Private Consultation

Private Clients

Sunni L. Goodson, Historic Buildings Consultant, provides a number of conservation, planning and heritage services to private clients. Please see below for a sampling; alternatively, get in touch to discuss your particular project needs today.

In addition to her own extensive services, Sunni offers her well­-established, collaborative relationships with a myriad of building, design and conservation professionals, including architects, archaeologists, engineers, interior designers, general and specialist contractors and materials experts. She provides expert guidance on and co­ordination of the most suitable package of services to fit your project needs.

For a description of the various types of protections, built heritage and associated owner responsibilities, please see, “What’s In a Name? Protected Structures, the National Monuments Service, Architectural Conservation Areas and Z2 Residential Conservation Areas”.

As set out in What’s In a Name?, there is specific legislation that protects the character and integrity of Protected Structures and Monuments, as well as buildings within Architectural Conservation Areas and Z2 Residential Conservation Areas. Minor works which for non-listed buildings would be deemed exempt from planning requirements will in some instances require planning permission, particularly for Protected Structures, if the work will affect the character or fabric integral to the salient interest of the building. To set out in advance the works which would or would not require planning permission, a building owner can request at no cost a Section 57 Declaration from the local authority.

The content of Section 57 Declarations which were carried out in the early 2000s may not always be deemed fully applicable in a modern context, as the understanding of conservation best practice has evolved significantly since the legislation came into effect. However, where this document has not been obtained, it may be possible to handle some works without full planning permission. Some less-invasive works, such as repairs and minor alterations to non-historic fabric may be considered Exempted Development. To allow the local authority to set out any conditions and to avoid the potential for planning irregularities in future, a Section 5 application for a Declaration of Exempted Development should be submitted. The turnaround for Section 5 applications is generally much shorter than for full planning permission. Section 5 applications require:

  • Completed application form
  • Application fee
  • 2 no. copies of site location map with site boundary clearly marked in red
  • A comprehensive, annotated photographic record of the building
  • Architectural Heritage Impact Assessment, including a Method Statement of repair/works to be undertaken, including materials specification
  • Elevation, plan and detail drawings if/where appropriate

It is often best advised for your conservation consultant to liaise with the local authority in advance of submitting a Section 5 application on your behalf, in order to obtain guidance on any and all particulars or details which the Conservation Officer will require to determine eligibility for Exempted Development.

Planning Applications are required for works to Protected Structures, Monuments, and for some works within ACAs and Z2 Conservation Areas that would impact the salient character of the building / area or result in material alterations to historic fabric. Depending on the nature of the structure, planning permission may even be required for upgrading of services, painting, or similar works. Most changes of use, the construction of new extensions, alterations to the internal plan, works to windows, external signage or shop front design, and similar works will require planning permission.

Depending on the final use of the building and the nature of the proposed works, a Fire Safety Certificate (compliance with Part K), Disability Access Certificate (compliance with Part M), or other building regulations may apply. In these instances, it is important that the character of the building be finely balanced with safety, access and the building’s feasibility for use in a future context. It should also be noted that where a Fire Safety Certificate is required and/or where an extension of at least 40m2 is proposed, the proposed works must be signed off by an Assigned Certifier according to the revised building regulations as of 2014.

The documentation required for Planning Applications is similar to that for Section 5 applications, but is more prescribed and extensive in nature. The following documentation will be required for development works to protected buildings or sites, as well as for non-listed historic buildings depending on the nature of the project / location:

  • Copy of newspaper advert, outlined in red
  • Copy of site notice detailing development to be undertaken (additional copy to be laminated and posted along the public right-of-way at the site premises)
  • Completed application form
  • Application fee
  • Site location map with site boundary clearly marked in red and ownership boundary marked in blue
  • Ordnance Survey map with development property cleared outlined in red
  • Conservation Report / Architectural Heritage Impact Assessment / Planning Statement as appropriate, including a Method Statement of repair/works to be undertaken, including materials specification, as well as a comprehensive, annotated photographic record of the building
  • Measured Existing survey & Proposed elevation, plan and detail drawings at various scales, including contiguous elevations, site plans, demolition, etc.
  • 10 no. copies of all drawings, reports and other documentation (6 no. copies for non-Protected Structures)

Some developments also require Environmental Impact Assessments, depending on the nature and size of the proposed work. Acquisition of planning permission results in development levies which may include additional fees if the property is near to existing or planned public infrastructure such as the LUAS, Dart, Metro North, or other services.

