WHEN computer technology first allowed users to "walk" through created landscapes in pixels back in the eighties, people were raved about the possibilities for the phenomenon they called "virtual reality."
Trendy locations that could afford it, such as London's Trocadero Centre, invested heavily in "gloves and goggles" experiences that allowed users to look up and down and move around in created 3D worlds.
Thirty years on, having revolutionised computer games with multi-user worlds, virtual technology has also provided myriad practical uses, such as flight simulators and training for surgeons.
Among the most effective applications has been its use for architects to "construct" buildings that have yet to be built - enabling their clients and others to undertake virtual tours and walkthroughs to experience a building not yet physically constructed.
And so a house at 208 Clontarf Road is for sale today with a "virtual extension" attached. On the market with a price tag of €595,000, the Dublin 3 property is a "project" waiting for a new owner.
Currently divided into six flats, its most likely fate in the wake of new regulations governing rental accommodation is to be converted back into to a singular family home.
So the current owner has hired architects Tyler Owens to come up with a plan to remodel this home via a reworking of the inner layout and the addition of an eye-catching contemporary extension, which opens the house out at the back for a light-bringing, garden-facing kitchen/dining and living space of the sort that modern buyers now expect.
The owner has also applied for and successfully obtained full planning permission for this scheme.
The period terrace house is at present divided into six flats and would have represented a decent investment property for the current owner, who bought the property in 2013 for almost half the current selling price - €380,000 - according to the property price register.
However, new regulations would have presumably made it rather difficult to hold on to it as a letting property unless a serious investment was made to equip it with modern bathroom and kitchen requirements for each unit.
But 208 Clontarf Road is also the perfect example of how trophy home-buyers in Dublin are benefiting from the demise of olde-style flatland in the city since the introduction of these revised regulations.
As a prestigious private home, this property has quite a lot going for it. First off, it's located in Clontarf, where demand has generally exceeded supply for property even through the "crash" years.
Second it's a manageable-sized period house - again high on the menu for home buyers seeking a residence with a bit of difference.
Third, unlike so many properties that have long been in flats, it is in remarkably solid and clean condition.
Finally, it would be hard to find a better view - the property is located on the "turn" of the coastal Clontarf Road, near the yacht club. So when you open your front door, you're looking at the sea.
A prospective buyer can also take a "virtual walk" via film on the Vimeo website, allowing them to "experience" the envisaged finished home.
If they buy the property, they also have the advantage of not having to pay an architectural practice to come up with the plans, and thanks to the owner, they will have full planning permission ready to go.
In addition, Tyler Owens says it is on hand to take enquiries from would-be buyers and to steer the project through for a new owner if they wish to hire them for the task.
Selling agent Conor Gallagher, of Gallagher Quigley, thinks that selling homes with conversions drafted and full planning permission attached is something that will catch on.
"Think about it, so many conversions do essentially the same thing," he says. "So any project home going for sale with full permission attached and architectural plans presented like this not only shows a buyer how the conversion will look."
On top of this, owners who want to try something else will have an extension precedent.
The plans by Tyler Owens add a bay window to the front of the house, as a number of other properties have already done on this stretch. The new home will be a considerably larger 2,131 sq ft, instead of the current 1,646 sq ft.
On completion, it will have a reception hall with downstairs loo, a drawing room, a separate family/dining room in the extended area (which will also incorporate a kitchen), a laundry and a dining and living area overlooking the garden where extensive glass panels open out.
Upstairs will have a master bedroom with a shower room en-suite, a second bedroom also with an en-suite shower, two further double bedrooms (four in all) and a family bathroom. There's also permission for a modern shed/office building at the end of the garden.
And if buyers don't like the plans, they can throw them out and start again. All in all, virtually foolproof.