Posts Tagged ‘The Irish Historic Houses Association’

The Irish Historic Houses Association and Section 482

July 15, 2008

A new Historic Houses association has recently been formed by Susan Kellett at Enniscoe House in Crossmolina in Co Mayo and George Gossip of Ballinderry House near Kilconnell, Ballinasloe in Co Galway to help ensure the survival of historic houses

Every historic building regardless of its proportion is likely to demand an owner in possession of an above average income as there is a propensity of historic houses to devour unlimited amounts of cash as I know too well myself with the vast outlay here at Kilbrogan House in Bandon.  There is a European body called The Union of European Historic Houses Association which the IHHA hopes to become a member of.

The new association believes that there needs to be some more innovative ways of allowing people to open their houses in return for some benefits or government assistance. Currently Section 482 assistance is very lucrative for those who can avail of it but many like myself here at Kilbrogan House do not qualify because whilst the house is listed, it is not considered to be of exceptional significance to be accepted under the scheme.  My house is not exactly Castletown but nevertheless is a fine example of a Georgian Townhouse with quite ornate plasterwork throughout.

I personally believe that the application of section 482 status is unfairly carried out.  I mentioned this to our local TD, Jim O’Keefe who didn’t even know what section 482 was so that’s how informed our politicians are! It’s not exactly a vote catcher so I didn’t expect any feedback, positive or otherwise and surprise, surprise didn’t get it. There are a number of houses which qualify for the section that have been restored from the ground upwards, ie with nothing having remained of the building except a shell.  This has allowed developers or private individuals with significant wealth to effectively build a new house offsetting all expenditure against income, ie paying little or no tax.  Yes, its the story of the rich becoming richer.

Those who avail of section 482 have a requirement to open their properties to the public but the sad reality is that very few people in the country even know what houses are in the scheme or what houses are open to be visited.

The new group hopes, among other things,  to swap ideas about renovation work and heating.  Modern remedies for heating such as double glazing and improved methods of insulation are often forbidden in protected structures where their installation is likely to affect the historic fabric of the building.  In addition, the scale of the houses makes everything very difficult and extremely expensive to install. For example, I am currently about to undertake the restoration of my front door  which through the years has fallen into a major state of disrepair making it difficult to open and allowing cold air to fly through it.  Even finding a carpenter qualified to undertake such a restoration job was an incredible task and eventually led me to the Letterfrack Furniture Conservation College in County Galway.  Yes, my  front door will be spending a holiday this year in County Galway.  The bill for this small project is immense and will certainly not be covered by the annual income from Bed and Breakfast and Self Catering.

I am a big believer in sharing knowledge and information about how to restore old buildings.  It took me over two years to find somebody who was qualifed to repair ornate cornicing at an affordable price.  There are plenty of workmen who will put up pre-moulded cornicing but it’s another story to find experts who will take casts of mouldings and recreate the originals.

Good luck to the Irish Historic Houses Association

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