‘Room to improve’ for Killawalla cottage



Room to improve
?The stars of  the show, Peter Jordan and Anne Kerrigan, are pictured with Architect Dermot Bannon in their newly redesigned roadside cottage in Killawalla.

‘Room to Improve’ for Killawalla cottage

Popular RTÉ show ensures couple's dreams come true

SITTING in a hot-tub in this Arctic winter weather is not for the faint-hearted but then RTÉ’s ‘Room to Improve’ architect, Dermot Bannon, and the builders who have the courage to take on his projects, need plenty of hair on their chests, (metaphorically speaking, of course).
It is Friday, November 8, and the party is just starting at Peter Jordan and Anne Kerrigan’s renovated and extended cottage in Killawalla, near Westport. The stresses of the previous months have melted away as family, friends and the COCO television crew enjoy the celebrations marking the end of a rather dramatic few months during which Architect, Dermot Bannon; Quantity Surveyor, Patricia Power and  Oakbarn builders, Willie and Gerard McDonagh came together to create a dream home for the couple and their two young daughters.   
“We bought the old cottage four years ago and had been living in it since becoming conscious of the particular areas that definitely needed work like draughts, windows, insulation, heating and daylight ingress,” explains Peter Jordan.
So ‘for the craic’, he decided to send an application in early 2012 to ‘Room to Improve’ but turned out it was too late for that series. But then in September 2012 COCO television came down to Mayo, videoed the house and interviewed them. After being shortlisted from 300 applications, Dermot Bannon visited them and filming started in March 2013, with construction starting during the heat-wave in July. 

“It has been a hectic, exhausting roller coaster of a five months, possibly all the more so because of the time scale and restraints. The TV involvement has been surprisingly not that intrusive most of the time, you eventually become oblivious to the cameras because you’re so focused on your project, although the days spent  filming are sometimes frustrating when you have loads of other stuff you want to get done,” Peter told The Mayo News.
And, despite ‘waiting and waiting and waiting for answers on issues from Dermot Bannon’ who sometimes forgot about their budgetary constraints, Peter says: “The end result is a wonderful comfortable, warm, well insulated family friendly house with great views and light that ticked near all the boxes on our initial wish list.”
Indeed, he adds, Dermot Bannon helped them to realise their dream even if they initially feared that he wanted to make their extension look like a cow-shed. Much to Anne’s consternation Dermot had initially suggested a separate extension, finished in agricultural cladding to match the local rural landscape.
SERENDIPITOUS may be the most appropriate word for how builder brothers, Gerard and Willie McDonagh became involved in Room to Improve.
It is just over a year ago since Gerard’s wife, Ina’s car got stuck on the roadside outside the Jordan-Kerrigan cottage in Killawalla.
Being a hospitable person Anne invited Ina in while she waited on Gerard to come and pull her car out of the soft verge. The fact that Gerard was a builder emerged during the conversation and that they were considering improvements.
“I gave her our card and never heard a thing until April of this year when we got a phone call from Patricia Power, the Quantity Surveyor on the programme, asking if we would like to tender,” says Gerard McDonagh.
The Jordans had been asked to submit the names of eight local builders and ultimately the McDonagh brothers were chosen.

Dermot the Diva!
Willie says, laughing: “We were nervous and wondered what we were letting ourselves in for. We didn’t realise what a diva Dermot was! But, of course, he is also a consummate professional even if the artistic vision he had in his mind wasn’t always transferred into the black and white of the drawings.”
He said that after the initial day of filming, which involved two cameras following them around, it became easier, particularly since the crew were so helpful and unobtrusive.
The brothers sub-contracted some of the work to local craftsmen which, they say, the programme will show ‘reflects well on the high quality of their workmanship’.
Ultimately, the McDonaghs, with the help of the other craftsmen, realised Dermot Bannon’s vision of the cottage and its modern extension snuggled in an old farmyard setting with a contemporary dimension and framed by an evocative rural landscape.

MORE Room to Improve, RTE One, Sunday next, December 8 at 9.30pm. See also www.oakbarn.ie.

Room to improve
?The spacious interior of the extension to the cottage.