Cork's Augusta Drive is a home in one

Plenty of space for entertaining after short-term owners revitalise suburban oasis with an open-plan upgrade writes Tommy Barker.

Cork's Augusta Drive is a home in one

Maryborough, Douglas, Cork


Size: 212 sq m (2,290 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 4


There used to be a game in comics and magazines where two pictures, seemingly of the same scene or setting, are put up side by side, and readers are asked to spot the 10, or maybe 20 differences between them after they’ve been tweaked by artists.

It’s a game that home hunters in Cork could play in the case of the sales brochures for 20 Augusta Drive, in the Maryborough Woods development on the edge of suburban Douglas, as it comes back up for sale after just four years care in its present owners’ hands.

It last sold in 2016, showing up at €700,000 on the Price Register and selling agent at the time was Jim Coughlan of James G Coughlan auctioneers, who had price guided it at the time at €650,000.

Annagh House
Annagh House

Now, Mr Coughlan has its resale once more: this time No 20 also carries a name, called Annagh House after a river in Kerry by Tralee and Blennerville. This year, the price guide is €785,000, and while Annagh House/aka No. 20 it might look more or less the same on the outside as it did nearly four years back, inside it’s a very different proposition.

In fact, it all looks and feels quite brand new, and performs that way too.

It hasn’t grown but it appears to be bigger, far brighter too, and the good news for any aspiring traders-up is, once bought, there’ll be absolutely nothing at all to do bar move in furniture.

It hasn’t been extended, but it has been opened up internally at ground floor level, where the former back reception room/dining room is now a family room connected up to the 21’ by 17’, spanking new, all white kitchen, with wide white granite-topped island, and gleaming white gloss units, and all-new integrated appliances, in a reconfigured layout, done by Cork kitchen maker John Costello.

The connection was made after knocking through a solid wall and putting in a sturdy steel beam across the just-opened span: it means that No 20’s back half now is a super-sized affair, joined visually by new, plain white floor tiles, and the full width across the back of No 20 now is probably about 28’.

As critical is the aspect here to the back, pretty much bang on west-facing and the entire rear (and patio, and garden) floods with light in the latter half of the day.

The morning the Irish Examiner visited at the start of this week, the sun was streaming into the front, bay window and master bedroom’s balcony, coming in over trees by the boundary to Douglas Golf Club: consequently you’d sort of expect the back, in morning shade, to be on the darker side: not at all.

Helping is the connection through the house to one side, where the front 22’ by 14’ drawing room links in any case to the rear, now family room, so that when the dividing doors are left open, light bounces around.

It’s also added to the sociability and circulation options for the house’s occupants, who say that even a party with 30 people feels like it’s being underused and that they’ve filled it bit more when up to 100 visitors have descended.

Smaller numbers and smaller people, came to visit since 2016, too, as there are now three boys in residence, aged from nearly five years to one year, and they’ve made it a real and easily accommodating family home.

Pictures: Jed Niezgoda

The owners are ‘out of towners,’ with Cork-Tipperary county boundary and Co Kerry roots, and are moving on to build a house from scratch, on family-owned land, and yep, they’ll once more be going down the open plan route, and with attention to aspect and lots of glazing to the back.

No 20 is the second upgrade they’ve done, having previously ‘opened up’ a home in another part of Douglas before trading up to this 212 sq m, c2,300 sq ft five-bed detached, and on a visit you get the impression they know what they are doing, and what they wanted, and that they enjoyed it. So much so, they are taking the even bigger plunge now, and will build anew using direct labour.

Most of the changes here at Augusta Drive were done in a rapid burst of construction activity after the 2016 purchase, wrapped up in about six weeks (take heart if you have plans yourself, it can be done, especially if now breaking new ground/extending.

All the bathrooms have been redone and upgraded, and only the main bathroom was left out in that six-week project, to be tackled later on.

