Developing your plot – granny flats and new-builds in the garden

7th June 2019
By Aisling Rusk (Director), as featured in the Irish News May 2019

As urban living gains in popularity, more and more people are finding ways to build or develop within their area. Many report a shortage of available properties suitable to grow old in, and find good sites hard to come by and expensive. But you could be surprised at what’s possible in the space right under your nose, with a bit of creative thinking applied.

The Granny Flat – intergenerational living is gaining in popularity again. This is the least onerous, cheapest way to obtain planning permission for more accommodation on your site, but there are restrictions. These annexes have to be connected to the main house, sharing facilities, and are not supposed to have separate kitchens. Our clients in Omagh are planning to accommodate their octogenarian parents in a new annex with blackened timber, concrete, glass and a mono-pitch roof to resemble sophisticated out-buildings. Connected by a glazed link to the main house through a shared store and utility room, this will facilitate a symbiotic care arrangement, where grandparents can babysit grandkids and grandparents can be supported yet independent as they age.

Convert out-buildings – sometimes existing out-buildings can be repurposed. We recently gained planning permission to transform and extend the beautiful former coach house of our North Belfast clients Victorian villa into a two-bedroom separate property, sharing the existing property.

New build – aesthetically these can be styled to reflect the original or surrounding houses, or can have an auxiliary, shed like appearance, with timber or metal cladding, corrugated sheets and concrete that is currently very fashionable. That is what we designed for clients in Ballyhackamore who are down-sizing from their large family and seeking a site nearby. We showed them how they could subdivide their garden and build a compact, low-energy, blackened timber house with separate access, soon to commence on-site.

Subdivide – spitting your house into two or more apartments/individual units, can also work well for the right property. It is however, worth noting that individual units must be compartmentalised for acoustics and fire safety, an HMO license may be required, and staircases may need to be replaced to meet the current building regulations, taking up significantly more space.

Access and car parking are key – both the new and existing properties will need to have sufficient car parking spaces, calculated based on the number of bedrooms. Whether you plan to use the same driveway or create a separate access, this will need to meet the current standards, with safe visibility splays in both directions. You can access the relevant guidance at or your architect can advise.

If you would like to explore any of the above ideas, why not arrange for an architect to visit your house and explore its potential with you? More information can be found at and

Downpatrick Feature!

7th May 2019
Our Downpatrick extension has been featured in Image Interiors and Living Magazine, in their May/June issue, available now for some dreamy browsing! An interview with our director Aisling is featured alongside some stunning shots from the very talented Emma Stewart Photography, showing off this shingle clad beauty in its best light. Read here for more info on this project.

Legatirriff House is for sale!

10th April 2019
This house has a contemporary extension, designed by our director, Aisling Rusk. The oak-framed extension was designed as a link between the old cottage and its garden, creating a sunroom for year-round use, and adding a new entrance and utility area.  Inspired by Scandinavian timber architecture and traditional Irish vernacular forms, age-old oak frame construction was used, in a vernacular form that compliments the oak cottage, yet is markedly contemporary with expansive glazing.  A roof of cedar shingles blends in with the adjacent thatch.  The wood-burning stove makes the room cosy even in winter, when the roaring fire reflects off the windows in every direction.  This is a room for contemplation, for enjoying Ireland’s ever-changing weather and shifting seasons, and for gatherings and celebrations big and small.  The utility room is hidden within a discreet wooden enclosure – large doors open to create an enclosed room, or close it away within a wooden box, allowing views through and around to Lough Neigh beyond.  The landscaping by Sweeney Landscape Design brings the wilderness of the great outdoors right into the space in playful and compelling ways. In spring and summer, a sea of wildflowers can be watched dancing away around the rock-shored pond.

See here for more information on our website about this project, or see the listing on PropertyPal and contact Fetherston Clements to view!

Ask an Architect

22nd March 2019
Studio idir is once again proud to be taking part in the Jill Todd Trust’s Ask An Architect Initiative, raising funds for the Friends of the Cancer Centre. For a minimum donation of £40, until the 26th May, you can book a one hour consultation with an architect of your choice, and have a chat about your dream project, while raising money for a fantastic cause. Click here to browse the architects in your area who are lending their time.


19th March 2019
Solid and Void. Black and White. Inside and Out. The space between.

Planning has been awarded by Belfast City Council in under six weeks for this south Belfast extension.

Clara Park

13th March 2019
Planning permission granted for an exciting new build at Clara Park, Belfast. Read more about it by clicking here.

Ask An Architect

22nd March 2018
Studio idir is proud to be taking part in the Jill Todd Trust’s Ask An Architect Initiative for the third year running, raising funds for the Friends of the Cancer Centre. Here is a link to a blog post Aisling wrote about what you can expect when you book a one hour session with an architect of your choice, for a minimum donation of £40, which goes to Friends of the Cancer Centre. Or click here  to browse the architects in your area who are lending their time.

Studio idir have just a couple of spaces left this year, so if you’d like to take this opportunity for a no-strings-attached consultation, don’t hang about!