Here in Irish Country Living, we have been following the progress of the Vacant Property Renovation Grant but it’s worth starting off with a few reminders.

If you’re refurbishing a vacant property, with the intention of using it as your primary home or rental property, grant aid to a maximum of €50,000 is available. Where the property is derelict, a further top-up of €20,000 is available (up to €70,000 in total). For qualifying vacant and derelict houses on the islands, the maximum grant is €60,000 and €84,000 respectively.

Whether you want to spend that money on bricks and mortar or a fancy bathtub is up to you but there are some rules you need to abide by. When you’re doing your sums to calculate the ceiling of spending, it’s worth bearing in mind that the maximum spending rules include VAT.

1. Demolitions / Strip-out / Site Clearance

Let’s start with the dirty work. All costs associated with clearing the site including any mechanical clearing or digging can be drawn down as part of the grant. Nobody wants to see the word ‘asbestos’ in the middle of a build but if it is found, its removal is also covered. While parts of the structure can be demolished, its important to note that they must be part of a wider refurbishment of the existing dwelling in keeping with the objectives of the scheme. So make sure to ignore any temptation to completely demolish the structure; it is not permitted.

2. Substructure works

Time to build up that house. Everything from the foundations to the rising walls, installing slab foundations, damp proofing and underpinning can all be drawn down as part of your grant application, and the full grant can be spent here, if you wish.

With the exception of underpinning, most of this work would largely be concerned with the addition of an extension to a property. Underpinning is the supporting or strengthening of the foundation of an existing house.

3. Superstructure works

This includes works that are required on both the internal and external walls, chimneys, upper floors, stairs, the roof structure or any other structural timbers. There can be a lot in this so again, the maximum grant can be drawn down to cover these areas.

4. Completions

If a house is structurally sound and doesn’t require significant masonry work, than this section is likely to be one of the most availed of elements of the VPRG. This is most likely to apply to houses that were constructed between the 1980s and 2007.

All works associated with external doors and windows, internal doors and associated frames, architraves and ironmongery, balustrades, skirtings, rooflights, rainwater goods and fascia and soffits apply here.

This section is divided into five separate categories and there are spending limitations. The first concerns external completions such as doors, windows and sills, in which up to €21,000 is available.

The next category encompasses internal completions like doors, frames, architraves and ironmongery. There is a maximum of €7,000 obtainable for these.

With up to €3,500 available for skirting boards, it’s up to yourself when it comes to design choices about what to put where the floor meets the wall.

Moving back to external completions, there is a limit of €4,200 placed on rainwater goods, fascias and soffits. The final category concerns roof completions and has an upper range of €14,000. This is to cover costs for flashings, gutters and downpipes.

5. Finishes

For many, the finishes are as important as the foundations. This section applies to external and internal walls, ceiling finishes, roof finishes and tiling or waterproof finishes to wet areas. Again, finishes are split into a number of categories.

For tiling and waterproof finishes to wet areas, up to €2,800 can be drawn down. There is a limit of €10,500 placed on costs for painting and decorating while there is a maximum of €14,000 for roof finishes.

6. Services

Plumbing, heating, ventilation, power, lighting, telecommunications and smoke/CO2 detection can eat up a budget fairly rapidly so the maximum grant applies here. Again, this is an area where costs could vary depending on the age or state of the structure. Houses that qualify for the VPRG range from those built before 2007 where these services were commonplace right back to a derelict house that may have never had electricity. The older the building, the higher the budget this is likely to soak up.

7. Fittings

There are various rates applicable to internal fittings such as those for kitchens and bathrooms. Again, how modern the house is will determine what you’ve left to spend but there is an opportunity to go a bit fancier with your those kitchen counters, if the budget allows. In the case of kitchen units, up to €7,700 is available while €2,800 can be claimed for bathroom fittings.

8. External Works

Up to €7,000 can be drawn down to cover external or site work.

9. Extension

If that small house needs more space, an extension can be added. This can either be an exempt development under planning regulations, or as part of a planning application. It’s worth checking this one out with your local authority. The maximum grant is available here.

10. Professional services associated with the grant

The grant also accounts for the cost of any professional services such as fees or surveys that are associated with the works. The can account for either 10% plus Vat of the net construction cost or €14,000 whichever is the lesser.