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Is it time to downsize your house?

The Pros and Cons of downsizing your home




What is Downsizing?

Whether you’re an empty nester, facing retirement or just tired of a lot of unnecessary upkeep and hassle, moving to a smaller home is a great option for homeowners. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for a change. Even better if you struggling to keep up with the costs related to running a large home.

“So should I downsize?”

Recent data has shown that Ireland has one of the highest rates of under-occupied homes in Europe. This means that downsizing is a viable option for a number of Irish homeowners. Maybe you are eager for a change? Maybe you simply want to start a new phase in your life? In this case, downsizing can be a great opportunity to reduce or eliminate debt or obtain the home you’ve always dreamed of.

Of course, it all depends on personal circumstances, but it is always wise to act sooner rather than later if you are thinking about downsizing.

The Pros and Cons of downsizing

The Pros of downsizing

There are so many positive reasons to downsize.

The most obvious being releasing the equity (reducing/eliminating the mortgage) in your home. This means money is freed up to fund your later years. With inflation costs expected to remain high next year, downsizing will also help to ease some of the financial burden, especially around energy costs.

Another clear benefit of downsizing is being able to move closer to family or friends or perhaps closer to amenities. A smaller, more manageable house with less maintenance and clutter is also of enormous benefit. 

Think of how your life can be simplified when you’re spending less time trying to find things! Not to mention the smaller bills, conserving energy and the extra time to pursue more important and enjoyable activities.

“In a nutshell, downsizing is a great chance to improve your quality of life.”


The Cons of downsizing

Downsizing your home does not come without risks. The desire to move closer to friends and families can be hamstrung, simply by a lack of available properties in the area. You may want to remain in the same location. Yet changes in the property market might make it difficult to obtain a smaller house within the same location. 

The prospect of moving house or downsizing can seem so daunting. There are so many things to think of – from the initial decision to go to an estate agent through to the final selection of fixtures and finishes. The whole process can feel like a mountain to climb. However, downsizing shouldn’t be stressful if handled correctly. Instead of being a demanding task, with the right help, downsizing and renovating can be an enjoyable, exciting, and invigorating project.

At RENOVA we specialise in being a design and build company with a focus on the Deep Retrofit of older houses. A Deep Retrofit involves stripping back to the essentials and re-building a highly insulated, air-tight, well-ventilated, and energy-efficient home. Therefore, if you are thinking about downsizing, don’t disregard the ‘doer-uppers’. Indeed, by considering houses that need renovation, you will be opening up more possibilities and opportunities to find the perfect house in a great location. Doer-uppers can be adapted to your needs and made into the home you’ve always dreamed of

What to consider before Downsizing?

Here are the 5 essential points you need to consider when approaching downsizing

1. Consider your reasons for downsizing? Is it necessary, are you happy about it, or is there another solution?

Have you thought through your reasons why? Are you looking to sell your larger house for increased equity? Is the smaller house in the area affordable? Will you be able to stay in the area you want to live in? Are you worried about your increasing household costs?  Really think about the factors, pros and cons before deciding whether to downsize or not.

2. Look for a reliable company that will help oversee the whole project

Downsizing especially to an older property comes with its own set of challenges. With a focus on carbon emissions and the environment, it is essential that all new homes are up to a certain standard. Unfortunately, it means a lot of older houses are not energy efficient. This could lead to a serious downgrade in quality when moving into an older smaller home. To give a house a modern update takes time and effort and, in many cases, requires a deep retrofit. Because none of these works should be done piecemeal, its best to find a trustworthy construction company to oversee the whole project.

Thats exactly what we do.

RENOVA acts has one point of contact to oversee everything during the renovation of your home covering everything from planning your budget to your legal requirements.

3. See what grants and tax incentives are available to you to undertake any works

The SEAI currently offers a number of grants for homeowners in a drive to get more energy efficient retrofit work completed. Deep Retrofits can be quite costly. Understanding what grants, you can avail of will give you an insight into whether downsizing and renovating a new home is the option for you

4. Get a full understanding of the renovation needs of the new house you are downsizing to

Older houses can be brought up to passive house standards through a Deep Retrofit. This helps lower the energy bills resulting in a warmer healthier home.

5. How sustainable is your new home going to be?

Everyone is certainly more climate conscious, and each industry is doing their bit to lower carbon emissions. This means it’s important to look at the environmental impact of your new home. Some dream houses might no longer be suitable based on our current energy saving requirements. This means the cost of bringing them up to standard might be well outside your original budget.

Downsizing can be daunting for some who aren’t looking forward to change, but there are so many advantages and opportunities. Saving on bills, more manageable household tasks and new décor and opportunities of a new area, means downsizing can be incredibly exciting. And if you buy a cheaper property than the one you sold, that extra money can go a long way to helping you enjoy life in your new home!

