Georgian style four-beds in capital's commuter belt
Liadan Hynes previews 15 new luxury family homes which launch in Dunshaughlin this week
'This site was first born in 2014," says Aidan Hora, then corrects himself with a laugh. It's a slip that acknowledges his personal investment in the Georgian Collection development.
Hora Homes is a family affair, with Aidan's father Tom, and brother Alan, working on the construction side of things, their mother Eileen looking after accounts and interior design, and Aidan looking after the sales end of their business. Tom Hora actually began the company in 1973, building one-off Georgian-style homes down the road from this site.
With The Georgian Collection, which will be shown this weekend for a private guest list, and a full launch next week, Hora Homes are bringing to the market a collection of 15 high-spec, period-inspired detached four-bed homes, all c232sqm, from €550,000.
"What we tried to do is a very traditional exterior and a more contemporary interior," says Alan. In trying to meld the new and the old, he says, "you just need to pay a little bit more attention to detail.
"We would always try and pick a theme and kind of set [the development] around that," he continues. "In this case it was using the old buildings already on the site to set the tone." They bought the 10-acre site on the outskirts of town in 2012. Surrounded by green fields, it contains the original Dunshaughlin toll house, dating from c1860, and its beautiful stone stable buildings. "A lot of the time, in going for this type of planning the planners won't necessarily allow you to do it, for fear it will be quite pastiche. So when we had the old house and the old building it was a chance to say, here's a way to do something that's a little bit different," explains Alan.
The old house is currently being refurbished, while they hope to build one large modern home of roughly 280 sqm in the three stable blocks, linking the buildings with contemporary glass corridors. Both will be offered for sale later in the year.
So far, besides The Georgian Collection, Hora Homes have already built 50 houses in the Seachnall Abbey development on the same site. It launched in January 2014 and is now fully occupied. The land had planning permission for 64 units, mostly three bedroom semi-detached and town houses, when they purchased it in 2012. They reapplied, lowering the density to 50 and opting instead for bigger units. The smallest house is a four-bed semi-detached house at c145 sqm.
"We couldn't make them stack up," says Aidan of the three-bed units. "Four-bed detached homes were the only thing that made sense; bigger, better quality houses rather than three-bed semis which you couldn't justify building; you would have been building at a loss." Buyer demand is new in the area, he says, which lends itself to this sort of bigger house, with Dunshaughlin appealing to buyers looking for a taste of spacious country living but close to the city.
In The Georgian Collection, Hora Homes have focused on the trading-up market. "What you're getting are people who want more space, more quality. They're going for a certain lifestyle. They've decided they don't want to be in the city," explains Aidan.
Prospective homeowners might be employed in the pharmaceutical plants in Dublin 15, less than 10 minutes away, or commuters working in Dublin, most often along the M50, and looking for large family homes are among the potential buyers. The properties have also attracted some downsizers, either living locally or from Castleknock.
The Georgian Collection homes are set on a wide avenue, double-fronted, with large gardens fenced in by period-style iron parkland railings, and traditional street lighting in front of each house. Sash windows - PVC with a wooden finish, a fan-light above the front door and a slate roof, are among the traditional features in these concrete homes.
Two living rooms lead off the large, bright hallway. One is stand-alone, the other leads to the vast kitchen, dining, and sun-room with elevated ceilings. Both have fireplaces, one contains a wood-burning stove, the other is an open fire. It's a rare addition, given the new energy regulations, but allowed in homes with more than one fireplace. These homes still manage a BER of A3.
The high-end kitchens, by McNallys Interior Designers in Ballsbridge, are fully-fitted with Siemens appliances, including a coffee maker, and there is a modern and traditional option in terms of kitchen units. A spacious utility room with WC and rear garden access leads off the kitchen area.
Hora Homes continued to build during the recession, focusing on a luxury apartment complex, Wellington Hall in Trim, which appealed to the retirement sector.
"My dad had this thing, keep it going in some shape or form, because once you stop it's very hard to get started again," says Aidan. Now, they maintain one Meath-based development and one in Dublin, currently building a higher density development of 200 homes in Donabate.
"Our target is to do 50-70 houses a year. That's what we would be doing now. Replacing land is the challenge, and having it lined up and ready to go when you want," says Alan. Finding land is "tricky but you have to be very patient about it. The easiest thing in the world is just to go out and pay top dollar and borrow loads of money. There's either end - a good product, at the end, but taking your land in properly at the start is very important."
His father also instigated a rule of no selling to investors. "Since 2004, we point blank refuse to sell to investors. My dad took the view they're bad for the market. It's hard to turn down 25 sales when they're sitting in front of you, but he was absolutely right," says Alan, who believes that the upkeep of a development flourishes under owner-occupiers.
The Georgian Collection, Seachnall Abbey, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath
Agent: Hora Property Consultant (01) 665 0456
Viewing: By appointment