Tommy Barker visits a rebuilt former council house with lofty vista and price tag at Kinsale’s Ardbrack High Road.
Ardbrack, Kinsale €1.2 million
Sq m 162 (1,740 sq ft)
Best Feature: House rebuilt to match the view
EVEN the seagulls seem to find something special about the setting of the fully-rebuilt semi-d at 7 Ardbrack.
As likely as not, on a visit, you’ll see them hovering in the air above its garden, adding movement to the views beneath this perch of sky, water, boats, and Kinsale town.
It’s a gilded vista of a lauded tourist town and harbour, where the best house plots seem paved with gold.
Possibly those flocking gulls’ movement is due to thermal uplifts, from warming currents rising up off water, at this estuarine bend in the River Bandon, where harbour runs away to sea and oceans.
Whatever, or which, the vendor of No 7 Ardbrack is hoping for the property market equivalent to thermal uplifts, with a sharp rise in value due to the uplift of its water aspect.
Aimed squarely at the upwardly mobile, or proven high fliers, this completely rebuilt home is one of a dozen former council houses arching around a bend rising up above Scilly, just past the famed Spaniard bar.
Equitably built and allocated as social housing by the local authorities in the late 1940s, when Ardbrack was ‘edge of town,’ their occupants always had the view: now, as owners, they’ve been handsomely rewarded if and when they come to resell.
Ardbrack sales consistently make price records, but the asking price of €1.2 million of the lavishly rebuilt No 7 (and the lesser guide of €795,000 on the more original-size, c 650 sq ft No 9, which is also for sale) will still have the town talking.
The price chat, and the watching, won’t end until one, the other, or both are sold.
Then, the prices paid will start a further round of discusssion, as they always do, in the upmarket and rarified echelons of Ardbrack, already home to some of Munster’s most expensive housing.
“I think this has got the best view in Kinsale, there’s just something about this house’s position,” says No 7’s estate agent James Murphy, sitting into one of the window seats, placed in the upstairs master bedroom of this utterly unrecognisable rebuild.
It’s an almost verbatim ‘best view’ line the owner had used, as he invested hundreds of thouands of euro in doing up his family-owned tiny semi-d, which is now 1,740 sq ft, almost three times its original size.
You’d expect a vendor to claim it, and possibly also the appointed selling agent, but sitting in the chair alongside, it’s hard to argue with the evidence before one’s eyes.
The visiting Irish Examiner photographer, and the BER assessor/trained architect Anthony Hayes, are also inclined to agree.
Nobody’s in a rush from the windows here: the view is simply beguiling, thanks to its position on the bend, with the headland at James Fort forcing itself into the centre frame, with Charles Fort out by the harbour mouth and panoply of Kinsale town’s hills hove into view out a side window panel too.
Of course, much of this appears is guff when you pass the front of this house and its calm grey walls under salvaged and reclaimed tiles, and its retained cast iron gate pillars, also painted grey.
You’d suspect has been extended and upgraded, and has had an architect’s input too — in this case, it was Richard Rainey, who’s done a few other Arbrack houses and extensions.
Despite the evidence of investment and extending, it would be hard from out on the road to see the value of the €1.2m price-tag.
Whoever does buy here, at what ever level, won’t look like they’ve splashed that amount of cash, or close to it: it’s for the sort of person who won’t feel the need to show off (even if they know they are, a bit.)
Not only was generosity of view granted to these pairs of semis when allocated in the late 1940s, they also got good-size grounds, up to a quarter acre in some cases, facing south at the back, all within a short, and scenic, walk of the town, around the Scilly dam.
As a result, if and when they come up for grabs, they’re seized upon: one made €650,000 ‘back in the boom’, and No 3, made €515,000, well into the bust, at a 2009 auction.
Last week, with recovery in full bloom (if not over-blown in some quarters once more?) No 9 came for sale with agents Engel and Volkers, guiding €795,000 and eyebrows got raised.
It’s just 650 sq ft, in good shape but critically has full planing for extending — up to four-bed size and status.
Meanwhile, another semi in this clearly-prized row by the Spaniard is currently being ripped apart, just a few walls currently standing, showing the size of original rooms.
Well, No 7 sort of shows the way these rebuilds can go; it’s the biggest so far of the makeovers, and with a high spec to match.
It has a porch entrance (bring your own Porsche) underfloor heating downstairs, under porcelain tiles and under oak floor boards, and where there’s a guest bedroom with garden access via French doors, plus bathroom/shower room, off a good-sized hall that only hints at what come next.
Open into the main, interlinked kitchen/dining and living space, and the views sort of roll up on you.
The kitchen’s tucked away toward the front of the house, with black quartz top, on mid market range oak units, probably a sensible choice: whoever next lives here could be not at all into cooking, or will want to go all super-tech: foodie Kinsale caters for both ends of the spectrum.
The main living and dining space is big, and deep with an open fireplace for a real fire, and this oak floored room stretches past deep out into the staggered-width extension which ends in more double doors and with deep windows going from almost ceiling height, to the ground.
The panorama to be scanned and savoured beyond almost draws you in, and if you get drawn out, there’s a wide stone-flagged terrace outside, lanscaped with shrubs and with tensioned steel wires for a marine feel arounds its perimeter.
Back inside and upstairs, there are three more bedrooms, all en suite, with good quality tiling, large banks of mirrors, good sanitary ware and built ins, etc.
Comfortable, clean, above spec and standard — and not jostling for attention with the views.
VERDICT: Bidders will take a view on price, and prize the view.
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