House of the week: Clock ticks down for Douglas bungalow

THERE’S a clock ticking in the background of this bungalow home called Vermar.

And, no, it’s not the rather elegant grandfather clock in the hall: its hands are motionless, the brass weights are as equally still, and the silence is ominous, weighty.

No, the clock ticking in the background is one most likely running outfor the modest-sized c 1,200 sq ft house itself, as it comes to market as an executor sale, guiding at €475,000 by Cian O’Donoghue and Trish Stokes of Lisney, essentially pitched as a site of 0.3 of an acre, for a replacement dwelling.

The reason for the relative certainty that Vermar’s days are numbered comes from the address: it’s Woodview, Douglas, and it’s also the Well Road, by the roundabout.

Bundling up all the consonants at the back end of the alphabet, Vermar/Woodview/Well Road is as genteel a suburban address as any aspiring Cork home hunter might aim for.

About 100 metres away on Woodview, behind a high wall, one of Cork’s largest suburban homes has just wrapped up construction on a whopper. Called Curraghbeg, it’s about 12,000 sq ft, on three levels and replaces an 1920s original, on a precious 1.5 acres which sold in 2015 for a whopping €2.4m, only to be demolished.

And, just 200 metres off in the opposite direction from Vermar, along the Well Road, the finishing touches are finally being put to the four new builds at developer Rockforest’s Greenbanks development of detacheds, selling at €850,000 to €1m, and with the best site there as-yet undeveloped, right by the Douglas estuary. Curiously, the original pale, almost chalky brown stone used on the four builds is currently being replaced with far more aesthetic limestone, a move apparently initiated by the individual buyers themselves at Greenbanks, which once housed a former home of the late Rory Gallagher’s mother Monica, which was demolished.

Next door to Greenbanks, there are offers from €700,000 up to €800,000 current on the 2,200 sq ft detached called Randal, on 0.75 of an acre on the Well Road, via Timothy Sullivan who launched that one-off at €950,000: the current price differential on Randal is from bidders buying ‘as-is,’ and those who’donly buy subject to planning for replacement, or even low-density development of a couple of houses.

Elsewhere, the knock and rebuild ratio is probably running at 50:50 when smaller and older homes on prized sites crop up, that’s been the case here along the Well Road (most unusually, a period Edwardian home has even had a new-build constructed in its front garden,) in Woodview itself, in adjacent Hettyfield and the like, so that’s why Vermar’s futuremust be in some doubt.

A well-kept, but older style house dating to the 1980s if not earlier, it has three bedrooms, two reception rooms, one with electric fire, kitchen and bathroom, while an attached side garage can be accessed off the kitchen, and is plumbed, with power supply.

It gets its €475k valuation in the main, so thanks to it site and setting, and may well indeed go over that. The past several years have seen those looking to build an efficient, large A-rated home willing to pay up to and over €500,0000 for a site and a chance to build in suburbs like Douglas and especially Blackrock, even for ‘back garden’ sites. The fact that there’s an existing dwelling here should give comfort to bidders who’d seek to replace it, says Lisney’s Trish Stokes.

Yet, there’s a possibility too that Vermar could survive in some shape or form, and be added to, and there’s clearly scope to build on to the sides, front or back.

But, with builders increasingly hard to get, and skilled labour prices and tenders skyrocketing, as well as banks currently being cautious to lend for building projects, there’s also a comfort in knowing that at least once bought, there’s a home here still with core, tangible value.

Lisney’s Cian O’Donoghue expects interest too from those who’d keep the house, and maybe plan a longer term project: “you could just put ‘lipstick’ on it, and move in,” he observes.

VERDICT: tick, tock, tick talk.

Woodview, Douglas Cork

€475,000

Size: 111. sq m (1,195 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 1

BER: E1

Best Feature: Location

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