First-time developer launches 11 family homes in Kilternan
A new project at Struan Glen offers beautiful family homes with impressive energy ratings. Liadan Hynes takes a tour
"Needs must, I suppose," says Patrick Levins with a chuckle, explaining his decision to move into property development. Levins was a quantity surveyor who had run his own building company, Broadstreet Construction, since 1995. When the downturn hit, he worked between London and Dublin for a number of years. Then, in 2012, Patrick had what he describes as "a little bit of a light bulb moment. Late 2012, I decided that [the economy] had hit rock bottom. There was only one way forward, so I started looking for a site and I found this in early 2013."
With a background in both commercial work - the fit out of Clerys in 2007 and all their stores around the country - but also in one-off, high-end homes, Levins knew exactly what he was looking for in his own first site, which he eventually found on the Enniskerry Road in Kilternan.
"I was looking for a small niche development. I wanted something that could be tasty. Just nice. That appealed to me and if it appealed to me, maybe it might appeal to other people."
It was a little scary, he acknowledges, moving from contractor to man in charge of Stoneville Developments, but so far Patrick Levins is relishing it.
"I'm taking land risk. And I don't get paid until somebody buys. When I ran a contracting company, we got paid every month. So our cash flow was always very good. With this, it's very different. I started spending here in early 2013 and I haven't earned one euro of revenue yet. But I'm hoping that's going to change very soon," he says with a smile.
There are only 11 houses on the site, but seven different house types. Three are terraced, eight detached, all are four-bedroom. The terraced houses are 181sqm, from €595,000, and the detached homes from 169sqm to 216sqm, from €675,000.
"I didn't want something at the starter-home level, I didn't want something at the top end," Patrick explains of Stoneville Developments' first project. "I wanted something that sat in the middle. Family homes, but second homes. Somebody trading up when they've got their 2.1 kids and now they need a bit more space."
Levins' wife Caroline did the interiors. It's not her official job. "Her job is my wife," he laughs. "She's really good at this stuff. We've moved house over the years. We've always bought houses that we've done up."
All units come with Bosch appliances and all have tiled flooring. They have chosen a subtle grey colour scheme, but if the buyer wants to change this and purchases before paintwork has been done, it can be discussed.
As one might expect from a project with such an investment of personal interest, there are lots of little details that will make the quality of life just that bit nicer. A spacious first-floor living room looks out over the countryside. Stira stairs lead up to a floored attic. In the showroom, pull-out under stairs cupboards maximise storage on the ground floor. Upstairs, the under-stairs space is used as a compact home office.
The houses have an impressive A2 rating, something Levins says he was determined to achieve. "When we started out, we said we have to be A rated. That's the standard now. That's what everybody expects.
"I went to my BER guy in BBA Architecture and said, 'You see the numbers now on what we're going to achieve. You know how we're building the houses. Is there any one thing I can do, that you could put your finger on that will bump me into A2?' And we decided on the windows. If we could achieve a better U-value on the windows." The windows, made by Munster Joinery, are triple-glazed and the highest-rated in the country.
The setting is idyllic: views of rolling hills in the distance from some of the living rooms, a stream on site overlooked by several of the properties. Kilternan has the feel of a country village, but the site is located within a five-minute drive of Carrickmines Retail Park, the Luas and the M50. Enniskerry and Stepaside villages are nearby, and the homes are adjacent to shops, pubs and restaurants.
There is a selection of primary and secondary schools nearby and for outdoorsy types there are Powerscourt Estate and Waterfall, local horse-riding facilities, and Ireland's only dry ski-slope to enoy.
Levins is hugely enjoying the development side of things. There is already another site in Rathgar to be got under way once this project is completed in September.
Four finished houses are now available, with another three due for completion in May, and the final four in August. "You can make decisions, look at things and say, 'Well, I like that'. When I was contracting, it was all under instruction. You do what you're told. This brings an added dimension, which is a problem," he explains. "When I wanted information, when I was a contractor, I just asked for it. And it came. Now I have to ask myself. And I have to make the decision very quickly."
Viewing: Today, 3-5pm
Where: Struan Glen, Kilternan, Dublin 18
Size: From 181sqm to 216sqm
Price: From €595,000 for 4-bed terraced to €675,000 for 4-bed detached
Agent: JLL Residential (01) 673 1600