Living in Harmony: A smart one-off family home with a unique intergenerational link

Tommy Barker takes a leisurely wander around a smart one-off family home with a unique intergenerational link

    Price: €650,000
    Size: 247 sq m (2,650 sq ft)
    Bedrooms: 5
    Bathrooms: 4
    BER: B2

THERE’S an intergenerational family link to the delivery of this one-off, superbly comfortable family home, appropriately called Harmony, on its grounds on Cork city’s suburban Skehard Road.

The young family that built it, and who were instrumental in its design and high-grade specification, had been happily living in East Cork’s harbour area around Aghada, with scarcely a thought of uprooting: even that house was called Harmony and, one suspects, their next one will be so called also.

But it was the persistence of one of the couple’s grandmothers, who regularly asked why they wouldn’t build in her side/rear garden which finally paid off, and happily so about a decade ago.

That site (and additional lands beyond) had been used for decades, as a market garden and even with livestock, by the hard-working and industrious woman, Mrs Ellen Finnegan. She was one of Skehard Road’s longest serving residents who died recently aged in her mid 90s and whose tiny, semi-detached 19th century cottage still stands proudly, and even harmoniously, alongside Harmony, old and new, little and large, almost cheek by jowl.

Having the blessing of the site from a granny, the couple who are into their design had initially aimed for a Swedish or even German style of build. But, planners were reluctant to go along with those first thoughts, so its Scandinavian and Continental influences are more muted, but tangible nonetheless, especially inside.

This is a sizeable, adaptable and highly energy efficient and comfortable one-off home of 2,650 sq ft, spread over three levels and is lifestyle and life-span adaptable.

Only mildly disappointing is the fact this late 2000s’ detached build ‘only’ gets a B2 BER, and that’s mainly due to some of the immutable peculiarities of the energy rating criteria.

Other than that, this is a block-encased, smooth and painted render timber frame home, with its frame done by the well-regarded Cygnum company near Macroom, with Swedish triple glazed windows, and high air tightness levels.

It gets its aspect right, with south-west large glazed sections to the rear where there’s a tiered and raised patio and garden, and has a very spacious kitchen/dining living room, with a Scandinavian Contura A multi-fuel stove at the far corner from the kitchen, perhaps at a 30’ remove.

A second, similar stove is placed in the separate living room/play room, effectively a multi-purpose sunken lounge, down about five steps from the main entry hall at the house’s gable end, overlooking off-street parking and the just widened and upgraded Skehard Road. It’s notable from the road, by the entrance to Park Hill, as this external end is clad in sheeted cedar, sort of a vogue par with the timing of the Brickfields development up the hill, a mixed house and apartment scheme which partially overlooks the Douglas estuary.

Estate agent Kevin Barry of Barry Auctioneers is selling Harmony, and he guides the walk-in condition home on its own screened site, with off-street parking and ring-around gardens at €650,000. It could as readily be a trade-down home as a trade up one.

It has both steps and ramp access to its porch and front door, with a welcoming hall, an extra wide staircase, large landing above and feature open tread chrome and timber spiral stairs to an attic level, where there’s a bedroom (teenage children will love its seclusion) with dual Veluxes, one above the other, a large shower room, and storage aplenty.

On its mid level are four bedrooms, three in one end including en suite master bedroom with walk-in robes, and there’s one other at a slightly lower level and remove — again, ideal for families that want relative privacy across the generations, or have snorers.

It’s all very well conceived and delivered, and airy.

At ground, then, it’s really all about the 30’ by nearly 20’ wide (at the kitchen end) kitchen/living room. It’s your classic contemporary open plan living, but well backed up by hall, second reception/den/play room, guest WC.

Evidence of really thinking things through are in examples like having the integrated dishwasher in the German gloss kitchen at a bit of an extra height for easy loading and unloading, and having the walls between the kitchen/living room and the side utility sound-proofed so as not to be distracted by washing machines and driers, etc.

Also tech-savvy or eco-kind are things like the mechanical air ventilation, with Vallox 95 heat exchangers, while insulation is 200mm of pumped cellulose in the timber frames, with Rockwoll between 25mm batons between the main build and step-down ‘annex’. Airtightness membrane is via a ISOVER Vario System, and windows are Monkfonster, triple glazed with an oil finish, sourced through Cork-based Margaret Sheeran of the Swedish Trade Centre.

The couple opted not to go for underfloor heating, choosing rads, and their home’s main living room has solid oak floor with quality European sourced laminate elsewhere, which when combined with their fire-rated imported internal doors and architraves, give quite a different internal feel to this efficient and effective one-off build, described by auctioneer Kevin Barry as “one of a kind”.

Externally, it’s all fresh as a daisy also, with front drive, side garden and tiered rear garden and patio, ringed with a cream-coloured high tensile ‘zincalume’ steel fencing, which came with a 25-year guarantee and needs just a wash a year to keep it all fresh-faced in the damp Irish clime.

The sale also include a timber store, 13’ trampoline and a Biohort Austrian hot-dipped galvanised steel gently rotting, unharmonious shed woes here.

VERDICT: B2 BER rated, healthy air recirculating home’s a design breath of fresh air too.

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