Before and after: a property Branach Developments recently brought back to life in Moyvore.

Award winning company transforms derelict local houses into modern homes

A construction firm that has spent the last three years bringing derelict rural properties in Westmeath and neighbouring counties back to life recently won a prestigious sustainability award at the 2023 Irish Property Awards.

Branach Developments is the only construction firm in the country that specialises in transforming derelict houses into comfortable, modern homes. To date, the firm, has brought over 20 houses back into use, including properties in Westmeath, Meath, Offaly and Laois

The firm was founded in 2020 by Kildare based builder Paddy Byrne and his cousin Galen Broughall, who decided that they, along with their close knit team, would focus on bringing some of the thousands of derelict houses dotted around the Midlands and beyond.

Shortlisted along with some of the biggest names in the construction sector for the Sustainability Award, Branach’s efforts obviously impressed Irish Property Awards judges as they went home with the much coveted accolade.

The Branach Developments team collecting their Sustainability Award at the recent 2023 Irish Property Awards. From left: Jack Broe, Tommy Hackett, Diarmuid Mawe (MC), Galen Broughall, Ciara Byrne, Joshua Jackson, Adrienne Walker and Kevin Hewitt. (Photo: iQuest)

Branach Developments sales and acquisitions manager Ciara Byrne said that she and her colleagues were “pleasantly surprised” to win the award.

“We are a young business and winning the award is a real validation of what we are doing. It shows that we are doing something right and that people can see that.

Our business model is based around picking derelict houses that were BER exempt and then renovating and extending them. All of the properties are brought to the market in turn-key condition and with a BER rating of at least A3.

The high BER rating means that the homeowner will qualify for a green mortgage, which means that they will not only get to benefit from a lower fixed interest rate, but also lower energy bills.”

“That’s one of the things that the judges were really impressed with: at a time when the country is experiencing the worst housing crisis in its history, we are not only taking derelict properties and bringing them back to life, we are also finishing the homes to a high eco standard too.”

Ciara says that much of her working week is spent on the roads of the Midlands and neighbouring counties trying to identify suitable derelict properties that can be transformed into modern three-bed modern homes.

“It’s been estimated that there are more than 65,000 derelict properties across the country. They’re in little fields and down back roads; you wouldn’t even notice them unless you looked in through bushes and see their roofs. I am the woman that goes around and fishes them all out (laughs).”

When Ciara identifies suitable properties, she will get in contact with the owners to see if they would consider selling to Branach. Often, they are surprised that anyone would be interested in buying houses that in many cases have been unoccupied for decades and are derelict.

“You wouldn’t believe the number of people who said that they had forgotten they had the house. They may have inherited it years and years ago and now it’s a shell and they don’t think anything of it. When they receive our letter in the post, it gives them real food for thought.”

“When it comes to the properties, in many ways the worse the condition, the better, because we gut them and completely renovate them. If people are like ‘Oh my god, the house is falling apart,’ this is what we’re looking for, so it’s not a problem.”

The average price of a Branach property is €295,000, which in today’s market is competitive. Ciara says it is important to the firm that would-be homeowners feel that they are getting good value for their investments.

“Our houses are affordable when you look at the wider property market. You are getting a lot for that. You are getting a three-bed detached house in turn-key condition in a beautiful part of the country, which also has a very high BER rating. You wouldn’t get a shoebox in Dublin for that.”

“Also, we only look for properties that are on sizeable plots. Most of our houses come with an acre, or so. Half an acre is the smallest we’ll go, and up to two acres is the maximum. You have this gorgeous house and then you have a lot of green space around it.

We just do a bit of basic landscaping with the garden. We also sow some wildflowers to encourage biodiversity and every house comes with a hedgehog hotel. That was my idea (laughs). We decided to introduce hedgehog hotels because hedgehog is a native species under threat.”

Although buyers can avail of green mortgages when they purchase Branach Development’s properties, they cannot apply for the Help To Buy Scheme as they are not new builds.

Ciara says the firm receives a lot of inquiries from people looking to move back to their home areas after spending time abroad or living in Dublin. “When a derelict property is brought back to life by Branach, it generates a lot of positive interest in the community,” she says.

“Communities love it when a property is brought back to life and nine times out of 10, the person who buys the house knows the previous owner.”

Passionate about bringing properties back to life and helping revitalise rural communities in a sustainable way, Ciara says Branach are always on the lookout for derelict houses in the Midlands and neighbouring counties.

“If you own a derelict house and are interested in selling, we’d love to have a chat with you. We are fully funded and can make you an offer on the same day as viewing your property. Confidentiality on all transactions with our clients is paramount to us and once the price is agreed, we will close the sale as soon as possible.”

Contact Ciara on: 087 9296926 or email: