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Going from an A to a D rated house, are we mad?

  • 08-08-2022 8:37pm
    Registered Users Posts: 28 SarahPL

    Hi all! We are currently in the process of looking for a new house. We bought our current house new 5 years ago, it is lovely and modern, so warm (too warm sometimes) with an air to water heating system. Electricity bills are low. But the developer squeezed every house possible into the estate and it just feels small, small rooms, small garden etc.

    We are in the process of bidding for a new house that I love, bigger with lovely garden and plenty of room to extend in the future. But we will be going from an A2 to a D2, it will need a new boiler and windows at a minimum and I’m not sure what else. With the price of electricity etc going up now it just feels like a slightly mad move but I just love the house. We are also due baby number two and could potentially be moving in soon after he is born, in the middle of winter, and when I think about it I feel like we are mad to be considering it!

    Would love to hear peoples thoughts/experiences! Thanks!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,488 ✭✭✭Mehaffey1

    After a lifetime of living in cold houses I do think you are mad unless the cost of improving the house you are after isn't a consideration at all.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,041 ✭✭✭ongarite

    It'll be a big shock to you & your wallet.

    If it's only a D2 it's probably quite an old house with little in the way of QOL upgrades. Old wiring, plumbing & layout choices of that time.

    It'll have plenty of draughts and will be difficult and costly to keep as comfortably warm for long periods for new born without heating on near constantly.

    Oil for heating isn't as cheap as it was, 1000L to get through winter around €1200

  • Registered Users Posts: 291 ✭✭ThreeGreens

    There are a lot of grants now for improving your home efficiency.

    Is doing a major retrofit before moving in an option? Going by the read-reckoners (I've no real world experience in this) you could do a major job for about €30K after grants. In the context of moving home, that's probably not an inaccessible amount.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,041 ✭✭✭ongarite

    A C2 home is 60% more efficient than a D2 home. That's a lot in context of home heating & comfort.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,033 ✭✭✭Ms2011

    My poor 200 year old renovation project is an E rating at best but its amazing how quick you adjust. I go to my SIL house which would be A rated and I find it hard to breath in it and very stuffy and when I go outside after being there I feel extra cold.

    Post edited by Ms2011 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,323 ✭✭✭tscul32

    We went from D to C2 with double glazing and a new boiler. There is a draught in the hallway and the rooms of an earlier extension are always cold, not properly insulated.

    However, the upstairs is always warm and we installed a stove into the fireplace a couple of years ago and it heats the living area brilliantly. We don't tend to spend much time in the cold areas anyway.

    Would love the house to be warmer but it's a nice big house with the garden we needed for 3 boys and I wouldn't trade it for an A rated smaller house in a million years.

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  • Administrators Posts: 52,664 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭awec

    Assuming the mortgage cost is going to be the same, I think I'd only do this if I was financially very comfortable.

    Going from A to D is going to be a massive difference in your monthly outgoings, and improvements are going to cost a lot with current rates. If you are in a position to absorb all of this, and the extra child, then go for it.

    But IMO no point having a nicer house if you are having to cut back the lifestyle to pay the higher bills.

  • I'm in an A2-rated new detached 4-bedroom house in a development that is similar, albeit a bit more roomy, than the one described by the OP. I was able to get an extra room by putting a garden room at the gable end, which serves as a gym / garden shed. The house is very nice and roomy, but is also very overlooked at the back. I solved this by investing in pleached trees for screening and some strategically placed larger trees bought from a nursery (not a garden center).

    I have often considered moving to a house with bigger grounds, but I am veering against doing so for several reasons, taking a long-term view (i.e. envisaging life in my 60s, 70s and 80s):

    • Cost associated with upgrading / increased heating costs. This will add up enormously over time.
    • Cost associated with keeping and maintaining larger grounds - lawn mowing, hedge pruning, weed control, paving renewal, etc. Larger space indoors is a boon, but will also add to furnishing costs, the cost of light and heat, and the amount of time you spend cleaning and tidying. When the kids move out in 20 short years (assuming they move out for college etc), you might find the place very big and empty.
    • Utility of the extra space. We all imagine that large gardens are great when you have kids - and they are. But! Realistically, they are only used in summer / early autumn. And as your kids get older - teenagers, say - they will probably view the garden as a chore rather than a play-place. When the kids move out, you will have hopefully another 30 to 40 years where you and your wife alone are the primary users of the garden - and also the ones tasked with maintaining it. You might enjoy doing this until one day, you don't any more.
    • The house you are referring to sounds like a one-off house. For those in the prime of their lives, these are great. But again, consider when you are older. Will you be isolated? Will you be vulnerable? Will you have neighbours who you can speak to next door when you want something brought home from the shop?

