Dublin's Strand of revival
A home which stood empty for so long that a tree grew through it, has been reborn at a cost of €200k
THE house at 142 North Strand Road had a narrow escape in World War II when the Luftwaffe dropped an enormous bomb on the central Dublin neighbourhood in 1941. The dwellings located between numbers 153 and 164 were all but wiped out. In all, 17 homes were destroyed and 50 more were damaged.
Germany later paid compensation for what it claimed was a navigational error on behalf of its pilots, although others asserted it was revenge for De Valera sending Dublin City's fire brigades up North to aid Belfast during the Blitz of that year.
But after what is believed to have been a 20 year vacancy, the 1860s built home was once again in danger of oblivion when project manager Michael Flood stepped into it for the first time in 2012.
"It was essentially two rooms and a kitchen and it was in a sorry state," he said. "The house was so bad that it had actually been the centre of a Derelict Sites Order which, in the end, was never implemented. An indication of just how long it had been empty was a tree, which we presume had seeded in the gutter of the back lean-to, but over the years had grown so big that its roots had worked their way right through the external wall and into the house."
In 2012 when the Dublin property market was on its knees, the derelict house was bought by a couple with a young child who really wanted to live in the city centre. With property prices on the floor and banks refusing to lend for mortgages, never mind projects like this, the current owners got the property at a snip - just €55,000 according to the Property Price Register.
"I think they had the idea when they bought it in May 2012 that they'd conduct a restoration and they'd be in by Christmas," said Flood.
But in the end it was two more years and €200,000 spent before number 142 was ready to move into.
The rear part of the house was raised above garden level - two rooms were at street level and steps went down to the old "lean-to" kitchen, which was a metre lower at garden level behind.
"It was decided to make use of this false floor space to lodge plans for two storeys at the rear. This would allow additional bedroom space upstairs and add greatly to the living space."
Because the house is mid Victorian, planners were ultra careful on its fate while a shortage of planners at the time meant it took a full year to get planning permission.
"As we progressed through the project, new problems were revealed. For example, it was originally intended to keep the internal walls. But these turned out to be unstable. So in the end they had to be replaced," said Flood. "The roof, which linked to the adjoining property would now also require a big investment because it was being altered in height but would still have to blend seamlessly with its neighbour when the work had been done."
New roof beams and fresh slates were put in along with steel beams to ensure the house was self supporting and no longer reliant on its neighbours to stay standing.
"So essentially it got everything - new floors, new walls, new roof, electrics, plumbing and so on," added Flood.
"We even had the original chimney stack shared with the neighbouring property taken down brick by brick, cleaned and repointed and rebuilt exactly how it was.
"What made life more difficult was the fact that there is no rear or side access so absolutely everything required had to be brought in through the front door and right through the house."
The vendors finally moved in two years after purchasing the house but since then, they have been blessed with two more children and are selling up to find a property which better suits a large family.
The extent of the refurb meant that the couple could also invest in optimising insulation and the finished house has a B3 rating which is extremely high for a property of its age - Victorians are normally found with lowly cash-eating 'G' energy efficiency ratings.
Now the house is being offered for sale seeking offers in excess of €285,000 through the Gallagher Quigley agency.
The accommodation, now thoroughly modern and full of natural light, spans 1,140 sq ft compared with 600 sq ft previously.
There is a large living room/kitchen and two double bedrooms with the master chamber coming with its own ensuite. There is also a lounge which can double over to make a third bedroom if required.
One of the big attractions was the original garden size which not only facilitated the substantial garden level extension but also left the owners with a 250 sq ft patio garden.
Thanks to their gumption and patience, the owners have not only saved a historic home in this central Dublin location, but they've also made themselves a bit of profit to enable them to better their position in their hunt for a more suitable property.
Thanks to one of the most comprehensive refurbishment and modernisation jobs in the area, the house at 142 North Strand Road is ready to go another 150 years.
142 North Strand Road North Strand, Dublin 3
Asking price: €285,000
Agent: Gallagher Quigley (01) 8183000