Monday 15 July 2019

Beat the builder blues: Foxrock home with industrial flourishes, and a Guinness terrace renovated top to bottom

Soaring builder costs have made renovations a risky option. So duck the tender blitz with pads where the hard work is already done, writes our property editor

The new kitchen/living area at 176 Foxrock Close which features industrial lighting and vintage metal cabinets
The new kitchen/living area at 176 Foxrock Close which features industrial lighting and vintage metal cabinets
The exterior of the restored 1930s former Guinness worker's home with period-correct front door
One of the bedrooms at Larkfield
The metro-tiled bathroom
The dining area end of the Larkfield extension
The blue-hued new kitchen and cooker at Larkfield Gardens
The Indian sandstone patio and 78-foot long garden at Larkfield
Vanessa Macinnes
The living room of the Foxrock property
The rear patio at Foxrock
The dashed exterior at Foxrock
Designer Vanessa MacInnes who designed the interiors at Foxrock
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

Suddenly spiralling builders' prices through the last six months in particular, have been having a sharp downward impact on the market for older homes, particularly those in need of a complete stripping out to bring them back to life.

The extent of the problem will be revealed in In How Much Is Your House Worth? 2019, the Irish Independent's annual free home valuation guide by locality and property type which is published with tomorrow's Irish Independent.

Valuation experts are citing a new scarcity of available builders for projects and the resulting surge of renovation cost quotes as well as labour shortages and rising material costs. There has been an immediate impact on the values of renovation project properties. One Dublin-based estate agent reports that in a dozen cases, he has sold period homes in need of renovation to buyers who got quotes from builders before making their offers.

But in the time it has taken to get planning through and mortgages paid down, their builders have reneged on original quotes and hiked costs up to a degree that it has become uneconomical to renovate. In most of these cases, the buyers have returned the homes straight back to the market for sale.

Designer Vanessa MacInnes who designed the interiors at Foxrock
Designer Vanessa MacInnes who designed the interiors at Foxrock

Against this background, the most cost-effective route may be to source a period home that has been renovated at last year's prices - one which had had its necessary work done already and preferably within in the past five years.

Examples are two 1930s period terrace homes, which have been transformed in the upturn years and have just returned to market offering a turnkey solution to the builder blues. One is located in Foxrock and the other in Harold's Cross.

176 Foxrock Close in Dublin 18

First up is the terrace home at 176 Foxrock Close in Dublin 18, whose vendor moved in three years ago having acquired it from the well-known Irish designer Vanessa MacInnes. MacInnes is the long time owner of Industry Design, the interiors shop at Drury Street, Dublin which sells the look she has perfected and deployed to makeover No 176 after renovating it with the help of House7 Architects.

When Vanessa moved on soon after the renovation at the end of 2015, she sold the house to its current owner, a legal practitioner, who was clever enough to acquire many of her trademark standout keystone furnishings along with the house itself. The buyer has kept the overall look and returned it to market again pretty much as purchased and seeking €595,000, a reasonable inflationary mark up on the €555,000 the property price register indicates it was acquired for back in December 2015.

Vanessa and her husband bought the property as an executor sale. The work was major, with the house pared back inside pretty much to just the bare walls. Today it is essentially a modern home in a period shell.

The designer called in Patrick Lynch, of House7 Architects, who, among other visual devices, deployed high internal doors as a trompe d'oeil tactic to make the internal space seem larger. They went all out with the new kitchen/living area in which the MacInnes look has run riot with industrial lighting and the use of vintage metal cabinets. Additional touches were added at the construction stage, for example a recycled mahogany floor originally from an old school building.

The dining area end of the Larkfield extension
The dining area end of the Larkfield extension

There's oak shelving, a distinctive island unit, 1930s-style civic space tiling and smart framed floor-to-ceiling doors/windows to give a view of the garden.

The house has two double bedrooms and a single bedroom upstairs and is decked out with disctinctive salvaged materials throughout. The master bedroom has the original cast iron fireplace. The living room has the original brick walls exposed, there's a raw oak staircase with exposed steel rails. Floor-to -ceiling glass double doors lead through to the kitchen, where the industrial loft style theme continues. Here a power floated concrete floor is set off by the slate grey kitchen units and the Carrera marble countertops.

