Architect to sell his renovated home for chance to self-build from scratch

Architect to sell his renovated home for chance to self-build from scratch
Pics: Jed Niezgoda

With some sorrow, architect Karl Diskin is putting his beloved and unique home at No 6 Maryville up on the market. He has found an opportunity for a new-build that he cannot pass up. Let’s see what makes No 6 Maryville special, writes Catherine Shanahan.

Any self-respecting architect would jump at the chance to self-build their own design, so despite having poured a lot of love into his current home at 6 Maryville, Karl Diskin is fired up for the challenge.

“We are very proud of the house and love living here, however we now have the opportunity to do a new-build that is too good to turn down.

“So not without a certain pang, we are bringing the house to market,” he says.

Mr Diskin’s loss will be some other home-buyer’s gain, just as it was 6 Maryville’s gain that market conditions meant Mr Diskin had come through architecture school in Glasgow and London before he could really tackle its transformation into the enviably chic and beautifully laid out family home that it now is.

It’s unrecognisable from the property that Mr Diskin first clapped eyes on in 2007.

“The house was decrepit when I bought it but I loved the location and could see the potential.

Architect to sell his renovated home for chance to self-build from scratch

“I had grown up in the city centre my whole life and attended Christians on Sydney Hill, so although my family had since sold up and moved to the suburbs, I was still attracted to living in the thick of things.

“With all the bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops on my doorstep - it is what I knew and loved, then and now still,” he says.

Mr Diskin bought the house in 2007 and as he was studying in Glasgow at the time, the plan was to rent it out for a couple of years while he finished his studies, before returning to Cork to live.

The plan was revised when the financial crisis hit and the property bubble burst. So began a decade or more as an ‘accidental landlord’. With no job prospects for architects in Ireland, Mr Diskin remained abroad, working and studying between Glasgow, Melbourne, and London.

By 2016 with architectural qualifications under his belt and the construction industry in Ireland on the up, plans were hatched to return home. “Finally the dream in 2007 was becoming a reality a decade later,” Mr Diskin says.

For the bones of eight months they did marathon work, including laying insulated ground floor slabs underfoot, as well as insulating the inside face of all external walls, insulating the attic, re-doing the roof, and replacing the windows. A new high-efficiency gas boiler was installed along with modern central heating, achieving a C1 energy rating, not a bad result for a house that dates to 1870.

Architect to sell his renovated home for chance to self-build from scratch

They also knocked two existing flat roof extensions to the rear and rebuilt one of them, which now houses the utility and downstairs shower room.

They rebuilt the chimney stacks, cleaned them out and lined the flues to create working fireplaces again. Then, they reorganised the house plan, taking out three walls downstairs and one upstairs to open the place up.

The house was replumbed, re-plastered, and rewired, all the cables and wires were removed from the facades and fibre optic broadband was integrated into the home.

A new kitchen and new bathroom suites were installed, and fireplaces were replaced with antiques of a similar age to the house.

Externally, the old pebble dash cement render was replaced with traditional lime render “which allows the walls to breathe”, Mr Diskin says.

They paved the back courtyard with limestone flags and replaced a window overlooking the courtyard with a clear glass door, with another clear glass door at the back of the hall to allow maximum light in.

Architect to sell his renovated home for chance to self-build from scratch

Finally, in June 2018, they moved in, just in time for the arrival in July of their baby daughter.

Today No 6 is in ship-shape order and comes with two parking spaces to boot, a welcome plus for a terraced house fronting out onto a main road. The Diskins got permission to widen the pedestrian entrance gate and laid a cobble lock driveway that can fit two cars. They then rebuilt the garden party walls and planted flower beds.

Out the back, the planting is especially lovely, capitalising on the nooks and crannies of a lovely old wall.

Auctioneer Jim Coughlan of James G Coughlan says No 6 is fairly unique in that it offers both convenience (a five minute walk to the city centre) and a high quality finish.

“It might sound like a blasé thing to say, but the two don’t always come together. They do here.” “In any given year, 90% of the homes we handle would lack either convenience or a quality finish,” Mr Coughlan says.

The quality starts inside the front door where eye-catching Victorian-style tiles delineate the hallway in the open plan layout that contains the kitchen and dining room. At the end of the kitchen is a utility room and a shower room.

Architect to sell his renovated home for chance to self-build from scratch

On the opposite side of the bright open hallway is a striking royal blue lounge, where a door was taken out to accommodate a fantastically expansive “Sentosa” L-shaped corner sofa.

Upstairs is the main bathroom and three bedrooms. There were four, which explains the two separate doors into the master bedroom.

There’s also a “full head-height attic” with a Stira already in place.

No 6 Maryville, the finished product, is such that you “recognise the value of an architect,” estate agent Jim Coughlan states.

He believes it will appeal to two distinct categories of buyer: People looking to retire to the city (it’s ideal for them he says) “or professional couples in up-market apartments like the Elysian”.

Its location means it’s well positioned to benefit from the ongoing development of the south docklands and it’s also close to UCC’s recently opened Centre for Executive Education in Parnell Place.

In addition, UCC is about to appoint a design team for the construction on the nearby South Terrace of the Cork University Business School which will bring 4,000 students into the city centre.

Architect to sell his renovated home for chance to self-build from scratch

As well as proximity to third-level education, there’s an abundance of créches, primary schools, and secondary schools nearby, with St John’s playschool and St Kevin’s primary school a one-minute walk away.

For anyone with kids, Shalom Park, with its swings and slide, is less than a 10-minute stroll. There is also plenty of retail to choose from — either the city centre, Douglas Street, or Douglas village, which is a five-minute drive away.

For your healthcare needs, there’s a hospital on the doorstep of Maryville — the South Infirmary University VictoriaHospital — and Langford Medical Centre is just minutes away.

Maryville is ideally locally for socialising, close to the increasingly revitalised Douglas Street and Barrack Street areas where a variety of popular eateries and watering holes are within easy striking distance.

Given its many attractions, Mr Coughlan is not surprised that interest in the house is strong, despite the turmoil caused by the coronavirus.

Mr Diskin will be sorry to see it go. While he’s relishing the challenge of the self-build to come, he is wistfully waving goodbye to his pet project — part of his life since he was 20 — and the convenience of city-centre living.

“I will still be working in the city centre and coming in and out the Douglas Road,passing the house each day, so I just hope now that the new owners look after the place and take as much care with the house as we have done,” he says.

VERDICT: The ultimate in urban living.

  • Southern Road, Cork city
  • €385,000
  • Size: 116 sq m (1,248 sq ft)
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • BER: C1

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