House of the week: Waterfall, Co Cork, €650,000/€670,000

WITH more than 100 names down for chances to buy again, and at long last, at one of Munster’s very best developments where the two former showhouses went on first view on Tuesday, set to sell within days, it really will be a case of all’s well not ending well for most hopefuls at Earls Well.

House of the week: Waterfall, Co Cork, €650,000/€670,000

There’ll be a lot of disappointed would-be buyers and prices set for three more sales to follow, including a striking 4,000 sq ft barn-shaped house, ready for fit-out.

Sort of a barometer of boom-time aspirations, Earls Well in Cork’s Waterfall proposed 42 large detached 3,000-4,000 sq ft houses on equally accommodating sites, averaging one-third of an acre each.

Designed by O’Mahony Pike architects and superbly built in steel frames, they were a signature calling card of Fleming Construction, who got five built. Flemings prepared to launch them as the downturn took hold, in 2009, at prices of €1.05-€1.25 million.

Had they been launched around 2005, some asking prices could have been far higher, even €2m for a 4,000 sq ft high-end build with a curved barn roof, the selling agents at the time reckoned.

No one bought, nothing sold, Earls Well’s first handful of five homes were withdrawn and the site’s gates were locked up. And, Flemings went into liquidation in 2010 as one of the first major construction casualties of the collapse, with debts of a staggering €1 billion.

Earls Well is finally back, and is set to make a bang once more, offered for receivers Baker Tilly Ryan Glennon and for Nama, this time via estate agents Savills.

It’s been a long wait, for what’s one of the very finest schemes around and the list of hopefuls has built up.

Many of the 100-plus who listed expressions of interest got to visit, finally, with Catherine McAuliffe and Michael O’Donovan of Savills showing the two showhouses released this week, at starting prices of €650,000 and €670,000, for the 3,286 sq ft No 1 and the 3,550 sq ft No 5, respectively.

But, given the sizes, sites, design features, finishes, and condition, as well as being fully-furnished plus proximity to the city and CUH, they’ll go far higher, for sure.

Intending buyers have been asked to make their bids to Savills by email, with proof of funds and of ability to purchase. Only two buyers will succeed for the show units.

The site has a revised planning now for the rest of its proposed development, with scaled-down houses on the remaining 37 sites, albeit still at a decent 2,800 sq ft each, to a similar design by Mike Walsh, acting for the receivers, and that will be a far more leisurely roll-out.

This week’s two showhouse offers are sort of the plum buys in terms of specification, and are literally in walk-in condition; a family could arrive with just suitcases and pots and pans, as every bit of furniture is in situ. The problem is, given it was all done to reflect more Tigerish times and upwardly mobile aspirations, there’s a bit of bling in the decor and not everything will be to the new owners’ tastes. Plus, most intending owners will have amassed their own favourite pieces and possessions.

Whatever price the two completed ‘frozen in Tiger aspic’ showhouses sell at will, then, determine what follows with numbers 2, 3, and 4, ranging from 2,800 sq ft (the smallest) and the barn-storming largest, with red-walled curved roof wing, and 4,000 sq ft inside.

Those three are done to what’s called a builder’s finish, so will need flooring, kitchens, bathrooms and more. It’s likely that the value of the showhouse extras was well above €100,000: PC sums back in 2009 for kitchens alone was put at €30,0000, and these five-bed homes have everything, including underfloor heating and concrete floors, solar panels, B1 BERs, central vacuum, three top quality en suites, and wiring for everything, including sound.

All five of these homes have additional 124 sq m lofted double garages with boiler rooms, and their first floors are ideal for home offices, snooker rooms, gyms, and more.

VERDICT: Earls Well has held its own remarkably well during its shut-down phase: it’s going to be fascinating to see how the email bids pan out for the lucky two out of a 100 — and just what they are prepared to pay.

Waterfall, Co Cork


Size: 3,286 and 3,550 sq ft

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 5


Best Feature: Outstanding homes

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