Keep up with the neighbours

Tommy Barker says the house next door shows buyers what’s possible.

OK, buy here and you’ll have to keep up with neighbours to some extent at least.

In a fairly novel bit of marketing, the photos you see here are of the house next door. This is how your new buy could look, but feel free to alter and change the finishes and furniture style to your own taste.

John Hanlon of Foxwood Developments has built two contemporary-styled, glass and wood box houses, split-level style and with living quarters at Upper Ardmore, on the Rochestown Monastery side approach into Passage West, high above Cork harbour with a vista that literally hoves into view.

Planning was approved (subject to appeals) in the past few weeks for a €250 million Howard Holdings’ development in the harbour town. This has the potential to transform it utterly, and already its fortunes are changing. Houses in the €1m-€2m category have snuck into some of Passage’s best settings on the hillside and at Horsehead.

One of this side-by-side duo was moved in to recently. It is seen here in its finished glory, but the other is very close to completion. The builder got on so well with the buyers of house one that they will allow prospective buyers next door to walk through their home to see what the living environment is like and to sample the views.

The 3,500 sq ft Grand Designs house for sale is guided at €1.15m by estate agent Stephen Clarke of O’Donoghue Clarke auctioneers, who has himself built a contemporary home in recent years and who knows the graft that goes into materials and finishing at this level. He’s seriously impressed, and not just for the sake of a sale.

(The Hanlon family had planned to sell the sites with planning in place in April 2007, guiding €550,000 per site, but later built them out instead. The sale asking price indicates a development cost at about €160 per square foot at that site value.)

It isn’t even all about the views, though the house has a panorama beneath it and has been oriented to max it out. The build and finish quality is high, and there’s lots of bright, open space, especially on the upper level, where the living will be done.

Designed by Yelland Architects, they are set at the top portion of sites that are just under half an acre each, with cobbled drives and good parking right up to the front doors. Then, the houses stretch out in a rectangle about 70’, with stone, render and cedar finishes, ending with large glazed balconies.

The upside-down and largely open-plan layout means a massive sense of airiness and all-togetherness; it clearly works in the finished house, where there are several young boys of different ages (it probably works so well as there’s a ground floor den with patio access, which can be ceded to the younger, noisier cohort.)

Apart from the awe-inspiring main living space, the upper level has a guest WC, utility room with side garden access, and an en suite bedroom with views.

Down below, two of the other four bedrooms are en suite, and the main bedroom is a real master suite, with a wall of glass/sliding doors for the view and shelter under the overhead balcony. There’s also a dressing area, seating area and good bathroom.

Also here is a big step-in hot press and a main family bathroom, darkly tiled in this instance; after 16 house moves, the owner has earned the confidence to go bold.

In all, these houses stretch to 3,500 sq ft of internal space, plus balconies, while the specification is high. They have gas for cooking and heating, as well as a very high level of insulation. From sunrise on, heat is solar-gained. Expect low energy bills.

The house left for sale will have the same oak floors, joinery, and stairs. The windows are a different colour, but it has similar recessed lighting. The bathrooms will be kitted out and fully tiled, with pressurised showers and underfloor heating at both levels. A choice of kitchen will be left to the buyer, and a €30,000 sum will be allowed for this. The kitchen seen here is the Italian brand Scavolini, if you want to push the budget a bit further and sort of follow suit.

Otherwise the layout is almost identical, with just small tweaks to account for the fact that its views will be slightly different. Just to the left hand side of the one that is being sold, for example, are pure green fields of pasture. Gardens slope down and away from these houses and its terraces/patios, and keeping the 0.48-acre in shape will keep you fit. Wildflower meadow, anyone?


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