A job move to Dublin means that Inis, a recently extended and upgraded detached home at the city end of Cork’s Blackrock Road, comes to market as a redone domestic revival.
In walk-in condition, it’s also a walk-in proposition for anyone working in the city centre, with City Hall a 10 minute stroll - as will be the swiftly progressing One Albert Quay’s new 175,000 sq ft office block by the Elysian, set to house 1,400 jobs on Leeside by next spring.
If a bellweather were called for, for the long-awaited turnaround in the country’s shaken fortunes and employment stakes, One Albert Quay is probably it. It is due to be fully let when its rapid-fired construction is completed in the New Year, and already Tyco is fitting out its new suites there around the building’s glassy atrium.
The young couple now selling Inis have seen the downs and ups of the past few years in the home economy. Having lived and travelled widely before settling down to start a family, they returned eight years ago from Barcelona at property market peak.
“The bank offered us a 100% mortgage for €500,000, and we had no track record here at all. But, fortunately it just didn’t seem right and thankfully we held off as prices started to plummet,” say one of the owners, who instead sat out the lean years renting in nearby convenient Ballinlough.
In that interim, they worked and started a family moving into Inis, in spring 2013. They now seem still quite unfazed by the hurdles, or by the prospect of now having to rent in Dublin and do the process all over again.
“My husband spotted it, back when the market was still quite weak and it was he that saw the potential in it”, says the now departing woman of the house. Having drafted in an architect, Louise Sliney, she got to relish the renovation job once it got going, utilising her own professional skills in ‘Six Sigma,’ a quality delivery process used in industrial and other workplaces, to deliver a quality result.
Her other skills in e-commerce saw a job beckon in E-Bay, hence a move to Dublin this month, and her partner also is making a similar jobs transfer. He’s a professional chef, who’s worked with Aiken Promotions and now with MCD in ’big gig’ catering, along with private contracts.
So, knowing that, viewings by prospective new occupants of Inis might well radiate out of the kitchen area, the heart of any home.
Here, the kitchen’s a former show unit sourced and adapted by high-end supplier David Kiely in Carrigaline, all contemporary and sleek and with white Silestone quartz tops, recessed white sink, and plain white metro tiles as splashback.
When Inis was last offered for sale, nearly three years ago via agents Marshs, it was a well-kept but dated detached four-bed home owned by a single, older woman.
Full of promise then, and with original features that included a terrazzo hall floor, it was on a wedge-shaped site, built as part of the mid 1900s Marina Park scheme, but set on the main Blackrock Road.
It’s right by the traffic light junction near Ashton school and the Old Blackrock Road. Passersby and those delayed by the traffic lights might have noticed the work going on, on a seemingly modest scale, a couple of years back (the front wall was also raised a few block courses in height, and dashed and painted to blend it all back in) but the attraction of its rear extension may well have gone unnoticed. Until now.
Inis comes to market in late October, guided at €475,000 by estate agent Kevin Barry who’s had a first run of viewings, and the pace is now set to pick up, despite a bit of a late autumn lull in the market.
Keys to its appeal are the location so close to town, its detached status, and the fact that so much work has been done to it: it also gets a high, B3 BER approval, thanks to its high insulation standards, a new gas boiler, and other investments.
Bay windows to the front are triple glazed, others are double glazed, and behind, the added-on single level extension has floor to ceiling glass, bathing the rear in light and effectively drawing in extra heat from solar gain.
The BER’s surprisingly good given there are no renewable energy sources such as solar, and the bay-windowed front room has an open fire, for real hearth-warming heat, in a tall, age-appropriate, cast iron fire surround, sourced by Inis’s owners, who say they rarely turn on any heat as their home is generally so warm.
“We never thought we’d be selling, we did it as a home for ourselves,” they say as they now start the process of boxing up after just a few short years of enjoyment.
Budget was a concern when working on the house’s upgrade, and they also were very respectful of the neighbours who they say gave them a great welcome to the area. As the added on rear box extension is under 400 sq ft, they didn’t have to go for planning, and it was built to allow for a second level to be added on at some future time. Right now, though, the flat membrane roof hosts a roof light or Velux, making it extra-bright despite a general northerly aspect, and it also get lots of western light from two lofty, vertical windows.
The couple pay credit to architect Louse Sliney for its smooth delivery. Ms Sliney was the RIAI southern region’s chairperson last year, and also heads the body’s Small Practice Forum, as well as being a certified Passive House designer. “We were first time buyers,
very unfamiliar with tendering or details required for a successful build,” they recall, admiring her attention to detail, liaising with the build crew and “she always kept a close eye on the budget which was very important to us.”
After the add-on, there’s now 1,430 sq ft here, with a very practical open-plan rear layout of kitchen, family room and dining, with a more formal front room accessed, or compartmentalised off, via sliding doors from the rest of the ground level.
The carpenter on the job recommended putting in a false wall to allow the new, glazed double doors slide almost out of sight, and it’s a suggestion that works out really well, allowing useful wall space in rooms either side.
And, when the doors are drawn back it means the glass doesn’t get quite so much smudging from small fingers. Who’s going to be first with self-cleaning glass for interior doors? Hmm, good business plan there, surely, in lived-in family homes.
Agent Kevin Barry says “the end result is an exceptionally well refurbished and extended property with an abundance of extras; this property is as good as it gets: it’s showhouse standard.” There’s a lot fitted in to what is essentially a still quite modest-sized 1,400-plus sq ft home, with galley-style kitchen with a Smeg oven, quartz tops, Ariston gas hob, Bosch dishwasher and LG American-style fridge freezer. The connected rooms have wide-plank look laminate flooring, contrasting with the hall’s retained terrazzo floor. Other rooms include utility, pantry and a guest WC.
The stairs has a simple, aesthetically-pleasing grid of white painted square spindles, with central carpet on the treads and risers, and the first floor has four bedrooms, two are doubles, two are singles, and the re-done bathroom has a new, large shower.
There’s no en-suite, and a new family of owners may consider future options of building over the single storey extension (designed and built for such an option) and there’s still room on the left gable for a side extension, subject to planning and some simple planting.
Or, many others will be delighted with Inis as it is. It’s got off-street parking for several cars, a front garden, side garden and a triangular back garden with side borders, screening walls for bikes and bins. The back corner has a detached garage that is ideal for storage, but can’t be reached by a car.
“Because of the location, we’ve used just one car, and you can walk most places with the children too, to parks, the Marina, shops and the school, even to Aldi in the Elysian which is so handy,” say the family preparing to uproot. Other foodie types will also appreciate the arrival of a gourmet cafe, Salt, 200 yards away by Kennedy Park.
Those locational advantages also saw the swift sale of four new 1,580 sq ft detached house builds, Citidella, at Bull’s Lane, near to Ashton in the mid €500,000s, with those almost completed houses now visible from the Boreenmanna Road.
And, within Marina Park, an upgraded and extended three-bed semi, No 51, sold a year ago for €390,000, also a walk-in home with style
One family’s moving on could be another family’s moving in opportunity.
Blackrock Road, Cork City
Size: 133 sq m (1,430 sq ft)
Best Feature: All done up