Programme 3: Killiney
Tommy and Ann Breen have lived in the same house in Killiney, South County Dublin, for the last 38 years. They raised six children in their small 3-bed semi-detached home. The children have all grown up and moved on but most of them still live locally, a reassuring fact, given that following Tommy's early retirement he was diagnosed with MS only two years ago. At the moment Tommy sleeps upstairs and uses a chair lift but this has to change.
Dermot "The house is becoming a living nightmare for Tommy, it's unreal that a house that they've raised six children in and was probably bedlam in it's time is now unsuitable for just two people but that's what's happened."
Dermot needs to create "a bungalow downstairs" incorporating a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living and dining room. The space has to be big enough to facilitate large family gatherings as most weekends their children and grandchildren converge for dinners and Sunday lunches. Tommy and Ann's budget is ¤70,000.
Dermot's design is radically different to what Tommy and Ann are expecting. But this couple are used to adapting to the unexpected.
Tommy "I'm flabbergasted, I cannot believe that the house we've lived in for so long is going to be like that, I know it's going to make such a difference to both of us and I'm really chuffed about it".
The build starts in March. It's the first time Dermot is working with builder Robert McNally of Coynestone who has just seven weeks to complete the job. Any slight misgivings Dermot might have are quickly dispelled on the first day as an army of builders pull the house apart in record time. "It looks good, we'll finish on time, we might even finish a bit before time" says Dermot.
By the end of the second week the walls are built, the steel is in, the new floor down, the roof on. During his site visit Dermot is starting to feel the pressure. "This job is motoring along so quick I'm starting to forget what I'm even doing on it now. I think things need to be considered and I'm not really comfortable designing on the huff".
The stress takes its toll on Tommy too who mid-way through the build lands back in hospital for a brief spell. In between visiting Tommy, Ann has a lot of decisions to make on the finishes for their newly improved home. When it comes to picking the kitchen Ann and Dermot clash. The kitchen Dermot likes Ann doesn't "I hate it, I absolutely hate it, it looks like an office". Lucky for Dermot Ann's daughters Lisa and Marie are on hand to smooth a path towards another choice, one that Dermot likes and Ann is convinced to go with...
Tommy is allowed out of hospital one afternoon and is straight down to the house to see the changes. Even though it's not finished Tommy can see it's potential "It will be like moving into a new house again, it's what we wanted. To me this is like winning the lotto."
High praise indeed for Dermot particularly given Tommy's attachment to his home. The house was built by a co-operative which Tommy himself chaired. Such was the difficulty with securing a home when Tommy and Ann got married that Tommy persuaded Dun Laoghaire corporation to give them a site for 14 houses and employed a builder directly.
Enjoy watching this tenacious couple on Room to Improve this Wednesday 17th June at 8.30pm on RTÉ One.
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