House of the week: Ballinlough, Cork €285,000

Size: Sq m 100 (1,100 sq ft)
Bedrooms: 3 Bathrooms: 1
BER rating: B3
Best asset: Pristine, and location

Homes can be like the human body — in need of TLC, surgery and even joint replacement. If done right, there’s a fresh spring in the step, and decades more good health to be enjoyed.

That’s the case at 7, Belmont, in Cork’s Ballinlough — an older, settled suburb that has itself greyed at the temples, thinned out on top and is undergoing a bit of a renewal in its own quiet way.

Dating to the mid 1900s, there’s quite a network of sedate estates here between the Boreenmanna, Ballinlough and Douglas Roads, stretching back toward Beaumont, and pretty much all within a sprightly walk of the city centre.

And, over the decades, services have become embedded too — if a city planner or developer now were to plan a scheme of several thousand houses, it could pretty much follow the template of what’s to hand in this greater Ballinlough catchment. Public parks? Tick. Credit Union? Tick. Bus routes? Natch. Community Centre (with both Meals on Wheels, and a creche)? Absolutely. National schools? Tick.

Sports facilities? Yep, try playing fields and sports clubs, tennis courts, squash courts, swimming pool, pitch and putt and more. Church, shops, cafes and take-aways? To be sure — there’s several, including the institution that is O’Driscolls, a family-run supermarket with deli and booming hot-food counter. There are a few traffic ‘pinch-points’ on the Ballinlough Road, at the church whenever there’s a big funeral or at Sunday mass, and at O’Driscolls especially after mass — when the quota of retiree-driven Starlets, Fiestas and Yarises is high, and parking is, ahem, a bit more random.

Within a hop, shuffle or a jump of O’Driscolls is 7 Belmont Park, a semi-d that has come back from the precipice of old age: it’s re-born, a veritable youngster, a new head on old shoulders, or the new kid on the block — tick as appropriate.

We last covered it in these pages in October 2011, when it came for sale in a raw state, more or less untouched for decades, although vital underpinning and drains work had just been done and certified. Home then to an elderly gent who was known up and down the park as he had a custom of sitting outside the house greeting one and all, it carried an initial asking price of €215,000, and sold within a few months. (curiously, the Price Register shows two very different prices coming up for this exact address in 2012, one at €275k, the other at €165k — and it sold for the lower sum.)

Even though No 7 had kept things like old fireplaces and a terrazzo floor in the hall, it needed full renewal — and that’s what it got, from its energetic buyer.

Now, surprisingly, that buyer is suddenly a vendor again: No 7 Belmont Park was bought as trading-down move from a larger family home at Carrigaline after children flew the coop, to Australia and Canada. All of sudden, they’re home again. Having been reared with en suite bedrooms, and even though the main bathroom here is top-notch, including a bidet and large shower, there’s a bit of a push on for more space, and the willingness and energy to go for another house move again.

Back in 2011, we wrote “this older style three-bed semi needs doing up, but with certified works having been done it is a case on onwards and upwards,” and that’s exactly what it got.

From the broad front drive and cheery red door inwards, past the creamy large porcelain tiles throughout the entire ground floor, all is shiny and new, bright and cheerful.

Dominant touches include the high-gloss red kitchen units and the extremely well-finished staircase, with solid walnut treads, clear glass balluster panels, all topped with a walnut handrail or banister. The feature stairs has got painted risers on each step, with tiny LED lights in ever alternate one as a sort of runway guiding system and style statement.

In fact, all lighting throughout the house is energy-efficient LED, and helps this re-done home score a very good B3 BER rating. Helping get into the ‘Bs’ is a new zoned condenser boiler, double glazing and high insulation levels, with outside walls slabbed on the interior side.

Light bounces around and through the fully-finished house thanks to things like the stair glass and pale floor tiling downstairs; making the best use of space, the woman behind the project opened the back reception/dining room into what had been a galley kitchen, for what’s now a very useful and airy space. Add in the fact there are glazed double doors (with sandblasted glass) between the front and back rooms, and it’s all now quite open, feeling more spacious that ever before - even though no extension was added. The rear looks out over decking and a decent-sized garden to an old limestone wall, a former orchard boundary.

Selling agent for No 7 is Jeremy Murphy, who guides it at €285,000, on the basis it’s a walk-in job, in such a strong, favoured location, with little else like it currently available. It could be bought by other traders down, he reckons, or by a younger couple who know they have plenty of space available to the side and back if they want to add on extra floor area, en suite bedrooms or further living space/sun room in a few years time.

VERDICT: Virtually a new house, in a proven setting.

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