Warmth meets beauty in Cork city for €1.25m

With an A1 BER and meticulous attention to detail, this is a one-off, passive cert home
Warmth meets beauty in Cork city for €1.25m
Linaro House on Cork's Magazine Road. Pictures: Jed Niezgoda

There must be some bragging rights going with Linaro House — it’s almost certainly the first fully certified passive house makeover to come to the Cork city property market, hitting an A1 BER in its confident stride and with ease.

It’s backed up by ‘belt and braces’ energy-efficient features, and more insulating layers than a furry polar bear, all for the lowest possible running costs and options: but, there’s more to it than ‘just’ its passive and eco-street cred.

Linaro House Cork BIG auctioneers Pics Jed Niezgoda/VeniVidi Photography
Linaro House Cork BIG auctioneers Pics Jed Niezgoda/VeniVidi Photography

There’s been little like it on the Cork market, at any end of the price spectrum, thanks to its attention to low-energy, high efficiency, its hard-won A1 BER and, dare to say, attention to build and finish quality.

It wasn’t a rush job, it wasn’t done for a quick ‘flip,’ and it’s yours for just €1.25 million, give or take. It’s listed just this week, at last, with joint agents Cearbhall Behan of Behan Irwin Gosling, along with sole-operator Dominic Daly, and is so-ready to move into: lucky the family buyer that gets it.

Linaro House has been the engaging, almost personal project of builder Dave Lane of long-established low-profile Cork company Lough Construction, and has been three years in the wings, getting from wreck to righteous, near-derelict to delicious. with no paring back on the quality of materials used, or of the meticulous attention to detail throughout.

Work on its rehab was slotted into down-time on other projects Lough Construction was involved in — it’s not like it took three years full time, but it probably did benefit from not being rushed, from being a bit of an indulgence. Amid the pride, one can nearly sense Dave Lane’s slight regret as having nothing left to do now, bar pass it on.

First, the setting, and background, before the ‘anoraky’ bits of what’s gone into it.

The original Linaro House was a detached mid-1900s house, at the end of Linaro Avenue, a short run of four or five houses just off the tiny roundabout where Cork’s western suburban College Road and Magazine Roads meet up before Dennehy’s Cross.

Dave Lane and Lough Construction bought Linaro House as a doer-up and its shows on the Price Register at €320,000, back in 2015, essentially bought for site value, even though its original has been kept, inside super-insulated walls and considerably added onto.

(The Price Register also shows the sale of a semi-d called Porres, at the entrance to Linaro Avenue, first for €270,000, also in ’15 as a doer-up, and again a year later in 2016 at €399,000.

The short run of Linaro homes, once past Porres, faces the rugby pitches of Presentation Brothers/PBC, screened by deciduous trees for a glorious green summer backdrop, whilst the tiny Glasheen river or stream also forms a boundary here by the trees to the west. Behind Linaro Avenue, on the city side, is Bendemeer Park, another lesser-visited western suburban enclave.

At the end of its short and leafy lane, Linaro House is on mature private grounds, on a slight slope, and is set behind electric access gates (with alarm and four CCTV camaras, for the security conscious), and has parking for four or five cars, plenty for any family size — yet, who really needs a fleet when within walking distance of the city centre, on a bus route and so convenient? As a result, the location is as environmentally friendly as this very particular house is.

Back to the prime standard, and passive-rated with EnerPHit A1 approval in the bag (the paperwork for this is in train), this in now a two-storey, five-bed, 2,850 sq ft home where the word ‘craftsmanship’ is rightly used by selling agents, Dominic Daly and Cearbhall Behan.

So much of the craft here is unseen, though. It’s in the sealing and air tightness and the technology, but visibly it’s seen in the tiny details, like shadow-gap finishes in the walls in the guest loo, in the flooring, or in the timber used under the stairs and other panelling, even though it’s painted. It’s poplar, a little used timber in Irish domestic settings. It can be admired plainly in its clear, sealed woodgrain state on the inside of the understairs storage access door...even though, with Covid-19 health and safety guidelines, we’re not supposed to touch surfaces on house viewings … resist.

Wood-wise too, one of the few surviving details of Linaro House’s original interior is the staircase, a little bit wider than standard and with stout newel posts, chunky and tapering, and with a central carpeted runner.

In terms of accommodation, his feels bigger than its measured 2,850 sq ft, with a fantastic floor plan, especially at ground level, where there’s a rear section which has separate access, and so can be used almost as a self-contained office, teen apartment, or granny flat.

Except for the fact that the days of consultants, medical or otherwise, having their ‘rooms’ alongside their homes, this would be quite the perfect fit and layout for such a demographic.

Might some buyer be thus tempted?

