Big Brother house

THE days of the ‘free gaff’ are over — at least for parents who buy into Mitchell’s Court in Kerry Pike, Co Cork.

Houses in the new development can be supplied with an Intellihome system, the domestic equivalent of Big Brother.

Using a 3G phone, you can, while away, log on and view any room in the house, turn off/on the lights, check the heating and have a panoramic view of conditions.

In fact, you can zoom in and check if dishes are left in the sink, if the car is still in the drive and if there is anything other than gnomes in the garden.

Should anything untoward happen, the system can notify the owner and present images.

The house also has a centralised TV system that gives access from one source to all rooms — so the same DVD can be watched upstairs and down, as can Sky or any other carrier. Wireless broadband is also part of the basic fit-out, along with plug-ins for iPods/ TVs in each room. A Bose Lifestyle system is standard and the package includes 46” and 32” Sony screens with flush fitted speakers.

Buyers can choose to fit up or down the electronic spectrum and the builders, David and John Coleman, known as D&J Builders, are quite flexible in their approach.

For instance, the lowest basic price is €673,000 for a four-bed detached of 218sq m. Add in all the extras and that comes to €765,000, but includes the full IT system, Coolmore kitchens, Villeroy and Bosch sanitary ware, Miele appliances, carpets, oak flooring and a full paint job.

Pare the house back to the minimum and a buyer gets a fully finished house, fully landscaped garden and driveway and can decide on the rest of the fittings to their own taste.

Otherwise, it is possible to toggle up and down the spec and all is broken down into tidy, price-brackets.

Buying the largest site and largest house without full fit-out will cost €835,000, so there is a broad spectrum from which to choose.

Two years ago, these houses would have cost well in excess of €1 million, and at today’s rates, they have built-in capital appreciation potential.

On a par with Hayfield on the Model Farm Road and Heatherfield, in Waterfall, these houses are priced far lower than the resale level for those established, west-city estates.

Demand will come from the same quarter: professionals working in the major institutions to the west of the city and those trading up and out of the general area.

Kerry Pike is five minutes from Sunday’s Well and 10 minutes from the city centre in good traffic. Ballincollig and its new town centre is a quick spin away.

The proposed North Ring Road will pass close, but not too close, to the village and, as it completes the city’s outer route, will add to the accessibility of this green belt area.

The beauty of the surrounding valleys and their protection under the County Development Plan means that the rural ambience will remain unimpaired in the long term.

There are other plans in the pipeline for Kerry Pike, but development will happen on the school side of the hamlet, where 11 acres is earmarked for village development. This will includes a neighbourhood centre, something lacking since the village post office and shop closed down in the 1990s.

With just 33 houses on offer, and centred around a safe green area, Mitchell’s Court is ideal for families of all ages. The national school is a walk away and there are good secondary schools within a short distance.

The house types vary and there is considerable choice, unlike the predictability and repetition of other estates.

The major attraction is the amount of living space: each unit includes two to three living rooms, with conservatory and large kitchen/diners, with utilities.

The sale also includes quirky, block-built sheds which come ready to function as laundry rooms.

The largest, the A-type, is the only house with a fifth bedroom, with this on the ground floor.

This is the furnished showhouse and a walk around gives a good feel for the quality of finish, of which the Colemans are very proud. This estate is their baby and they show it off with relish.

Block built, the insulation is blown-beading in the inner leaf, and there’s an extra layer of insulation on the interior walls. This brings the houses 20% above regulation standard, says Jim Coleman, and the inclusion of a concrete floor system increases insulation values and decreases sound transfer. It also allows the use of underfloor heating from top to bottom and each room is thermostatically controlled.

A mix of lush pile carpets and natural Irish oak flooring is used in the showhouse and the banisters are in the same material with painted, teak risers.

The front door case is hand-made and the stone work, particularly in arches and entrance steps, is home-sourced and top class.

Skirting is extra high and architraves are wide, while doors are in native oak. Handles and switches are in brushed steel.

With black bog-oak windows, (as they are described), Kenmare stone facade and natural slate roof, the Mitchell’s Court houses have an organic quality that makes them blend in nicely with their surroundings.

Right now, half the scheme is almost complete and viewers can get a feel of the layout at the opening times today and tomorrow between 2pm and 5pm.

The joint agents for the scheme are Countrywide Homes and Irish and European.

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