Designing Your Home for the Future

How to make sustainable and space-economic design choices with your home renovation or new build with Fergus Flanagan, architect

When approaching the redesign of a home or designing a home from scratch the first question I ask is: is this a home for ‘Life’?

If the answer is ‘Yes!’, then I change how I approach the design. If the clients are young, I have to get their heads out of the now and think about their whole life journey in their home. If they decide to have children, those kids will someday be teenagers and will want space for themselves. The way the family use the home will change through their life journey.

Flexibility within the house

One of the most important things in a home is to create flexibility in the home. Life changes and your home has to change with you. This can be simply having a guest room with a sofa bed in it, so when you have no guests the room has another function. You should not have any rooms in your home that you don’t use. After all you are paying to heat these rooms.

Storage is also very important element within a home. With the advent of people working from home, in reality the only stationary objects for working at home is the printer and maybe some files. People can work from any room in the home.

Mobility within the house

If you have a two storey home you also have to think about mobility. A ground floor room that could be used as a bedroom with the facility of having a ground floor bathroom with a shower will mean you will never have to move out of your home, you can cater for elderly relatives when they visit, or God forbid that you break a leg. On a number of houses we designed, we have two storage areas which are located one above the other. This can facilitate a lift in the future should one be required, in the interim period it functions as storage spaces.

Running costs

We should all try and do our part in reducing our carbon footprint. This can also save you money in the long run. However, you have to be careful in terms of the payback time.

The best investment in your home is insulation. The payback time is relatively short, and you will notice the difference in your enjoyment of your home immediately. Other cost-effective ways of keeping in the heat is to either replace your windows or at the very least install air tightness tape around your windows you don’t need to replace your windows if they are not very old. The simple installation of the air tightness tape around your windows prevents the heat being lost around the opening for the windows.

Other systems such as replacing your heating system or solar panels will come back to what your payback time is. If you are younger, you should be around to see the benefits of this investment. If you are older, then the question should be asked in terms of payback time before you invest your funds into this home improvement.

When designing a new home, space economic design refers to designing buildings that make the best use of available space. To achieve space economic design, as architects, we must consider the building’s layout, the use of multifunctional spaces, and the optimization of available space.

1. Building Orientation – the orientation of the building can have a significant impact on energy usage. Buildings should be oriented to maximize natural light and solar heat gain while minimizing heat loss.

2. Materials – sustainable materials should be used in construction to reduce the environmental impact of the building. This can include using recycled materials, using materials with a lower carbon footprint, and choosing materials that can be easily recycled or repurposed.

3. Energy-efficient systems – the installation of energy-efficient systems, such as solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, and energy-efficient lighting can help reduce the building’s energy consumption.

4. Green roofs and walls – the use of green roofs and walls can help reduce the urban heat island effect and provide insulation for the building.

5. Space optimization – the use of multifunctional spaces and optimization of available space can help reduce the building’s overall footprint and maximize the use of available space.

In conclusion, sustainability and space economic design are essential considerations in modern architecture. By implementing sustainable and space economic design choices, architects can help reduce the environmental impact of buildings while optimizing available space. As architects, it is our responsibility to design buildings that are environmentally responsible, energy-efficient, and space-

About Fergus Flanagan Architects

Fergus Flanagan Architects are a progressive RIAI
registered Architects practice located in both Dublin &
Wexford. They provide a full range of architecture and
design services, focusing on both domestic and commercial projects of every scale. Their work ranges
from large and complex commercial projects to small
house extensions; they bring to them all the same
commitment to great design and attention to detail.
They have particular expertise in the residential, leisure and healthcare sectors, and broad experience in the office, education and industrial sectors. Learn more at

Catch Fergus Flanagan Architects in the Phonewatch Ask An Expert Hub on Saturday 10am to 6pm at the permanent tsb Ideal Home Show, April 21 st to 23rd in the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin.

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