There’s hardly a house as good, and with as many positives, in and around Ballinlough in suburban Cork as Hayfield House.
Well, actually there is: there’s one just a little bit bigger and a little bit better – and, it’s right next door, called Somerton House.
These side-by-side whoppers, Somerton and Hayfield, were built to a generous Victorian design palette externally and with all the modern bells and finishes inside, constructed seven years ago on the grounds of an original 1900s Edwardian home, Somerton House, which lent its name to the adjacent mid 1900s Somerton Park.
The old Somerton House went for sale in 2006 on one-third of an acre, guiding €750,000 and sold for well over €1 million.
It had extraordinary grounds, lushly planted over early decades and had turned jungle-ish, with 22’ long old conservatory and garden store, while the house was by then in a poor state.
It fell prey to the burden of very considerable renovation costs, despite its relatively modest 1,750 sq ft, if it were to survive, while the site’s multiple attractions and ultimate value spread over two houses instead of one, saw plans made to replace one old, with two, far larger new builds.
It was a bit of a planning battle, but permission was granted by An Bord Pleanála for the two imposing houses now seen on the short cul de sac, Somerton Drive, on the Ballinlough Road.
Having rented Hayflield House out to the corporate sector for the last seven years, at a very decent rent, the owners have now decided on the back of a recovered residential market to offer it for sale.
It comes to market this month with estate agent Kevin Barry, who guides at €850,000, and that’s for an unstinting, top-spec home on a beautiful, private site, south-facing at the back with a large green over the back wall in full view, close to the city, and to the office and retail parks at booming Mahon also (the Mahon-based Solarwinds had rented Hayfield for its top execs up to now).
Mr Barry describes Hayfield as “a stunning detached residence, just seven years old, and built to an exceptional standard, with a B1 energy rating and fantastic comfort and space.”
Design-wise, it follows a upmarket Cork homes trend popular in the late 1990s and 2000s, where the Lindville development on the Blackrock Road laid down a style marker that become widely emulated, picking up period Victorian design influences from the many 19th century originals in that nearby suburb.
The ‘homage’ has been done with varied degress of success around Cork;on a visit, it appears that Hayfield House will have trumped many of the Lindville three-storey house types, as so many of them are slender, on narrow sites.
By comparison, Hayfield House has more room to breathe, it’s much wider, bigger than most and its site is bigger too, and main living rooms are all larger as a result.
Design of both the ‘new’ Somerton House and Hayfield House was by Mark Stapleton of MJS Architects, and he sensibly broke from the Victorian glazing constraint to the back of both houses where he put long runs of windows across the rear at ground level.
It’s sort of the modern extension owners of Victorian homes far and wide are putting in, only here it’s all part of the original design package, linking to a family space with an atrium roof window slotted into a parapet roof.
It all serves to give maximm airiness and solar gain to the kitchen/living/dining space, and opens it right out to the rear patio to the side, where the gardens and the landscaping are coming on again in spades, for considerable privacy.
(The couple who bought the old site/house/gardens had dug up many of the more interesting trees and shrubs for replanting after rebuilding, having had a horticultural survey done, as Somerton’s first owners were the Atkins family, a name still assocaited with horticulture.
Incredbily during the wait to build, a van and trailer drove in, and lifted the whole lot, plants, pots and more, never to be seen at Somerton again.)
There’s a lovely bonus, waiting to be “tapped into”, over the back wall of Hayfield House, should any new owners want to.
The original Somerton House had access at the back of its gardens to a large open green by the estate called South Lodge, and the family in occupation in the new replacement home have kept a gate in situ for occasional, controlled access.
For their children it’s opened up a new safe play area the size of a football field, and it equally operates the opposite way as their children’s friends from neighbouring parks can come to play at Somerton’s child-friendly garden too; the same option’s there should a young family buy Hayfield next door.
Coming now to market, Hayfield House is presented in ‘as new’ condition, repainted inside and out and with nary a mark on the floors, or the kitchen’s units or granite tops, and bathrooms are undated neutral tones and tiles, with pressurised showers, carpets are soft underfoot and cosy, on top of Ducon concrete slabs for a real building heft and hush.
