We’re called Robert Doyle Eco Build, and we’re based in Kenilworth Square in Rathgar, just on the edge of Dublin city.
How long have you been in business?
We started in 1999, and we changed our name to Eco Build in 2008. Previously we were just Robert Doyle Construction.
What do you specialise in?
To put it briefly, we specialise in full-house refurbishments and the building of new residential homes. Generally we work in the Dublin area.
What is your own personal background in this industry? Did you train in any particular field?
I trained as a civil engineer when I started, and then I trained and worked in the UK for 12 years, so I had experience of energy efficient housing over there. I’ve also done a degree in construction management and during the downturn I had the time to do a masters degree in business.
Can you describe how you came to start your own business?
For a long time I was a contracting manager in larger construction firms, but I always had an idea of setting up my own business. In 1999 I decided to take a gamble and I started to take on small expansions and a little bit of commercial work. From there I’ve built everything up bit by bit. It was a gamble at the time but thankfully a lot of people have backed me throughout the years, and there are now 25 people working in the company.
What makes you more eco-focused than others?
As I’ve said, we changed our name to Eco Build just before the recession in 2008, because we thought that was where the market should be going; and indeed the market was moving in that direction at the time. It turned out to be difficult during the downturn as the concept of investing larger sums of money in eco-friendly products to save longer term was too new and some customers just couldn’t see the benefit, and bought the cheaper non-energy efficient option. Thankfully things have changed now, and people are seeking to build sustainable homes. We have great new technology in heat pumps, air handling technology, external insulation which I think will be the future of house and commercial building in Ireland.
What inspired you to focus on eco products instead of traditional materials?
When I was starting out I had a personal awareness of environmental issues. I had also seen a lot of different types of homes and I was well acquainted with the long-term benefits of a well-insulated and technologically equipped building with features like solar thermal heat pumps and air handling systems. The market is certainly moving towards eco-friendly building, but I would like to see the Irish government doing more to promote it. We were impressed with the SEAI deep retrofit scheme but there has only been a small amount of publicity around that. We need to start looking at bringing existing homes up to an A-rating, and there are grants available for as much as 50% of the costs.
Over the last few years what have you noticed about the market for eco-friendly products in Ireland? Have there been any particularly notable changes within your area of expertise?
Change is very incremental in this area. There has certainly been an increase in large refurbishment projects that can cost between €100,000 and €400,000. The particularly popular features are heat pumps, under-floor heating and external insulation. People are slowly starting to realise the benefit of investing in cost saving eco-friendly products over cheaper traditional products which offer no return.
Do you have a prediction for the next big thing in eco-friendly renovations?
I think it will be insulation and airtightness. If someone wants to move a couple of points on the BER scale then airtightness and air handling systems can help them to achieve that very easily. The SEAI have recognised this too, and they are trying to move the market in that direction with their deep retrofit scheme. One part of this will be the removal of the wood-burning stoves that were very popular a few years ago. They were a fad and people liked them, but really, they just let all the heat go to waste through the chimney.
How important is it to have a relationship with a supplier like Chadwicks?
It’s very important from our point of view. The most valuable part is being able to pick up the phone to get a quick price on something or to get feedback on an idea. The showroom is also a great asset because we can bring customers there to look at products. We have a relationship with the Chadwicks staff, who we know will look after the customers and bring them through the different options.
Have you any exciting projects coming up that you would like to talk about?
We have a couple of deep retrofits that we’re about to start, and they will be very exciting for us because we’ve never done one from start to finish before.
What’s the best way for customers to get in touch with your company?
It’s very simple – pick up the phone and call me on 01-497-5087 or send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org