Ballinlough, Cork €295,000
Best Feature: All done up to the nines
f you are the sort of person susceptible to ‘ear-worms,’ those pesky lines of songs that stick in your head, then turn away now, because here’s one that’s going to prove sticky: ‘Somerton, and the living is eeeeasy....”
In place of ‘Summertime’ in that song, comes Cork’s No 43, Somerton Park, a done-up three-bed suburban Ballinlough semi-d with not a jot or a job left to do, but to move on in - in complete contrast to how it was back in late 2011, when it was last up for sale.
The modest-sized 1,000 sq ft corner sited home hit these pages in late 2011, back then as a typical do-er upper, in quite a basic original state, but with full planning permission for a two-storey addition which it was fully expected would be the first thing tacked on by any new occupants..
Not so, though. Instead, the young couple who bought No 43, with one child in tow, did a comprehensive, top-to-toe upgrade of the building, its fabric, its finishes, its gardens, with an amount of elan, but opted not to bolt on the permitted two-storey addition.
Perhaps they should have? as now with a second child on the way, they are on the move, having bought once more in another of Cork’s older southside suburbs, and are rolling up their makeover sleeves once more (in fact, they admit to having done a few smart do-up property investments with some partners, while the market languished in the doldrums, but this one was done as their own family home.)
In any case, No 43 has served them well over the last few years, and vice versa: they’ve put a firm modern stamp on it, vastly improved its comforts and energy efficiency so that now it hits a particularly decent B3 BER, and they won’t have lost a penny on the job either. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The price register shows No 43 sold a couple of years ago at the market’s trough, and they picked it up for €135,000, before starting to spend generously on it.
Now, it’s on the market this July guiding €295,000 with the same selling agent Jeremy Murphy as three or four years ago, and is likely to go handily over the €300,000 mark for its vendors, thanks to their sterling (euro) input, and a much improved market.
New owners still have the option to extend, and just across the road a neighbour’s house shows one approach with Rationel windows and a matching, cedar-clad wing, but perhaps most viewing and bidding interest now will come from a cross-section who’ll like it as it is, and won’t feel the need to add on more space.
That mix of viewers is likely to include singles, couples and traders-in from outlying locations, as well as traders down.
The immediate hinterland (where there’s a very fast turnover of stock and a good supply as the mid-1900s-established suburbs is naturally ageing and evolving) has great services, and city proximity, with good parks, playgrounds, amenities schools, sports facilities and the family-owned and noted foodie-friendly JJ O’Driscolls supermarket is just along the Ballinlough road from this corner site, as is the Orchard Bar.
No 43’s aspect is good, with a south-west facing back garden - the house’s gable and back pretty much gets sun all day long.
The owners say they have their passive-standard cream pvc sash windows (from the Classic Windows EuroSash range) left ajar most of the time, just to keep the place cool. And, several of them look pretty cool too, with plantation shutters giving them a quality visual uplift.
There are lots of lessons here for those in the market for, or already living in, a standard-sized semi such as this. First up, not every 1,000 sq ft home needs to be extended, or opened up front to back, once storage is built-in and cleverly sited: No 43 has some very knacky niches sliding out under the stairs, though it means no chance of an understairs loo.
In this case, no major internal knocking through was done, bar linking the original galley kitchen into the back reception room with a steel RSJ taking up the load burden, to make for a bright, modern kitchen/diner, with space now for a table and seating, and a high, stepped breakfast bar. There’s back garden access via French doors, while the original back door is now a floor-to-ceiling window, a simple and savvy solution to working with the existing opes.
Handily, because there was an existing block-built garden shed/outhouse, the house’s refurb suggested making a utility/laundry/store out of this space, so the noisy machines are out of earshot (but, a short dash across a patio on a wet day) and the shed was funked up a little by the insertion of tall slits of blue glass blocks from Northside Glass; , and, the garden has had every square inch tweaked too.
There’s a water feature or small cascade from a liscannor stone base, raised beds for shrubs, bamboos, fatsias and more around the rear perimeter, and hard landscaping that’s a good mix of sandstone and limestone. Plus, there’s a tiny, rug-sized triangle of grass for tradition’s sake, an easy-trim job even with a hand shears.
Back in the main house, insulation has gone in under floors (100mm), walls (85mm shelterboard) and the attic (with Stira access) is blanketed in layers of rockwool, all helping get to the coveted B3 BER - a surprising achievement given there two open fireplaces, and no renewable energy sources. Heating is gas-fired, and zoned.
Floors are finished with anti-scratch QuickStep boards in a grey timber hues, and the kitchen units are painted shades of grey, with granite around the six-burner hob, with a sink in the breakfast island.
Overall, No 43 feels bigger than its actual 93 sq m size, though individual rooms are necessarily of a quite modest scale, and there’s only one bathroom serving occupants and visitors alike.
Out front, there’s plenty of car parking inside the house’s new gates on a gravel drive, thanks to the corner site, and unless new owners choose to act on the still-current planning for an extension on the side, there’s more outdoor space to the front than the back, which is relatively overlooked by some of its neighbours.
Great goods in a compact, rewrapped parcel. With a steady supply of older homes coming to market in this network of mid 1900s estates, No 43 stands out as an example of a home that was happy not to get the extensionitis bug. It might fall prone to it yet.