Entry is to the right of the wide hall, then through part-glazed double doors is a very well-sized 20’ by 16’ formal living room with bay window, marble open fireplace,s higher than standard ceilings and is freshly carpeted.
The hall is floored in solid oak, the stairs is in mahogany and has a central carpet, and the understairs guest WC is large, while there’s full disabled access across the house’s entire ground floor, with its six bedrooms on the next two floors above.
The rear is laid out for day-to-day family fare, meals and down times, as well as for entertaining, with simple, unostentatious white kitchen units under black granite tops, matching the mix on the island.
The same solid oak flooring continues across this full-width (over 20’ wide) room and it goes too into the sunroom wing, under the long-glazed lantern or atruim-style pitched roof window.
This roof light is something the owners had in previous homes in London and in Cork, and it’s a perfectly at home feature in Hayfield (and Somerton Mark 11) House.
The ground level has a store room and a utility, and there’s front to back garden access on either side of this big, and tall, detached build.
The first floor is home to three large, double bedrooms,with master to the rear, and it has a long, slender walk-in ‘robe/dressing roms, plus en suite, another bedroom also has an en suite, and the main family bathroom is at this level also, with a wide and bright landing.
A second flight of stairs leads to three further bedrooms at attic/dormer level, or there’s options to use some of the rooms right up here as a study/libary/gym, or it could be an au pair’s floor and private suite.
This level has its own bathroom, and like the others below, has a large, double shower and extensive tiling.
Every bedroom has a view worth savouring, on either level and from front or back.
To the front, the views are long and distant, over the Ballinlough Road and lower semis to Montenotte across the River Lee, while at the back they are sunny and south-facing and have the green at South Lodge in the near distance, plusthe hills miles away at Maryborough, Rochestown Frankfield and the Airport further off.
On the doorstep, meanwhile are schools like St Anthonys, Eglantine and Our Lady of Lourdes, whilst secondary schools like Regina Mundi, Ashton and Douglas Community School are a short walk or cycle too.
For the young at heart, or for sedentary walks, there are public parks at the Nurseries, with its municipal swimming pool, Ballinlough park has tennis courts, a scout hall and a community centre, there’s Beaumont quarry (with soccer pitch and pitch and putt,) Mahon for golf to the back of the Well Road, Cork Constitution’s up the way for rugby, and Páirc Uí Rinn a puc fada away also, off the Boreenmanna Road while the Orchard Bar has squash courts.
And, having worked up an appetite, there’s the legendary family-run O’Driscolls supermarket, deli and wine selection for easy sustenance, 200 metres away.
“This is such a great location, everything’s on the doorstop, and there’s hardly another house of this size, comfort or quality to be had in the vicinity,” says selling agent and local resident Kevin Barry who started viewings this week.
He notes, too, the top spec that includes solar panels for water heating up on top of the natural slate roof, wiring for alarm, CAT 6 cabling, all rooms are wired for sound with ceiling-set speakers, and outside there’s an easy-keep printed concrete front drive, side paths and rear patio terrace too.
Mr Barry points to recent sales in nearby Douglas at Hettyfield, at €1m for the smaller Glen House, while on the Borenmanna Road a dated detached home opposite Páirc Uí Rinn sold in late 2015 for c€500,000, and is due now for demolition and replacement with a single large new home.
And, the rapidly expanding builder of quality homes on in-fill sites, Rockforest Homes, have sale terms agreed on four one-offs they have yet to build at the demolished Greenways (once owned by Rory Gallagher, see also p2), on the Well Road.
Those four Rockforest homes of 2,000-3,000 sq ft are selling, two at €850,000, one at €950,000, and one for over €1m, ever before being publicly launched for sale.
Each of those four could have sold four times over, according to joint selling agents Casey and Kingston, and Cohalan Downing.
Well, now disappointed underbidders there on the chi-chi Well Road can take solace from the arrival of the one-off Hayfield House on the open market with Kevin Barry, set less than a kilometer away.
As consolation prizes go, it’s a pretty damn fine one: it stands squarely on its own merits.
Somerton, where the living is easy.