House of the week

Knockrea House is the business — and in more ways than one.

The period house has been the southern regional home to business body IBEC, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, and its predecessors, since the 1970s. Now that they are selling up and moving on, Knockrea is certain to return to private residential use once more, says its selling agent Trish Stokes of Lisney’s Cork residential wing.

Back in the right hands, and with its 3,800 sq ft of living space, it’s going to be a cracking family home once more, ticking so many must-have boxes for the market’s admittedly sluggish upper end.

Just look what it has going for it — a period property in very good overall order, on almost an acre of very private tree-screened grounds, on Cork’s main Douglas Road.

Set behind a mighty pair of wrought iron gates with set-back pillars, and reached up a laurel-lined avenue, it’s a fine south-facing two-storey detached home, with its back close to a high, boundary limestone wall. On the great site’s other three boundaries, there are very mature screening trees which give immense privacy and harbour an array of birdlife, and there’s enough lawn in front of the neat-four window facade to house a tennis court.

There’s a simple elegance to the early-to-mid 1800s property, just beyond the Cross Douglas Roads, with its matching east and west walls’ bay windows hinting at the finery and proportions of the main reception rooms within. But, other than that, viewers coming looking for a new family home will have to exercise their minds’ and imaginations a little, as some 35 years of FIE/IBEC office use have meant there really isn’t a ’domestic’ or private residential feel to it at present.

While there’s four decent first floor bedrooms easy to discern, there’s no en suites and no main family bathroom either, just ladies and gents WC’s on each of the house’s two quite elegant levels.

Then, while there’s a service canteen or kitchenette, there’s no kitchen either worth its salt; a rear annexe shows traces of where a kitchen was decades ago, but no new owner is going to reinstate there without a bit of re-ordering, extending or wall knocking.

So, start with a floor plan, and aim east or west for the sun and the light and a garden view. Bring an architect, because there’s evident and easy potential here to create a contemporary add-on for kitchen/living/dining on one side or another, possibly along that great high back boundary wall.

That wall is also plenty big enough for a lean-to glasshouse or conservatory.

You won’t be caught for fine and formal reception rooms, at least, there’s a pair here already, both south-facing with big end bays, with sash windows and shutters. There’s also a den/home office, and a suitably grand hall (entered via internal stained-glass double doors) stairs and landing, and the rear annexe has scope for media room, games rooms or teenagers’ quarters. Vendors IBEC seem to have kept up well with the maintenance, with the roof re-done with slate and lead flashing, and period details like decorative plasterwork and fireplaces haven’t been interfered with

Lisney’s agent Trish Stokes is seeking offers around €1.2 million, as she knows she has a rare enough and prized enough property to sell, in a top class location. But, buyers will probably want to negotiate on that asking price as it’s going to take a decent enough further chunk of money (€250,000? €500,000?) to make it the sort of private house it deserves to be.

VERDICT: Needing softening up a little, and sorting out with cash and flair, Knockrea House is ready to come home after sorting out its business affairs.


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