Homes that make a splash for your cash
Donal Buckley discovers why the market for domestic swimming pools is refloating
A survey by the Home TV Channel asked punters to list the vital factors which they believed defined a luxury home. At the top of the list came a swimming pool – chosen by 30pc of respondents – way ahead of the next most popular choices of a private beach (20pc) and walk-in wardrobes (8pc).
But the reality is far removed from the idea held by the public. Irish estate agents suggest that those of us who strike it rich here are far more likely to opt for a home gym (just 6pc in the Home TV survey) or a home cinema (not ranked at all).
But with the economy in recovery and people starting to spend on their homes, there has been a 15pc growth in the market for domestic swimming pools since 2011, according to Castle Pools, one of the market leaders which has been installing pools since 1982.
According to Castle's Mark Howlett, new pools are now in demand again, particularly from those who work in the financial services and tech sectors. "We're also seeing an increase in renovations and upgrades from those who closed their pools through the worst of the recession years and are now reopening them again."
He estimates that installing one's own pool can cost between €30,000 and €60,000 for an average outdoor 10-metre pool depending on construction type, location and access, and that it could cost a further €3,000 to €10,000 for pool heaters.
However, pools require regular maintenance and outdoor versions can take up a lot of space that could be devoted to other uses. In Ireland's climate, pools are not everyone's cup of tea so consequently when it comes to selling a home, the selection of bidders may be more limited.
Howlett echoes estate agents in their view that a pool does not actually add value to most properties, ensuring that in most cases it is indeed a luxury rather than an investment.
However, he has seen some exceptions in the case of top-of-the-market homes where "the quality of pools and spas could be called heavenly".
He estimates the average cost for heating a 5 metre by 10 metre outdoor pool for the summer season could range between €2,000 and €4,000 while a similar sized indoor pool could cost between €4,000 and €7,000 a year.
"It will depend on the method of heating and the environment in which the pool is located," he adds.
A search shows that prices for houses with these accessories currently on the market can range between €465,000 and €2.5m and because homes have fallen so much in value since the peak, there is an opportunity for enthusiasts to pick up expensive pool complexes for a fraction of what was originally paid.
At the top end is Brandywyne House, Rathmichael Haven, Rathmichael, Dublin 18, which has a relatively new indoor pool. Built in 2007 and extending to 792 sqm over three floors, an elevator serves all floors including the basement where the swimming pool and gym area are located.
The pool area extends to 14.5 metres x 11.8 metres while the pool itself is 11 metres long, 5 metres wide and has a depth of 1.6 metres. Floor-to-ceiling glazed walls allow gym users to view the pool while exercising. The basement also accommodates a changing room, wet room, WC and sauna.
Brandywyne's landscaped one-acre site is designed around entertaining friends and family with a south westerly rear garden, large decked area, outdoor lighting, a sound system and BBQ pit. Other attractive features of the house include a double height atrium over the dining area, a master bedroom with dual aspect and French doors to a private sun terrace with views of Sorrento Terrace and Killiney. DNG is selling the property.
In Co Kildare, an indoor pool and leisure centre comes with Holly Lodge, Sunnyhill, Kilcullen. Its 70.5 sqm leisure centre is relatively quiet because of its wood-panelled walls and ceilings, while three sets of French doors open to the rear garden and overhead Velux windows offer natural light. The 7.5 metre long swimming pool is complemented by a sauna, steam room with shower, two changing rooms and a Jacuzzi.
The former home of the late Patricia and Joe McGrath, of Irish Hospital Sweepstakes fame, Holly Lodge, is a two-storey house extending to 528 sqm, which was built in 1988.
Set on a three-quarter acre site near Kilcullen, it is located about a mile from the M9 Motorway which connects Dublin to Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford. Jordan Town & Country estate agents is quoting €695,000.
Swimming enthusiasts might wonder why the owners of The View, South Strand, Rush needed a pool as it is practically on the sea shore in north County Dublin.
Designed for entertaining friends, the 7.5 metre by 3.5 metre pool is complemented by an outdoor barbecue and an adjoining indoor bar.
Inside the five-bedroom house is an open-plan reception area laid out with living room, dining area and kitchen from which two sets of double doors lead to the rear patio and pool area.
A separate family room is located at ground level while an upstairs sitting room provides a place to enjoy the views of the beach and sea during colder days. Two of the en suite bedrooms are also located at ground level.
Ganly Walters is guiding €785,000 for the 385 sqm home which has a relatively efficient B3 energy rating.
In east Cork another seafront home, East Ferry Lodge, Midleton, also comes with an outdoor heated swimming pool which is 12 metres long. It is complemented by a hot tub and viewing terraces with views over Cork Harbour.
The renovated Victorian house has four reception rooms and two of these, including the conservatory, open on to the pool area.
Upstairs there are four en- suite bedrooms and a viewing terrace. At the opposite side of the main house there is a separate 117 sqm guesthouse, while to the side is a detached 37 sqm home office. Sherry FitzGerald is asking €1.3m.
In Hollywood, Co Wicklow an indoor heated swimming pool and outdoor hot tub are included in the sale of Ard Carraig at Broughills Hill. The single storey pool room measures 12.75 metres x 7.04metres. and has two doors which open onto a patio area. It is equipped with filtration systems, de-humidifier, seating area and has a plant room plus toilets off it.
Standing on 5.3 acres the modern residence extends to 277 sqm and comes with a drawing room, kitchen/breakfast room, sun room/conservatory, study, four bedrooms including an en suite master bedroom and two bathrooms. JP & M Doyle is quoting €465,000.