generate a small tax liability for me next year as the ETF value had grown. The particular one I sold was Vanguard S&P 500 UCITS ETF USD.

My thinking on this is that the money will be going directly into an asset that will generate a return. Also, the deemed disposal of ETFs is a killer anyway and thanks to the FIRE PODCAST ABOUT INVESTMENT TRUSTS, I am now learning about a potentially better option where no deemed disposal applies. 

I Found a Tenant! But Now I Need to Work Very Fast.

I have had a few visitors since lockdown restrictions eased and many have been very jealous of the stunning location of the house – south Wicklow is breathtaking at times and the village I live in here is especially handsome. 

My brother and his partner have been considering moving their family to Wicklow for some time. As it happens, they have to move out of the place they are renting in Dublin, so they are going to “try before they buy” by renting my house for a time. Then they will be in a position to decide where and when (in this market) they will buy their own place. 

This puts a serious time pressure on me because they want to be in and settled before schools starts for the kids. I have six or so weeks to get the key works completed to make the house livable for a family. It is a very ambitious timeline especially as I am working my normal job while renovating but the house doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be good enough to be comfortable for them and then I can polish things up after they move.

Good News from Work

The good news I got from my teaching job is about my hours. My employer is going to redistribute my hours into one semester rather than over two. This means I will be physically working in Dublin from mid-September to mid-January – then I am done!

This is amazing for me because it opens an option for my growing desire for a career change. Since starting my own company, I have been enjoying working for myself and learning much more about front-end web development. I am still contracting to my second job (Graphic design/typesetting) but I find myself bored by the work as there is no challenge in it for me any more.

There are lots of opportunities for 6-month contracting positions in the web development world that would offer me the chance to learn new things and while still remaining self-employed. Plus I could look at working overseas. 

But what about the R.E. part of F.I.?!


I find myself thinking about just how much I am working lately. Between the job, being self-employed and DIY house renovations I have had little time to relax. For someone who espouses the values of FIRE and aspires to work less – I am doing the opposite. 

In the last two months I have been home in Dublin once, for two days. Otherwise I have been living in my investment property (aka building site), working during the day for my job and doing renovations in the evenings and weekends.

I’m reflecting on my excitement about perusing a career in web development. I have to pinch myself every now and again and remind myself that working this much is not my goal. It’s the opposite of the goal!

Well, the fact is – I am not interested in early retirement right now. I like to be busy and productive but I also like to do that on my terms while also feeling financially secure. I am working a lot right now but it is in service of the goal. When this house is renovated it becomes an income stream with capital appreciation. That is getting me another step closer to F.I. and the freedom and independence it will bring.


Post Date

Give it a try...

Get started on your own path to financial independence by investing in this Peer-to-Peer platform – yes this is an affiliate link and I get a bonus if you sign up through here. If you would rather not do that just search google for “Mintos” and go there directly.
Subscribe for Updates

You will get one email a month with a summary of posts from that month so you can keep up-to-date with my progress and failures. Grand job!