The Complete Guide to Home Design, Renovation and Extensions in Ireland

Written by Fiona McPhillips, With Colm Doyle and Lisa McVeigh and John Flood
Make the Home you Love The O’Brien Press Ltd. websiteMake the Home you Love website

Our building project Thatched Cottage Renovation is featured as a case study in Chapter 7 Construction on pages 144 to 148.

In 2013, Patti bought a 250-year-old thatched cottage with an extension that was added around 1880. She dated the building using ordnance survey maps and a draft promissory note from 1853, found inside a wall. Patti wanted to use the proper conservation techniques to return the cottage to its original state and, in doing so, create a cosy and comfortable home.

‘The floor level had been raised so many times, most likely because of a rising water table causing damp, that you couldn’t walk through the doorways of the house without bending over. The walls were also covered in layers of render and concrete – all of that had to go.’

In total, over 60 tonnes of cement and concrete were removed from the walls, floor and exterior paths. ‘I did a pretty hardcore job in that I got rid of all the cement,’ says Patti. ‘I took all the cement off the floors and I took three inches of render off the walls inside, revealing windows throughout the house.’
Outside, Patti replaced the concrete lintels with stone. Inside, she put a leca and lime mix on the floors for breathable, vapour-permeable insulation so that any dampness in the ground could dissipate naturally. ‘On top of that, I put in a limecrete floor slab and in that layer, I have underfloor heating. Then I put in flint to grind it down as otherwise it doesn’t harden.’

Patti also dug trenches around the house to act as an external rainwater drain. ‘That had never been done before because they didn’t have the machines back then – everything was done by hand.’ Inside the house, Patti left some of the walls bare and, with others, she experimented with colour pigments in whitewash. ‘It gives you a sense of a hue of the colour so when light falls on it, it’s very calming.’ The experience has taught Patti to use healthy, breathable materials in all her work, whether she is renovating a traditional building or designing a modern one.

Patti’s favourite spots change, depending on the time of day. ‘I love sitting on my sofa with the fire on being able to look out the glass door, but my favourite spot right now is sitting outside in the sun.’

Make The Home You Love p144-148 
View Thatched Cottage Restoration, Tipperary