At the price point of €1.25m, there’s every chance medics will indeed be to the fore in the bidding on Linaro House, there’s quite a few already living and buying in the vicinity between the Bons and CUH, or over a mile way in Sundays Well, or along the Model Farm Road just west of Linaro House.

Here’s a one-off, good to go, with understated design touches (such as the front projecting box windows) overseen by architect Paul Hudson; the passive side detailing was specified by specialist architect Paul McNally of the Passive House Architecture Company, engineering was cared for and taken care of by Declan Daly, of Concept Design, and, rounding out the design team was interior architect and garden consultant, Keith Spillane.

For a ‘spec’ rebuild project, the bobs weren’t spared, clearly.

Access is up a short run of limestone steps, broadening to a limestone finished terrace, framed with glass balusters overlooking the lower garden and lawn, with lavender and tree ferns part of the planting, all overseen by the Pavilion Garden Centre who wove a theme of mixed soft and hard landscaping around Linaro House’s skirts.

Once past the Viking triple glazed entrance door (all glazing is triple, including the Veluxes) solid oak flooring sets a subtle luxury tone from the get-go, in the hall and beyond, used in most of the ground floor, which inter alia is home to three reception rooms thanks to a deep floor plan. There is a great, interflow of rooms around the large kitchen/dining/family area, with kitchen units by House of Coolmore, and there’s a selection of rooms opening to the

grounds for a proper, inside-outside/garden room connectivity.

The double aspect reception room to the front left has a Dimplex optiflame inset fire, there just for visual appeal. It even gives off a log-cracking sound: strangely homely and ‘phony,’ but entirely unnecessary!

Despite the passive standard levels of air tightness and extraordinary thick insulations levels, Linaro House actually has a very sophisticated heating set-up, maybe put in to assuage the doubts of any actively passive sceptics?

It’s got a nine zone, thermostatically controlled heating system, so in effect anyone who want a precise higher heat level in a particular room can have it. All heating at ground level is underfloor, with rads upstairs, all then part of a heat recovery/heat exchanger, while the west-facing front roof section holds the photovoltaic solar panels.

The heating set-up bills must have come to tens of thousands of euros “and it might never, ever be used. There shouldn’t be a need for it,” observes builder Dave Lane, rather ruefully.

The selling agents describe the look internally as contemporary, and it’s a mix of that, with a nod to the house’s mid-1900s vintage, with top quality joinery, bespoke skirtings and deep door architraves, built up for a chunky, luxury hotel vibe: the architraves are especially notable on the first floor landing and are a signature carpentry finish done by Lough Construction, says Dave Lane.

This first floor hold four double bedrooms, two of them have en suite wetrooms with high end Catalano sanitary ware, rainfall showers etc.

Bed number five is downstairs, to the back, next to a guest bathroom (the ground floor has two guest WCs), and the rear section can almost be hived off as a separate space, with living rooms, bathroom and large multi-use bedroom/gym/home office with wheelchair accessible exterior access to the side/rear, up a Tobermore paved sloping drive.

On the house’s other side is an L-shaped courtyard garden, again done by the Pavilion Garden Centre, with limestone finish, espaliered apple trees, a large, signature olive tree is in a raised bed, and other raised veg/herb beds are trimmed with limestone capping, no less.

Other planting amid old railway sleeper steps and mulch includes tree ferns, and laurel hedging and a boundary wall is faced in chunky timber boards, a stepped mix of wide and deep-set boards to continue the strong visual aesthetic.

Is there anything not thought of here, for easy-peasey, passive-cosseted family living?

The sales brochure pitch for this so-precise, special and rare one-off acknowledges “the owners have spared no expense on this breath-taking technical project, setting a best-in-class example of craftsmanship and future-proof passive design. Linaro House is an outstanding opportunity to purchase a unique house in one of Cork’s most popular locations – it won’t fail to impress.”

As the fully-finished home goes to market, and furnished to show at its best effect by EZ Living, Lough Construction have thoughtfully given a detailed specification list to joint agents Dominic Daly and BIG’s Cearbhall Behan. It lists thicknesses of the various blankets of insulation, suppliers, ‘mech and elec’, glazing, sockets and switches, sanitary ware, heating and heat recovery, tech cabling (but it’s not a scary, ‘bristling with technology sort of feel), planting lists etc.

It’s a bit like getting the list of ingredients for a recipe ... but the real magic is as always, in the making, and the savouring.
VERDICT: Passive-approved, and future-proofed, Linaro House is possibly the most actively considered home to come to the Cork market in many a long year. It will repay its purchase price over decades to come.

Magazine Road, Cork City - €1.25 million

Size: 266 sq m (2,850 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 5

Bathrooms: 5

BER: A1

Best Feature: Has it all, with assive house certification

Pictures: Jed Niezgoda

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