    There's no right or wrong answer here, but rather than thinking of the house as a place principally to raise kids in, look beyond that, because there's no reason to think that you won't continue to reside there for 30, 40, even 50 years after they've gone. (You could always downsize at that point, but this might be a hard thing to do if you've grown accustomed to the house and neighborhood, which you surely would).

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,830 ✭✭✭✭markodaly

    Find out what needs to be done on the D2-rated house to bring it up to a C or a B rating.

    It may not all be that expensive.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,288 ✭✭✭bladespin

    It rarely is, the 'enormous' costs of heating a lower rated house are a bit hysterical tbh, ours would be a D2 and while it's not cheap it's not outrageous either.

  • Administrators Posts: 52,664 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭awec

    Relative to an A2 it is going to be significantly more.

  • Registered Users Posts: 684 ✭✭✭steamsey

    If you’re going ahead with this, it’s not madness if it’s what you want. My advice, having done something similar, is to immediately get a good stove so at the very least you'll have a warm living room / maybe kitchen area too. Especially important with young ones over the winter. Find a good source of wood, stock up in spring and dry it out until burning season.

    I also found that most jobs are connected. Re-wire and re-plumb make sense to do

    together, and re-plumb makes sense to do with a new heating system like a heat

    pump which requires new windows and EWI. Hard to see which major jobs can be

    done in isolation. As a result, I’ve done no major jobs to our E rated house – to

    me they are all part of one big job which will take months and we’ll have to

    move out.

    In terms of quick wins, I also recommend looking at window seals and hinges, blocked up old holes from TV cables etc in the walls and put a hood in the attic hatch – little things like that add up to a bit of a difference. Even a curtain over a draughty front door makes a noticeable difference, whether you like the aesthetics or not. If there is any single glazing, there is film (quite like cling film) that you can put over single glazed panels and that is cheap, ugly but makes a difference

  • Posts: 8,856 ✭✭✭ Ernesto Wide Butterfly

    I think if you’re worried about costs then you may have answered your own question.

    but I think the joy you’ll get from a much bigger roomier airier house with more land etc will be priceless as you raise your family.

    Have a think about long term employment prospects pay rises promotions etc and if you feel that you can make it work financially then go for it- I’d take an old house with character and more room any day over an A rated box

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,288 ✭✭✭bladespin

    Maybe but 'enormous costs' is a bit misleading tbh, plus there's plenty of opportunity for improvement.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,202 ✭✭✭cruizer101

    It depends on the house a D2 could potentially be upgraded a decent amount fairly easily. Maybe it has cavity walls that can be pumped, Upgrade the attic Insulation, Close up chimney with a stove, New windows and doors (bit of money in that but not a massive job), stick on some solar panels and new boiler and could easily get high C maybe B territory in which case bills will be a bit more but not too bad.

  • Registered Users Posts: 663 ✭✭✭starbaby2003

    It can certainly be made an A rated house. We brought us up from a F to an A2. You have to weigh the cost of doing so though. OP I’d go for it. You talk of room to extend if that’s something you would be interested in doing anyway and can’t in your own home it’s a no brainer to retrofit and extend at the same time when you finances permit. You may have a few cold/expensive winters ahead of you but it’s temporary 😊

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  • Registered Users Posts: 28 SarahPL

    Thanks all for your replies, lots of food for thought there!

    I think it’s like the perfect family home that I can see my two boys growing up in BUT with a new baby due so soon I’m just not sure it’s the right time. Lots to think about.

