numbers up Majella O’Donnell says RTE architect Dermot Bannon does not know 'anything about pricing'
“He just has the dream and it’s the project manager who has to do all the figures," Majella says
They’re the best of pals now but Majella O’Donnell has questioned Dermot Bannon’s grasp of maths after he doubled the original budget on their Donegal home renovation.
A special episode of Room to Improve: Constructive Criticism airs tomorrow as a series finale in which a trio of well-known viewers turn the tables on the celebrity architect when they revisit some of his most memorable moments in recent years.
Dermot renovated Majella and Daniel O’Donell’s four-bedroom, detached home in Kincasslagh with an original budget of €200,000 but in the end, it cost close to €400,000.
“I don’t think he knows anything about pricing, to be honest with you,” said Majella.
“He just has the dream and it’s the project manager who has to do all the figures.
"He does up his plans but then they go to the project manager and instead of saying, ‘What can I do for €200,000?’ he draws up something and then says to the project manager, ‘Could you make that cost €200,000?’
“He wants to give you what he feels is the best, so he does it and hopes that you will agree and scrape money from here, there and everywhere.
“Obviously, we were lucky that we were able to increase the budget but we did a lot of stuff you can’t really see on TV. We re-insulated the whole inside of the house with underfloor heating and all that stuff, so that did push it up.
"If you give Dermot a budget, you should know he’s going to completely ignore it and it’s the poor project manager that has to rein everything back in and stop him trying to do expensive things.
"But he’s so exuberant and excited about what he does, it is hard to rein him in.”
But she said that, four years on, she adored their renovated home and wouldn’t change a thing about it.
“No, I’m am very happy with all of it. It’s so usable, so user-friendly, so sociable.
“It’s fantastic when you have a load of people staying in the house and everything’s open, the kids have room to run around. Before, it was a very dark house with small rooms, so no, I just love everything he did,” she told the Irish Independent.
“I love Dermot. He’s really lovely, he’s very charming and is always in a good mood and trying to make you happy. We became friends and we still text each other – it was a fantastic experience.”
Majella, who is currently holidaying in Tenerife with her famous husband, said her heart went out to anyone attempting renovations on their homes now, with building supply issues causing budgets to soar.
She said her own daughter and her husband got badly stung with their building project, which was delayed for more than six months and had now doubled in price.
“I just feel so sorry for anybody. This is not the time to do it.
“If people can hang on for a year or two, I think it would be very wise. Hopefully things will start being sensible again but it’s ridiculous, having to do anything like that now. So, yes, we were very lucky,” she said.
She will be joined on tomorrow’s programme by RTÉ presenter Nuala Carey and journalist Patrick Freyne as they sit down with Dermot to relive his biggest water-cooler moments.
Room to Improve: Constructive Criticism is on tomorrow at 9.30pm on RTÉ One and on the RTÉ Player
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