House of the week: Waterfall, Cork €605,000/€635,000

The mild winter which has just ended has helped in the ahead-of schedule delivery of these long-awaited NAMA €600,000-plus house sales at Cork’s very upmarket Earls Well scheme at Waterfall. 

Size: 2,300 to 2,800 sq ft

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 4

BER: A3

Best Feature: Top homes

And, it is a project where the first of these still-contemporary builds which commenced almost a decade ago has also managed to weather an incredible economic maelstrom.

Earls Well, with 42 large homes planned on 30 acres west of Cork city, was conceived of by Fleming Construction to snuggle up to their previous Heatherfield development a decade ago... as the market dipped. 

The first four of these O’Mahony Pike Architects’ designs launched in 2009 when the ‘sunshine’ hopes of the builders Flemings for €1m plus sales of each home had well and truly set.

The completed 2009 builds, including two showhomes, sat unsold on their decent-sized sites until last year, when four were sold in 2016, at prices from €730,000 up to €900,000. 

But those ‘sold’ sums included two slick, fully-furnished showhouses, and all four had detached, block-built garages with mezzanines: at 1,340 sq ft, the garages alone were bigger than most family homes.

Now, brand new ‘out of the box’ Earls Well homes (without the sizeable garages) are coming to market in a drive-to-complete being spearheaded by NAMA.

Five will be released on Monday via Lawrence Sweeney and Catherine McAuliffe of Savills, who are simultaneously releasing five other new-builds also for NAMA at Douglas’s Maryborough Ridge — see p10 for more details about them.

Here at Waterfall’s Earls Well, less than a ten-minute car spin from the Bishopstown roundabout and ring road, the scheme is demarcated by individual large sites of between one-third of an acre to a half an acre per home, and sizes across the three types launched are 2,300 sq ft, 2, 556 sq ft, and 2,800 sq ft.

Autumn’s the target completion date, and 12 more will follow in a second phase in early 2018.

Given that there’s several dozen more Earls Well houses to be built and sold over the next few years, deciding on pricing this first five was also possibly a matter of ‘managing expectations,’ across a diverse spectrum, for the would-be buyers, for receivers RSM Ireland, and for NAMA.

Bluebroe Ltd are project managers (and are also at Hazel Hill, Douglas) while the contractor tasked with building the houses at Earls Well is Townmore Construction, who are based in Offaly.

The location, whilst in a ‘rural settlement village’, is now mixed in terms of locals, long-rooted Waterfall ‘traders-out’ and blow-ins. Given the proximity to the CUH for consultants on call, to UCC, CIT, and to the Bon Secours, medics and academics had led the charge to Heatherfield in the 2000s, and will do the same at Earls Well over the next several years.

The 0.3/0.5 acre sites are an attraction for active families, and even though the cost of providing large garages would have driven costs over €700,000 per purchase, at least buyers will get the consolation prize of a shed. All the sites will still have ample room for those who want to build garages at more modest sizes or costs, now or later on when bank balances right themselves some bit.

To secure any of the five, buyers will need a €15,000 deposit on Monday and proof of funds to complete a sale. 

“There’s also very good interest from buyers living abroad who intend to buy their ideal house now and move back in the future, with particular interest from the UK, US and mainland Europe,” says Lawrence Sweeney of Savills.

Dividing lines are old-style boundary ditches (the scheme from day one had an elaborate landscaping plan), and grounds will have sandstone paved patios and terraces, stone wall entrance pillars and electric access gates.

Homes will have an A3 BER, air-to-water electric heat pump system and high insulation standards, with 10-year structural guarantees. There are PC sums of €20,000/€25,000 per house for kitchens, built-ins and two stoves per house.

VERDICT: The take-up of homes here will be keenly watched by competing developers on all other up-market sites west of Cork city and suburbs.

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