Cork City €1.35 million
Size: 305 sq m (3,300 sq ft)
OPINIONS and tastes vary, of course, as do personal home-hunting criteria, but by many yardsticks, or by as many metre rules, No 1 Millfield must be a contender for Cork City’s Best Family Home.
That’s some brave claim, and of course there are rivals: But how many tick so many boxes as this new build does? And, handily, it’s just up for sale for those who want pretty much the best of what’s around to buy, and to live in.
Any downside? One. The price tag is €1.35m with estate agent Trish Stokes of Lisney, as it gets launched this weekend. There’s quite the chance it will go further in bidding, it’s just so good.
What other house can you think of where the owners want prospective purchasers to view it both by day and night to fully appreciate it?
Apart from the balance of daytime and nighttime use, it’s also pretty much all-seasons friendly, too. It’s got a truly seamless flow of indoor into outdoor spaces, with electrically retractable awning, wall-mounted electric patio heater, and a reflective water feature by corner windows, all as close to snugly weatherproof and cosy as any Irish home could aspire to be.
Other tech-driven firsts, from architectural experience garnered from design for those with mobility/access issues, are an internal ‘pocket’ wall between two main living rooms which silently slides and retracts to open up a vast space, and a kitchen island which can vary in height according to preferences/needs: More on these anon.
Architect-designed, architect-owned, and unstintingly specified from start to finish by a partnership that has as its design specialty creating life-enhancing homes for occupants with mobility issues — from severe, such as cerebral palsy to milder constraints — it’s as future-proofed as you’d want for any and all bodies, with an A2 BER for creature comforts, and low, low running costs.
Already, the antennae of Cork’s better-heeled home hunters and other property watchers might be twitching at the mention of close proximity to Orchard Rd over the wall.
Orchard Rd is a through-road, home to high-end one-offs, and which currently has a planning application in for a student apartment development next to the Brookfield complex and UCC medical campus, on the grounds of a house bought for €1.9m.
Millfield’s more niched location is pretty ace, with No 1 at the top of an almost invisible cul de sac of just three homes, on a short and private lane. It’s accessed just where Cork’s College Rd meets Magazine Rd, by a diminutive roundabout, serene in its separation from student shenanigans which afflict settings closer to the college campus’s doors.
By an extraordinary coincidence, the other side of that tiny College Rd/Magazine Rd roundabout saw a fully certified passive house new build come for sale three weeks ago at the equally little-known Linaro Avenue, guided at €1.25m and already under offer, at about €1.1m, after up to a dozen viewings with joint agents there.
What were the chances of even one, not to mind two, top-drawer quality of suburban city homes, coming to market close to UCC, CUH and the Bon Secours hospital? They’ve every service on the doorstep, and the city centre’s Grand Parade just 2.2km away, with the UCC campus making an attractive pedestrian diversion on that route.
No 1’s (might as well get use to calling it that?) the result of the on-going development of design themes worked up by Cork firm Collins Brennan Architecture (CBA), headed by architects Mark Collins and Stephen Brennan, built for and owned by a partner in CBA who went with every learning the firm had amassed.
No 1 Millfield is redolent of Mosman, only after a dose of steroids, or bodybuilding, as it’s far larger, with five first-floor bedrooms (two en-suite) and one at ground level too (optional home office) by a wet-room, all on a bigger site, and it also takes the energy efficiency and BER rating to even higher levels.
He later flattened it, and started again, beginning with a Kingspan Passive foundation: This, says lead architect, CBA’s Stephen Brennan, meant “no cold bridge, as no concrete touches the ground. This can’t be achieved on renovations.”
The build, over a two-year period via closely-supervised direct labour, was done in an Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) method, with Nudura ICF from a Canadian company delivered by Laois firm Warmbuild, with passive standard of 0.15 u-value.
Any anoraks out there? According to Stephen Brennan, ICF “reduces the need for airtightness membranes and special internal render systems as it is a 20N mass concrete wall compared with a 5N concrete blockwork wall”.
NorDan did the passive-certified glazing, and the detail naturally has to go into things like passive-standard sills throughout, even ones finished here in limestone
and/or zinc. Another no-expense-spared feature is the extensive use of Kilkenny limestone on the facade and by the main, tall Accoya door, by Southwood Joinery.
Supplied by Creggstone, the limestone was shipped to be cut and polished in Portugal, done about three years ago when Creggstone also did the feature stone on Cork’s Courthouse on Anglesea Street.
Millfield has Passive-rated Velux windows, with five panes of glass, essentially a triple-glazed unit with secondary double glazing. It’s remotely-operated with timers and rain sensors built in, all solar-powered: It’s reckoned to be the first house in Cork to have them installed.
In contrast, Siberian larch soffits and cladding are also a key part of the look, and larch is repeated in the electric gates by Millfield’s approach avenue, with low-level lighting supplied by No 1’s owners for the benefit of all three homes on the leafy lane.
Included in the grounds is a very old apple tree, from Brookfield House’s heyday: It survived an attempt by the ESB to uproot it when they wanted to put new power poles in the back garden. “I told them I’d rather live in a house with no power than lose it,” says No 1’s owner.
CBA’s Stephen Brennan pushed the boat out with his own design of the kitchen island, which can rise and fall like the tides, on four motorised risers: It can go high for a bar counter effect, or low for children’s parties, or for wheelchair-using diners, and he’s brought clients with special mobility needs to this house to show it in motion. Readers can see it on a video link on the Irish Examiner’s online property website links.
The unstintingly high spec continues into things like CAT 6 cabling and surround sound in five zones, all easily controlled by simple remotes, as are electric blinds and a retractable, motorized canopy over the heated terrace, from Fastnet, Carrigaline.
The attention to detail is exemplified in things like the tiling: The architect owner knows his tiles and specified top of the range Porcelanosa, via Tile Style, and precision laid by Duggan Brothers.
To get the flow from kitchen/dining to terrace, he first marked out on the floor where every tile was to go, so as not to have a bad seam by the postless sliding doors.
They’re from the Oxford Acero range, so convincing in their faded, beach-house wood-grain effect that a carpenter doing another job here ‘kindly’ dropped over specialist floor cleaning materials for wood floors as a ‘favour’.
With viewings in hand, Lisney’s Trish Stokes says “this home will attract people to come to the market who will only move for a specific product on account of the quality, size, location and level of finish.”
VERDICT: No 1 Millfield’s a home for all seasons, and all times of day and night too. Even with the tech and the moving wall and floating island, plus its A2-BER efficiency, it’s top of the class.
Any other contenders for Cork’s Best Family home? Bring ‘em on.
Cork City €1.35 million
Size: 305 sq m (3,300 sq ft)