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Built in 72 hours: This €1.5m Dublin home with indoor swimming pool went from foundations to functional in just three days

A three-storey Portmarnock property was erected in a time equivalent to a bank holiday weekend

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The Summer Winds Huf Haus arrived on a fleet of trucks from Munich in Germany

The Summer Winds Huf Haus arrived on a fleet of trucks from Munich in Germany

The feature floating staircase

The feature floating staircase

The dining room

The dining room

The sitting room

The sitting room

The SwimEx exercise pool in the basement

The SwimEx exercise pool in the basement

Jane McCorkell designed the garden

Jane McCorkell designed the garden

The specially designed garden

The specially designed garden

The house is a short walk away from Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand

The house is a short walk away from Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand

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The Summer Winds Huf Haus arrived on a fleet of trucks from Munich in Germany

Summer Winds, Convent Road, Portmarnock, Co Dublin

Asking price: €1.5m

Agent: Sherry FitzGerald (086) 3831047

On this Easter Bank Holiday weekend, imagine a crew of tradesmen starting to build a new house on the Saturday morning, just as you are waking up to three glorious days off. Now imagine they have it completely finished before you are back at your desk on Tuesday morning.

How about constructing a luxury 4,500 sq ft three-storey home with its own indoor swimming pool in just three days? You’ve heard of the The 64,000 Dollar Question and The Six Million Dollar Man? Well Summer Winds at Convent Lane in Portmarnock is the 72 hour house.

Four times the size of an average family home, this three-storey seaside home was crafted in a Bavarian factory in 2008 and arrived in Ireland by boat before being delivered to its address in coastal north county Dublin on the back of a fleet of trucks.

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The feature floating staircase

The feature floating staircase

The feature floating staircase

And thanks to a swarm of travelling German engineers and the crack building crew who arrived with it, the kit home was assembled like an enormous Ikea flatpack and in the equivalent of a single bank holiday weekend.

Summer Winds is one of the famous factory-made German ‘kit’ houses which, like Volvo cars, Dubarry shoes and Blackberry phones, enjoy a niche but hardcore following of devotees all over Europe, and for very particular reasons.

Kevin McCloud of Grand Designs is among the big fans of the German prefabrication-homes miracle, which deploys famously high-end engineering to construct airy, bright and rock-solid homes in mind-bendingly short time frames. And he knows that it’s that hair-raisingly fast on-site construction burst that has us all riveted.

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The dining room

The dining room

The dining room

Those who have seen it happen report the cohort of workers rapidly on the move with synchronised military precision. And they see a house literally appearing before their eyes.

But these homes are also built to last. Celebrating Grand Designs’ 20th anniversary in 2019, McCloud picked out his five favourite projects in Grand Designs history.

Not surprisingly, he revisited the luxury Huf Haus mansion ordered by a pair of Walton-on-Thames pensioners, which first wowed TV audiences in 2004. We watched it go up in three and a half days. Fifteen years on, Grand Designs revealed that the Walton-on-Thames Huf still looks brand new.

In Ireland, German kit houses have tended to be the alternative choice of discerning self builders, and rural-based self builders at that. The sort who like air-suspension systems on their cars or insist on Apple everything in their tech.

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The sitting room

The sitting room

The sitting room

And there have been tales of outsized Germanic convoys becoming stuck down the stony boreens of rural Ireland and requiring Massey Fergusons to haul them out. German kit homes are also comparatively expensive (the Grand Designs Huf cost Stg£500,000 almost 20 years ago). As a rule of thumb, they can cost up to twice as much per square foot and that doesn’t include the site.

But like anything German made, they are superbly engineered, quality fitted and are built to last. You won’t have the delays, no-shows and budget overruns associated with standard building (nine months on average), and the price you agree is the price you pay.

Another big plus is that a consultation with a qualified architect is part of the package. You work out what you want before you start and design your own style from an immense catalogue, or you can visit the manufacturers who often have ‘villages’ of all their top-choice homes constructed on site.

The established German kit house firms — Huf, Weber, Baufritz, Fertighaus Weiss and Hanse — have been building to Passivhaus standards (which require no heating) for decades.

So the finished house will cost you very little to heat once it’s built, pretty much no matter how big it is.

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The SwimEx exercise pool in the basement

The SwimEx exercise pool in the basement

The SwimEx exercise pool in the basement

Finally, there’s the peace of mind of the German family-based firm system. Most firms are at least 50 years old, so customers don’t have to worry about stock market flips, takeovers or unexpected surprises sometimes caused by the limited-liability firm system structures favoured here.

Munich-based Hanse Haus, which constructed Summer Winds, has been building since 1929. Just to plain old show off, some years ago, it held an international press event at its Bavarian HQ in which it built a large family home for the cameras in less than one day.

Summer Winds was itself designed by their ‘in haus’ architect Anna Gargan. It is a timber-framed home with a concrete basement, underfloor heating and a heat-recovery system, plus double glazed windows. Laid out over three floors, it took seven trucks to carry it in convoy from Munich to Portmarnock.

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The house is a short walk away from Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand

The house is a short walk away from Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand

The house is a short walk away from Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand

The site is accessed via electronic gates into a forecourt with parking for five or more vehicles. Enter at ground-floor level and there’s a high breezy hall with a feature floating staircase leading upstairs and downstairs to the concrete basement, which also came on a truck. Off the hall is a ‘hidden’ guest wc and straight ahead leads into the open-plan kitchen and family room, and then on into the garden.

This has been designed by the renowned Irish garden designer Jane McCorkell, who is a multiple medal winner at Bloom, where she has taken gold.

Also on the ground floor is a home office with a large corner window and the master bedroom suite. This has two windows, including a corner window, and a full bathroom ensuite off it.

The upper floor has a huge open-plan drawing room and the entrance to the roof terrace and sun deck. Permission could be obtained to add an additional room here if required.

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Jane McCorkell designed the garden

Jane McCorkell designed the garden

Jane McCorkell designed the garden

There are views of the sea from the house, which is just around the corner from Portmarnock’s Velvet Strand Beach. Bedroom three is on this floor with its own ensuite. This floor has plenty of hidden storage and built-in wardrobe space. There’s also a family shower room here.

The basement has a self-contained studio flat, which could be home to a family member or nanny. It has a kitchen/living room and its own bedroom with bathroom ensuite.

There’s also a pool room on this floor with a SwimEx exercise pool. This pumps water in your direction as you swim ‘on the spot’, much like an aqua version of a treadmill.

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The specially designed garden

The specially designed garden

The specially designed garden

There’s a home gym and exercise room, the plant and systems room, and there’s also a utility. A high BER B stems from tight insulation tied into a heat-recovery system and highly engineered double-glazed windows. A dumb waiter-style lift serves all floors. The site is completely private, but best of all, you are just around the corner from a five-kilometre stretch of one of the east coast’s most captivating beaches. Perfect for the coming 72 hours!

Summer Winds goes on the market this weekend, with agents Sherry FitzGerald seeking €1.5m.


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