Sunni L. Goodson will assist you in determining the most appropriate course of action depending upon the details of your particular project.

Conservation Reports and Architectural Heritage Impact Assessments are required for both Section 5 applications as well as Planning Applications, as appropriate. They require a thorough site visit to understand and document the building or site, varying degrees of archival research and acquisition of historic mapping. The reports entail a history and development of the building as well as a Statement of Significance to demonstrate an understanding of the building fabric. This is followed by a detailed Architectural Description, and most often a condition assessment and recommendations for repair. In both instances the recent planning history will be set out, as well as the proposed development, followed by an assessment of the impact and appropriateness of the works, and mitigation works where required. A thorough photographic is also required. The nuances of the two reports determine which is most appropriate for your project.

Impact Assessments may also be required for new build or works within an ACA or which may impact a Protected Structure to make the local authority aware of the careful thought and planning that has gone into the development proposals, and provide evidence of mitigating works or efforts to ensure the appropriateness of the proposal.      

Sunni has composed dozens of these reports and has a well-established reputation of conscientiousness and good working relationships with many local authority conservation professionals.


Interior Design services range from simple redecoration to full-scale refurbishment. Sunni is adept in space planning and mechanical & electrical layouts for both residential and commercial interiors, which can maximize the efficiency, flow and enjoyment of those spaces. Colour schemes and upgrading of finishes, fixtures and fittings can make a substantial difference in the atmosphere and enjoyment of a room. Where structural alterations, movement of walls or other sign-off is required, Sunni works closely with qualified Structural Engineers to ensure safety and compliance with the Building Regulations. Attention to interior design principles and elements such as balance, flow, energy, rhythm, scale, proportion and unity are the essential tools in the designer’s repertoire to make your creative vision come to life.

Often, interior design and conservation projects go hand-in-glove, and it is important that your designer understand the significance and character of your space to augment the outcomes, and to understand the legislative processes required of the changes that are desired. Sunni offers a niche in both of these fields and welcomes the opportunity to discuss your project needs, or to work with your existing architect to fulfil your project goals.


As set out in What’s In a Name, notification and/or consent from the Minister for the Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht is required for works to or around a Monument. Sunni L. Goodson has a depth of experience in liaising with the DoAHG and is well-versed in the required documentation as well as the parameters of Notification/Consent, and offers her established professional relationships with the relevant authorities to your project.

Under the Planning & Development Act 2000, the onus in on owners of Protected Structures to ensure the maintenance and care of these buildings. However, where damage is sustained to the building either through natural accident (storm damage, etc.) or through the neglect of a previous owner which threatens the condition of the building and/or represents a health and safety threat to the public, the local authority can issue an Enforcement or Endangerment notice that requires stabilisation or repair works to be undertaken imminently to prevent further damage or loss.

In such cases, it is often possible that the details of such works and any permissions can be obtained by engaging a conservation professional to liaise with the local authority via an Emergency Works letter. This process often requires a site visit(s) to the property by your consultant, accompanied by representatives of the local authority to agree the immediate needs and a limited, focused scope of works to be included in the Emergency Works. The documentation submitted by your consultant to the local authority will set out the impetus for the works and agree a method statement and all other parameters for repair.

At times, planning applications may be submitted which are inappropriate or insensitive to the built heritage. Over-looking extensions, poorly designed new build within direct vicinity of significant Protected Structures or within ACAs, or insensitive, heavy-handed proposals for re-use of historic complexes are some examples of potential planning difficulties. These proposals may negatively impact the character or experience of built heritage, its users or occupants. In each case a sober and considered approach should be taken as to whether a planning observation or indeed an appeal on a decision to grant is warranted. Sunni is well-versed in the protocol of such cases and seeks to balance the benefit of change and expansion with the needs of the historic environment and its patrons.

Sunni is also experienced in the planning appeals process and in providing expert testimony at An Bord Pleanála Oral Hearings. Should you feel a response may be warranted to a planning application, contact Sunni today to discuss the particulars of the application, its impact and the parameters which dictate the parties who may make an observation or appeal. If suitable, Sunni may provide expert written or oral responses to such cases on behalf of the client.

There are several principal means of capturing, recording and understanding a historic building, which are often undertaken prior to works commencement, in order to inform decisions about a building’s treatment, or to gauge its significance.