So, why not embark upon a new challenge? Undertake a different project, not just a purchase, and get involved in the whole design and build process. Unleash your inner creative designer, invigorate yourself and enjoy watching your renovation project come together.

Why not go to your homepage and look at our 6 stages for inbuilt success.

The fundamentals of retrofit

According to a recent article by John Cradden on Independent.ie, The Tricky Economics of Greening your Home‘, it is essential to prioritise insulation and ventilation as opposed to more ‘trendy’ technologies when carrying out energy-saving retrofit on your home….

This view is also shared by RENOVA, home-energy experts, who always place importance upon the fundamentals of insulation and ventilation when carrying out a Deep Retrofit. It is very important to re-iterate this to home owners. Basically speaking, if a home is not well insulated and well-ventilated first, then installing modern technologies such as heat pumps and solar panels will make very little difference to your energy bills. So if you want to retrofit and improve your home’s overall energy-efficiency and BER, focus on upgrading the basic structure of the building first. Don’t be swayed by so-called ‘eco-bling’ and trendy new technologies.

According to architectural technologist and energy consultant Archie O’Donnell “Over the years, there have been a lot of low-energy new builds and retrofits, but we generally find that when consumers go to home-improvement shows, when they read the glossy magazines and start to research the whole area of low-energy, they are immediately drawn to the technology. You have to think of retrofit like a stool with three legs . We’re very good in this country at addressing one leg, which is reducing energy in new builds and in a retrofit. What we’re quite bad at is the other two legs, which are moisture and ventilation.”

At RENOVA we agree with O’Donnell’s views on retrofit and appreciate the importance of ‘building tight and ventilating right’. We highly recommend the inclusion of these fundamentals before contemplating the installation of renewable technologies such as solar thermal panels for water heating, biomass boilers, heat pumps etc. These are also beneficial, but should not be considered before other retrofit measures – namely, insulation and ventilation.




Interestingly, a theme of enquiry from home owners has been recurring at RENOVA over recent years. The common problem is ‘condensation’ and in many cases black mould growth on walls and ceilings. This is caused by high levels of humidity. It thrives on two ingredients, high temperatures and a supply of water vapour. As a general rule of thumb, humidity levels will double with every 10 degree increase in temperature. In other words, the warmer your house is, the more water vapour the air will hold. As your house becomes more air-tight and warmer, stale humid air can become trapped inside. Think of all that moisture from showers, baths, kettles, bubbling pots and pans, steamers, tumble driers and even our own breath! Fitting new windows and having a more air-tight, well-insulated home, without proper ventilation therefore, has become the main cause of poor air quality and ‘sick building syndrome’.

Ventilation- fundamentals of retrofit

A RENOVA retrofit will not only be air-tight and well-sealed; most importantly, it will be well-ventilated. ‘Air-tightness’ and ‘ventilation’ must go hand-in-hand to prevent an unhealthy living environment. Good ventilation requires maintaining a constant flow of air within a house – fresh air in and stale air out. Good ventilation will remove the humid air before it has a chance to condense on relatively cold surfaces. If left untreated, damp can lead to a host of problems. Problems such as corrosion of internal finishes and even health problems. This is dangerous especially in vulnerable young children, elderly people and individuals with respiratory problems such as asthma.

Whilst passive/natural ventilation (holes in the external walls) may meet building regulations, we recommend that controlled/mechanical ventilation is used to maintain a consistent flow of fresh air within the home. There are many sophisticated systems available such as ‘Heat Recovery Ventilation’. However, this can be expensive and difficult to install, especially in a retrofit situation. A cost-effective and practical alternative is an ‘Aereco Demand Controlled Ventilation’ system. Click here to see an Aereco video.

DCV or ‘Demand Controlled Ventilation’ is based on a simple principle. Have the optimum amount of fresh air in a home on a fully automated basis. It offers the ideal solution concerning both heating consumption and the indoor air quality. When the need for ventilation is low, which is usually more than half of the time, savings can be made. More ventilation is needed during times such as showering and cooking. When more moisture and humidity is created. Scientific studies have illustrated that DCV can result in 30% reduction in ventilation losses compared to natural ventilation.

A point made by architect Bill Scott of Scott and MacNeil Architects, is that undertaking a number of different retrofit measures does not result in a ‘multiplier effect’. Tom Halpin, SEAI’s head of information says that installing three typical energy-saving measures in your home that each results in a 20-25% in cost savings individually, should still result in reducing the average heating bill by about half.

So, if you are considering a retrofit of your home, remember to make insulation and ventilation a priority. If you are renovating your home, please remember to retrofit it too. Any renovation without a retrofit is a lost opportunity to create a warm, comfortable, energy-efficient and healthy home.

For a free, no obligation consultation contact RENOVA today

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie