Cheap Irish Homes is a brand new six-part series that follows host Maggie Molloy as she attempts to shine a light on the secret side of the Irish property market.

Maggie helps house hunters find properties all over Ireland -  most of them under €100,000 if not cheaper and, in tonight's episode, she tries to find a home for Dublin based Leanne in the Mayo/Sligo region. At every location, Maggie is joined by engineer Kieran McCarthy who will give advice on the condition of the houses.

Ahead of tonight's show, we caught up with Maggie to discuss the Irish housing market and her own dream home.

Why do you think the Irish are so interested in property and interior design?
I think, for a lot of us, owning property is still a bit of a dream and, as with any dream, we love nothing more than to get lost in them and wander off thinking about how everything will be in this ideal world we've created for ourselves.

So you buy a property magazine and tell yourself that cottage with the roses out the front will be yours one day, even if its a more modest version than the one splashed on the pages in front of you, or you turn on a property show to reassure yourself that you’re not the only one struggling to find a perfect fit.

Then, when you’re lucky enough to find a home you can afford, you’re almost guaranteed it's not going to be perfectly matched to your tastes on the interiors front, so the dreaming begins again. 

I think especially for those of us at the bottom half of the market, it can be the only thing that keeps the dream alive at times.

Do 'cheap Irish homes' really exist in today's market?
They do! Outside of Leinster and the commuter zones of large cities and towns, you can find them quite easily. The majority of them are in rural Ireland, so if you haven’t gotten your head around living in the countryside it will be tricky to find one. But for those of us willing to make that move, there is a great amount of affordable housing stock out there and it's always being replenished.

In The Great House Revival, Hugh Wallace oversees grand Irish castles being transformed - is this show on a slightly more relatable budget?
My show caters to a different budget, sure! So, in that way, I’m hoping it will be more immediately relatable for viewers. But that love and respect for old buildings is something that spans any budget.

I would get just as anxious driving past a crumbling mansion as I would a broken-down cottage - and Hugh is probably the same. These buildings have a beauty and a history that needs to be saved for future generations and if you love them, you love them all! Regardless of their price tag.

Castles even make their way onto my Instagram feed from time to time, once they’re under €100k of course!

What are the pros and cons of working with older buildings as opposed to splashing out on a new build?
The main pro I find with older buildings is that the house is already built. Its a simple concept, but you’d be surprised how much this fact slips past people. Sure it might need a new roof, new wiring, new windows, etc. But you don't have to physically build the house.

A lot of people get in touch saying it would be cheaper to simply knock these houses and build something new in its place. But in the majority of cases, this simply isn’t true. Clearing a house from a site is a huge expense and then all you have is a site. When you could simply renovate the existing cottage & not only have you preserved a part of our history for future generations but you’ve saved yourself some money too.

What makes a good (but cheap) Irish home - what are your top tips for prospective buyers?
When it comes to a cheap house, the best kind you can get is the one you can move into soon. For that, you need some form of services installed.

Electricity, for example, is a huge bonus, even an older connection can save you a lot of money. Sure, you might need to get it rewired internally before using it, but having the poles in place and an existing connection coming to the house can save you a bundle.

A water source on the land and some form of waste treatment are also big money savers. So lookout for a well or mains supply when it comes to water & a septic tank or mains sewerage when it comes to waste treatment.

Having these services in place, even though they need to be inspected prior to use, can save a new owner a huge amount of time & can get them into the house quicker. Which has to be the main priority right.

This show is all about dream homes, what would your dream home look like?
If I could pick up the house I have now and put it beside the sea, I would be in heaven.

Watch Cheap Irish Homes tonight on RTÉ One at 8:30pm.