The island unit also incorporates a central breakfast bar. Further storage is provided in the utility room. On the ground floor, there is also a bathroom and walk-in hot press both featuring full-height doors.

The upstairs bathroom with its extra large bath and Grohe shower head completes the overall look with penny mosaic floor and wall tiles and top of the range retro fittings. To the rear of the property there is a 50ft landscaped garden consisting of lawn and bordered beds with mature shrubs, ornamental pond and there's a digital irrigation system. The kitchen leads out on to the patio and follows on to the lawn. This garden has two patios, one right outside the kitchen and another at the very bottom of the garden alongside a garden shed.

At one end of this cul de sac is Kill O'the Grange library, National School and the parish church. To the rear of the cul de sac is Deansgrange Cemetery.

20 Larkfield Gardens, Harold's Cross, D6W

When a run down former Guinness worker's terrace home from the 1930s came up for sale in 2016, it was in its original size and format and in need of some tender loving care.

The living room of the Foxrock property
The living room of the Foxrock property

It came to the attention of Dubliner David Moran and his partner who were looking for a home with character within handy distance of the city centre.

"The one thing that really stood out was that it had this incredibly long back garden.

"The garden site was unusual too because it wound around in a curved line. We were encouraged by the fact that some of the other residents on the road had taken the opportunity to extend."

Wanting to get their renovation right, the Morans called in architect Graham McNevin with Project Architects, a firm which includes among its projects the St Helen's Hotel in Dublin and the Opera Lane development in Cork.

"While we had our own ideas about what we wanted to do, Graham brought in additional proposals that we, as lay people, would never even have thought of.

"Then he took our ideas and amped them up beyopnd what we thought possible. We could have done it without them and the resulting house would have been just alright but with him on board we think we've ended up with something really special."

Like Foxrock Close, the house was stripped right back to its bones leaving only the walls standing. On top of the internal renovations of the existing home, they got to work extending down the garden. They added a modern kitchen and dining room and a utility room.

"The whole lot was replumbed and rewired. We reconfigured it quite a bit and installed the bathroom where the tiny kitchen used to be and and the utility room where the bathroom used to be."

And when faced with the curving site at the rear, the architects simply went with it.

The result is that the big open plan area on the ground floor with numerous living spaces actually sweeps around in a soft bend. It means that as you walk through the home, new living spaces are revealed and come into focus.

"We wondered about it in the beginning but having lived in it, we found it was one thing that we really loved about our new home and that it really gave it character.

If the site was straight and you could see all the way down through it, as you would normally expect, it just wouldn't be the same."

The Morans have ended up with a wholly modern three bedroom home within a characterful period home shell. Now, however, with their family fast expanding, they plan to seek out another larger project house in the very same neighbourhood.

Like the house at Foxrock close, No 20 Larkfield Gardens is also located in a cul de sac and benefits from a quiet location with off street parking to the front. Even with the considerable extension in place the now landscaped rear garden still clocks in a substantial 78 foot. Better again is the fact that it's south west facing.

The project took six months to complete and the couple moved in later that year. You come in through a period style front door in a 1930s style to a wide hallway with a tiled floor.

The living room has a Heritage wood burning stove, coving and understairs storage. This in turn runs open plan into the kitchen and dining areas.

The kitchen and dining extension has a pitched roof with Velux windows overhead. There's white subway tiling in the ktichen areas and a large central island unit with an integrated sink and microwave. There's a utility area with fitted units, a sink, combi boiler and plumbing for a washing machine.

The bathroom is to the front with white subway tiling, a bath, shower and a heated towel rail.

With fitted units, sink, plumbing for washing machine and combi boiler

The master bedroom to the front has its own ensuite shower room, built in wardrobes and wood flooringDouble bedroom two has its original cast iron fireplace and the single bedroom to the rear has a built in wardrobe, wood flooring and Stira stairs to the attic

* 20 Larkfield Gardens, Harold's Cross, D6W is priced at €500k through DNG

176 Foxrock Close is €595k through Sherry FitzGerald.

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