Step by step renovation in Belfast

Kirsty Tumelty’s Victorian renovation project literally got under her skin. 

My partner Gary and I had lived in a rented apartment and didn’t think about moving for a long time,” says Kirsty. “We went to view a few houses to see if we might be able to buy something; we were on the lookout for a Victorian terraced house in particular.” 

“All of the properties we visited were very different. The one thing they had in common was that they were all done up. There was one exception, and that’s the house we bought. It’s funny how people say that as soon as you enter a property, you fall in love. We thought the opposite when we first saw it. Our initial thought was, it’s awful, we hate it!”

“So we kept looking and saw other nice properties. But for some reason, we couldn’t stop thinking about this one. And so we eventually decided to put in an offer. We thought it was overpriced so we put in a lower offer, and ended up in a bidding war. We eventually won, and moved in for a month to get to know the place.”

“The first thing to do was tidy up. The house had been rented, and we got rid of everything including carpets. That meant a lot of skips and a lot of trips to the dump. We’re in the middle of a terrace but thankfully there’s an alley at the back. The garden was also a mess, so we had to get rid of weeds, everything.”

Action plan 

“The first thing we did was sort out a leak, and then came up with a plan to do up each room in succession,” says Kirsty. “We did as much as we could ourselves; the only trades we had to hire were a plumber and a plasterer. Later on we also got a builder in to do all of the work in the bathrooms as we felt that was too much for us to take on.”


Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. She previously held the same role in an Irish trade publication, before that she worked at the National Standards Authority of Ireland. She graduated with a BA in Urban Studies from Columbia University in New York and holds an MBA from the Instituto de Estudios Bursatiles in Madrid. France of origin, she now lives in Portarlington, County Laois, where she's taken on the task of renovating a listed building! Email

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