That too has been done from scratch since, and the net result is that the sort of critical rooms that any homebuyers want to update, kitchen and bathrooms, are all done here, bang up to date, wiht quality tiling jobs, yet done in a choice of sanitary ware and calming, netural-oriented tiles that really won’t date.

Investment also went into improving the plumbing with three-bar pressure now to the main bathroom and master bedrooms en suite shower: the pressure would strip paint, the owners jokingly caution.

Tackled along the way was improving insulation levels, in the attic and walls, with foam insulation pumped into the cavity walls, and the fireplace in the main ground floor reception rooms is now an inset 6kw solid fuel stove, replacing a previous gas fire. It’s super-efficient, the owners say, nearly too powerful, and when fired up they tend to open the connecting doors to let the abundant heat disperse.

Douglas Golf Club
Douglas Golf Club

When built initially, in the early 2000s, these O’Brien and O’Flynn homes on the Augusta Drive section (which has 24 detacheds in all, in two runs of 12,) with an east/west orientation had oak internal joinery and doors and brass fittings, which were above the spec of the day, even if they sort of dated the interiors after a few years.

The occupants at Annagh House have painted all of the doors, and updated the door furniture/handles with more contemporary steel pieces, and the effect is notable.

They also painted the timber built-in units in most of the five bedrooms, and changed handles, again refreshing the look.

Then, the same wool carpet is used across the first floor bedrooms and a large landing for visual continuity. Apart from the five bedrooms (two are en suite,) there’s enough space in the landing for a desk, there’s a good-sized step-in hot-press for clothes airing, and a pull down access door and Stira to a part-floored attic with its increased insulation.

About the only finishes left untouched at Annagh House were the solid oak floors in the hall and main living rooms, and elsewhere all’s pretty much fresh, new, easy to live with and even a change of artwork and furniture will re-personalise it for another set of residents.

Jim Coughlan expects trading-up interest in the main, and from the greater Douglas locality primarily. But, it would as readily suit those relocating from abroad, and who mightn’t know the lay of the land if tempted to do an upgrade to an older home.

The Price Register shows just two of Augusta Drive’s 24 houses selling since 2010: by by coincidence it will be the second resale for each. (See also sale of No 18, p4 today.)

No 22 sold in 2015 for €680,000 and again in 2017 for €660,000 as an executor sale. Then, in between those short-order sales, No 20 made its €700,000 in 2016, and got its added-on improvements after.

That’s before it got its quite extensive and expensive ‘modernising’ touches, and now at a guide of €785,000 it’s unlikely the vendors are making much, if any profit. That €785k sum is about what these august address detacheds were selling for in the early to mid-2000s, and around the market peak it was reported that one particular resale got bid to about the €1m level.

What’s unchanged through it all is the location, on a sloping cul de sac by the boundary with Douglas Golf Course and the 17th green, within the very popular Maryborough Woods scheme of 600 homes in all, in a mix of types that includes apartments, and with access point off Maryborough Hill and off Carrs Hill. (At one stage in the Tiger Times boom, Douglas Club was the focus of a planned relocation with land values of €110m and even €180m estimated.)

Surprisingly, there’s now no views of golf greens, or tee boxes on the course, and not even from the first floor’s sit-out bedroom balcony from this end of Augusta Drive, which was named after the site of the US Masters golf jamboree in Augusta, Georgia. Trees by the course are now up to 20’ tall, but you do, apparently occasionally, hear the odd ‘Fore!’ from errant drivers.

With off-street parking for car drivers on the east-facing and brick paved drive in front, No 20 also has possibly one of the larger, and more level, back gardens of the run, and has very well-established planting and ivies up the back boundary wall, giving lots of additional privacy. Plus, it has a decent-sized steel garden shed for storage.

Launching Annagh House just this week, auctioneer Jim Coughlan says it’s one of the rare-to-market buys that has both location and quality finishes, “in spades.”

VERDICT: All tee-d up for a home in one.

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