    We are in a bidding war now anyway so we may not even get the choice depending on how that goes!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,123 ✭✭✭Furze99

    Thing with older houses is not to expect to have them heated fully throughout. Some people have gotten used to the idea that you wander about the house in your teeshirt, regardless of whether it's mid summer or mid winter. This is a relatively recent idea. If you aim to heat one or two of your living rooms, kitchen etc in this older house and just have trickle heat in others, to keep the chill off them, you'll be fine. Stick on an extra layer if needed. You'll be fine and quite probably healthier for it. Good luck with the bidding, unpleasant business.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,442 ✭✭✭Cape Clear

    Out of interest how low are your ESB bills are they below the National average? Going by some of the threads on the building forum a high BER isn't always an indication of a warm house and probably the same can be said about a low BER. If it's more space you are looking for extending a house in an estate doesn't always give you great bang for your buck. Down the line it may be harder to sell an extended estate house with a smaller garden. Good luck with how you move forward.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,329 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    The price of electricity is hopefully only temporary.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,144 ✭✭✭Ray Palmer

    One thing you can be sure of is all fuel will keep increasing in price going forward as we run out of fossil fuel.

    The main issue about BER rating is they aren't very accurate but the only indicator we have. After upgrading my house I will say I would not down grade to a lower BER. It isn't so much about the cost but the comfort. There are a lot of people complaining about the heat and not being able to sleep which is not a problem in my house. The house is noticeably cooler than outside where as many houses you go into are hotter.

    An old house is a lot of work and difficult to up keep

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,329 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    My own house has underfloor heating and I wouldn't go without it. Nothing like warm toes on a frosty morning. I grew up in an 80's house where you could see your breath on cold mornings and condensation on the windows. Never going back to that.

    I know there are plenty of methods to retroactively insulate houses, but there's nothing like a modern house with modern insulation. You have to compromise on space though. v

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,144 ✭✭✭Ray Palmer

    Vivid memories of that myself. I would like underfloor heating but the cost to retro fit it just makes it a no go. My current house is so much more comfortable after upgrading to external insulation. We used to have to have the heating on at night or would freeze in the night. The problem was the noise of the heating would wake us up. Not the boiler but the general creaking of the heating pipes and the house.

    You could put on the heating and it would take about 3 hours before the temperature rose to 20C but now it is 30 minutes and switched off after about an hour with us occasionally turning it for 30 minutes later on on the coldest days of the year. Before there were certain days with the heating on full not warming the house past 18C no matter how long it was on. You do end up using the heating longer in Spring as the external temperature doesn't effect the house but it is still a very short period.

    Don't think I could handle a draughty house again but we have plenty of space so I understand wanting more space too. There was a article recently showing higher rated buildings weren't cheaper to heat than lower grades but that was due to the size and how the building were detached or not. Effectively it is cheaper to heat a smaller lower grade property than a larger top rated property. Not a big surprise but going to a bigger less efficient house is going to make a noticeable cost difference to anybody and could feel very uncomfortable for them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,480 ✭✭✭enricoh

    I see some of the new estates near me and literally the only thing going for them is they are A rated. Dreadful for parking, rubbish garden, houses crammed in, half council/ charities owned, overlooked etc. Very stuffy in this weather too.

    If u were an 80s kid you were probably reared in a g rated house! I'd swap anyday personally, spray foam the roof alone would make a big difference.

  • Administrators Posts: 52,664 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭awec

    People talking about the BER being inexact are missing the point. Yes, it's not exact and it's a bit box-ticky, but this argument only really holds up if you are trying to compare an A2 to a B1 or something.

    In moving from an A2 to a D that is bigger than your current house you are 100% going to notice it both in your comfort in the house and in your wallet. It is not going to be an insignificant difference, it is going to be very different. Your heating bills are going to be much, much higher.

    But, this is not to say you should not make the move, if you are able to absorb this then go for it, and over time you can invest in the property to improve things. Longer term it could still be the best decision for you to move now, but you may as well go in with your eyes open. Your compromise for more space is going to be a loss of comfort and a lighter wallet.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,683 ✭✭✭Bawnmore

    Just to echo significant improvement to comfort of the house doesn't have to cost a fortune. Our was a BER F when we moved in and we've brought it up to a C2 by:

    • Pumping Cavity + Insulating Attic: 2.5k
    • New Boiler (there was no boiler at all before) and smart controls/trvs: 4.5k
    • New front and back door: 3k
    • Bulbs etc: negligible

    House is very comfortable and heats quickly/holds heat well. It'll never be A rated (while we own it at least) but costs to heat through the winter aren't high.