Measured surveys capture the appearance of a heritage building in its current state. Detailed measurements are taken on site to create a set of plans, sections and elevations, and may also include details of salient features. A measured survey is required for planning permission and is essential to providing a baseline historic record in the case of significant buildings scheduled for refurbishment. BIM (Building Information Modelling) software such as Revit and SketchUp also allows your building to be rendered in 3D format. Both 2D and 3D drawings can be helpful in imagining your project’s appearance upon works completion, or in understanding a complex plan or structural behaviour.

Architectural Inventories may be accompanied by measured survey drawings, but most often are detailed written documentation consisting of room-by-room and external schedules of an existing building. This will include a thorough architectural description capturing the plan, style, materials, features, joinery profiles, finishes, and other salient aspects of a historic building. Such inventories are often required by the local authority before commencing refurbishment works or alterations to a highly significant building or interior. This is always accompanied by a detailed Photographic Inventory of the building, to record specific details which a written description may not convey with sufficient accuracy.

Sunni’s depth of experience has yielded a detailed appreciation for the success of multidisciplinary research and investigation. She is adept at utilising Ireland’s vast primary research repositories including title deeds, parish records, city directories, valuations records, cartographic evidence and photographic archives, as well as secondary research and publications to develop a detailed understanding of a building’s origins, occupant and use history. Furthermore, she offers significant skills in building investigation, utilising a keen eye for period detail, evidence of alterations and combining this evidence with archival research and measured surveys to set out a building’s evolution and history, as well as the date of various features and spaces. Sunni also has worked on extensive projects utilising materials analysis including paint, plaster and wallpaper studies as well as dendrochronology to develop a complete record of a building’s development and significance.

Whether you are interested in simply understanding your home’s history or are undertaking studies of an unusual, suspect or significant building, Sunni possesses the skills necessary to understand, document and record it to suit your needs.

Inevitably, historic buildings will sustain damage or wear and tear, and in some cases significant damage. For example, parapet valleys of Georgian terraces are particularly susceptible to water ingress and damage. Unpainted window sashes will decay at an accelerated rate, and the improper introduction of modern damp-proofing systems to historic buildings may cause damage to external walls through trapped condensation or rising damp. In these and other cases, it is necessary to have a detail condition assessment undertaken by an experienced professional trained to recognise and identify the causes of damage to historic building fabric.

A detailed condition assessment and repair recommendations are required of Section 5 applications as well as Planning Applications as part of the associated Conservation Report of Architectural Heritage Impact Assessment. This should include the causes of damage as well as a general approach to repairs and a method statement for repair of each element.

For both small scale repair projects not subject to planning permission as well as for Tender purposes for larger-scale works, a detailed repair specification is required to direct the contractor as to the extent, scope and methodology of repair, including materials specifications. Sunni also provides detailed Schedules of Works, incorporating new development or works in addition to repairs. Contact Sunni today to discuss how her expertise can be applied to your project to achieve optimal practical and planning outcomes.

Since 2012 Sunni has leveraged over €106,000 in private and State grant funding to conservation and heritage projects. She has developed expertise in grant-writing honed by a nuanced understanding of the intention and scope of each grant scheme, as well as in managing the particular communication, documentation and draw-down requirements of a multitude of schemes to relieve private clients of the associated responsibilities.

Examples of grant schemes which have been available in recent years and/or are offered annually for works / repairs to Protected Structures may include:

  • Structures at Risk Scheme
  • Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme
  • Irish Georgian Society Conservation Grants Scheme

The Heritage Council also offers grants toward heritage-based research or events, and in the past has also funded archival research or technical testing / analysis of Protected Structures. Further, the Royal Irish Academy offers various grant schemes for archaeological, research, excavation, or other related projects of Monuments and archaeological sites. The Government Policy on Architecture and the Arts Council are also sources of heritage-project funding. Contact Sunni to enquire about the schemes that are currently available.

Furthermore, the DoAHG has recently launched the Living Cities Initiative which offers tax incentives for refurbishing Protected Structures in the urban centres of Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Kilkenny and Cork as residences or similar uses. This scheme is intended to revitalise the historic cores of Ireland’s major cities and reverse trends of high vacancy at the upper floors. Particular parameters apply regarding the size of said buildings, and there are limitations on the types of acceptable uses.

Sunni L. Goodson is prepared to offer detailed advice regarding your potential project and the most suitable sources of funding. See the Blog for the most up-to-date information on available grant schemes.

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Sunni would be delighted to offer her wealth of diverse experience to your heritage or conservation needs.

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