Design Clinics for Internal Adjustments

In the second part of the Design Clinic case studies series we are showing an example that describes how changing the internal arrangement of the house can have a dramatic effect. Whilst originally the clients expected that only an extension could resolve the poor use of their space, the outcome of the Design Clinic provided a solution which addressed all their functional requirements and opened the spaces up to more sunlight and views. And of course these solutions are more cost effective than having to build an extension.

“How can we make the house work for us? Should we downsize? We all have blind spots yet we had a notion of what we wanted. When you embark on a building project it evolves, you allow time for it to digest and then change. Our two Design Clinics with Patti illuminated the blind spots and in the new layout we use all the spaces.
We have great satisfaction of how Patti maximises the use of the sun from early in the morning till late in the evening, which saves on our fuel bills and is good for the environment. Mostly, however, there is a sense of well being from living in a house where the sun is going through all day. We would never had envisioned the home that we have without Patti’s professional advice. Overall we found the service superb.” Peter & Dorothy


Design Clinics for Extensions

For the New Year we are launching a series of case studies showing various outcomes from our now optimised Design Clinic service. The idea of the consultation service started in the depths of the recession times to ensure that everyone get a chance at the quality of life good design can bring. The very first one taking place in Ballywilliam, County Tipperary at the end of 2011. Since then the interest in the design service has grown rapidly and nationwide allowing the homeowner to keep ownership of their building project whilst still getting a good design layout.

In the example below we are showing a lovely extension project which had two Design Clinics with us and was then successfully realized by Maeve & Darragh and their builder to achieve a comfortable bright and spacious family room and kitchen.

“Initially we thought a Design Clinic consultation seemed like a lot of time but we were so surprised the time flew by as Patti turned what we thought was a very straightforward extension plan in to a much more interesting design. She had loads of different ideas and really made the extension flow from the existing house. We had two design clinic sessions with Patti and the builder worked from her drawings. We are delighted with the outcome and would certainly not have the beautiful bright and spacious family room/kitchen we enjoy today were it not for Patti’s ideas, design and attention to detail. We have already recommended Patti to family members and friends.” Maeve & Darragh


Grant of Planning Permission

We are delighted to announce the successful planning application for the extension to the front of this cottage at Kilfeakle, Co. Tipperary. It was another smooth, clean and quick planning approval with good preparation we avoided any setbacks during the statutory process.

The extension will give the property a nice balanced feel of old and new world. We are currently designing the timber frame structure which is a particularly interesting challenge as the roof is sloped & cantilevered in a diagonal orientation lifting towards the view of the Galtee mountains.

IMG_8197reduced B&W




The Sunday Independent – Advice Clinic

Click here to view link to The Sunday Independent article

Architect's Clinic Patti O'Neill


Heat seekers: How do we insulate an old cottage?

PUBLISHED 21/02/2016 | 02:30

Q: WE live in an old stone-built house (1890s) and are currently planning a new extension to it. Keeping the existing house warm in the winter is becoming increasingly difficult. What options are available to us in terms of insulating our home? And what materials should we consider for the new extension?

A: When thinking of your home, consider it your second skin. Your skin is breathable and carries out several functions so why shouldn’t your floors, walls and roof be doing the same for you? In dwellings this can be translated into the right choice of materials. On our island, moisture is one of the biggest features of our climate so let’s embrace it instead of fighting it. Old buildings are great teachers for learning about naturally breathable and moisture-regulating materials.

In the case of your stone house, it is important to remove any cement concrete on the floors and walls to allow moisture to pass through freely. Cement, gypsum boards, plastic membranes and polyurethane insulations have no place here. Lime, clay, wood, sheep wool are some of the materials that regulate room humidity levels, absorbing and releasing moisture readily. Sheep wool is not only a great insulator it is also hygroscopic and able to purify the air in a room, for example, removing many odours and harmful substances such as formaldehyde. Many of these products carry out multiple functions to create healthy living environments, whilst also being ecologically sustainable products that don’t leave mountains of waste for the next generations.

You can also use the same approach – treating your house as a living, breathing structure – in the new extension to your home by using similar natural materials which have been processed and improved by modern technologies. An example for a masonry wall is the monolithic clay Poroton block with a special honeycomb structure, which has breathability and thermal mass attributes. It eliminates the need for the onerous cavity, ties and fixing of polyurethane insulations as used in the ubiquitous cement concrete block walls.

If your new extension is going to be a timber-frame construction, wood-fibre tongue and grooved boards in combination with 100pc sheep wool insulation allows for vapour-permeable walls without plastic membranes. A product made from the glass recycling industry ‘foam glass gravel’ has been used successfully under buildings for insulation with additional structural functions, again simplifying the construction and eliminating the need for polymer products. Many of the suppliers of these natural products also have retro-fit solutions.

It is important to remember that value for money lies not in the cheapest product out there but in the product that performs numerous functions and benefits you most by creating a long-lasting healthy living environment. We don’t know what a lot of these synthetic materials will do in the long run and what toxins they emit over time, so why not be safe and keep it natural?

A registered architect can advise you on the best insulation products and technologies for your home, check on for a registered architect near you.

Patti O’Neill – Dipl-Ing Architect, MRIAI, Conservation Accreditation Grade III – can be contacted on

Grant of Planning Permission

We are delighted to announce the successful planning application for the protected structure of Ballyhogan House for its refurbishment and extension giving a new life and a new face to the building.

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Patti’s Cottage as seen on RTE1 ‘Home of the Year 2015’


View Excerpts of the Program

About the Architect

Judge’s comments


Shinawil film crew patiently working all day 


for 7 minutes of tv screening!



before the works began


during works


view of fire-place before the works with all the cement!


 view of kitchen before the works


For more information please view: ‘Cottage Restoration’