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'Glass box' a handy add

Sep 19, 2023Sep 19, 2023

Next to Greenbanks, Randall House, on the Well Road in Douglas, is guided at €1.25m by Ed O'Donovan of Sherry FitzGerald O'Donovan

Well Road, Douglas, Cork



225 sq m (2,418 sq ft)







WELL, ‘Randall’ survived — and it's back, bigger and better than ever. It's warm, cosy, finished to the Nth degree, and with a "glass box" extension to the rear, for good measure.

Now called Randall House (perhaps reflecting a shift upmarket after a total revamp) the ‘bones’ of this house appeared in these pages back in 2018, when a 1980s house on three quarters of an acre made the ‘House of the Week’ slot.

Back then, we wondered if it would survive and get upgraded? Or be demolished and its grounds developed for high-end homes, given its Well Road location, right next door to the niche new house scheme, Greenbanks?

The previous version of Randall was a 2,200 sq ft four-bed, red-brick home which was built in the ‘80s, replacing an earlier 1900s family home of the same name on mature grounds running down towards Douglas Estuary, entered 200m from the roundabout pivot of the Well Road and Woodview.

Back in December 2018, the last version of Randall (Mark II?) was guided at €950,000. The Price Register shows it selling for €750,000, and the purchasers were, it transpires, Jean O’Donovan and Daniel Finnegan of Better Built Homes, a couple who’ve combined construction and interior design skills on several fronts, in and around their native Mallow, and increasingly in the city and surrounds.

They did the upmarket townhouse scheme Mulberry, a development of five tall, ‘London-style’ townhouses on the Curraheen Road which, coincidentally came to market in December 2018, the same month as the last version of ‘Randall’ also went for sale, and which caught their eye.

It no longer bears any resemblance to the previous incarnation, clearly enough, and while the house, Mark III, itself is bigger now at over 2,400 sq ft after its porch and sun room were added, its grounds have shrunk, as the buyers got planning permission for a further, brand new, one-off home just on its Douglas village side. It’ll be a super-sized one of 597sq m or some 6,300sq ft, to a design by West Cork based architect, Geraldine Coughlan.

The roughly half an acre site for that big one-off has now been cleared, but construction has yet to start. First up, the sale of Randall House, which became the couple's own family home, up to now at least.

The B1-rated five-bed home is freshly listed with agent Ed O’Donovan of Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan in Midleton, jointly with Ann O’Mahony of Sherry FitzGerald's Cork city office and it's guided at €1.25m, renewed from top to bottom, including a new roof, and wrap-around insulation.

The dual auctioneer pairing may well be obvious to those in the property business in and around Cork. Co-owner Jean O’Donovan — who runs her own property and lettings business, Trading Places — is sister to SFO’D auctioneer Edward, and they are third generation in the auctioneering business. Their father was second generation Michael O’Donovan Snr, who set up four franchise agencies under the Sherry FitzGerald O’Donovan name, in Mallow, Fermoy, Midleton and Carrigaline.

Michael O’Donovan snr died after an accident a year ago while on holiday in Spain, and his son, Ed, subsequently took over the Midleton office of the family-owned firm. To say the family is steeped in property is perhaps an understatement, and that's even before you throw in Jean's cementing her marriage to skilled builder Daniel Finnegan.

Entering their latest handiwork today, Randall House, you’d be hard pressed to find anything at all left visible of the previous Randall, bar perhaps the window placements, so complete is the overhaul.

It has a slightly set-back entrance on the Well Road just beside Greenbanks, with a smooth-running electric gate which can be triggered in advance to open by mobile phone, with a new, high wall all around its c 0.2 acre site, now clearly delineated from the balance of the 0.75 acre grounds it once commanded and where big plans are afoot for the one-off to follow ‘over the wall.’

A driveway lined with chippings has space for several cars past the enclosed front lawn, with vast amounts of quality limestone paving acting then as a ‘skirt’ surrounding the house and its patios, skillfully laid by Jodie Lane, while landscaping at the perimeter is credited to Paul Murphy of Abbey Landscaping, all taking root with lawned areas front and back.

There's a new roof, and under it the property's external walls have been given a full insulation wrap by Grainger Energy Insulations, the evidence of this clear in the smoothness and increased thickness of the walls, especially around windows, with glazing arranged via Helen O’Callaghan of Munster Joinery.

The porch entrance, flanked by full-height windows either side of the door, has a flat roof, in long-lasting fiberglass, with a moulded ogee pediment offer as a nod to classical design, and the same ogee finish (done by Passive Sills in Youghal) is seen to even better effect on the surround of the similar flat, fibreglass roof over the added on-sun room.

The tone and quality of the interior is set from the get-go on entry, with a central hall, and rooms off left and right, via sliding pocket doors, while the same engineered oak floor finish (sourced from Spain) runs throughout most of the ground floor.

To the left is double aspect living room, luxe, with large wood-burning stove in a chimney breast with timber log storage under it, and there's a large TV screen over it. The well-sized room is likely to have been formed from two smaller reception rooms given the roof profile with beam, while ceiling coving is by Capital Mouldings in Douglas.

Off, across the hall, with its feature panelling and beading, is the L-shaped kitchen/dining/living room, with the kitchen to the left, the large dining table is at the link and the added on sun room, about 15’ by 14’, is the bright casual living area. Primarily with a south-east aspect, it's fully glazed, on three sides, with two large panes left and right and then a large sliding door in the end, opening to a limestone paved patio.

Ceilings in the original kitchen/dining section are, again, coved and a cleverly mirrored sliding or pocket door opens to reveal a large utility room with AEG washer and dryer set at a mid level; super efficient and ergonomic, and easy on the back for whoever is charged

with looking after laundry duty.

Units and island in the kitchen are sleek, with the island and splashbacks quartz topped, and appliances include a flat AEG induction hob, two AEG ovens, integrated larder fridge, and a Liebherr larder freezer.

Also at ground level, to the back, is a high quality wet room bathroom, with sanitary ware and tiling from Delforno, and serving two ground floor bedrooms, both doubles.

A glass balustered and carpeted stairs (carpets from long-established Cork firm, Sless) leads to a reconfigured first floor, with bedrooms tally reduced to three bedrom to create a spacious main suite, with banks of storage/robes and a walk-in dressing area, whilst there's also access to a large floored and carpeted attic under the new roof for further storage.

Adding to the hotel suite feel is the en suite bathroom with both bath and separate rainfall style shower, with on-trend black fittings.

The entire house is clearly in walk-in order, done to the last square inch, above showhouse standard (shelves are full of design books and familiar brand names and biographies) and it's understood that families relocating who really like the whole look can make offers on particular furniture and other items that have already made themselves at home. Or, they can choose to start afresh with their own personal choices, knowing the house itself has been brought right up to date with its new radiators, new boiler, phone app controlled heating system and access controls, as well as its B1 rating.

Apart from the superb, top of the line finish, the Well Road location is Randall House's other key driver as to just how well it's going to sell.

Different sides of the Well Road and adjacent Woodview have seen some very strong prices paid both for finished homes, and for sites/knockdowns.

Closest strong result to Randall is practically over the side/back wall, where the circa 2,600sq ft A-rated No 4 Greenbanks sold last year for a recorded €1.47m, a cool €250k over its initial €1.2m guide.

Over at Woodview, off the Well Road roundabout, meanwhile a 10,000sq ft French chateau-style house was built to replace a 1920s home called Curraghbeg on 1.5 acre, which sold for a hefty €2.4m in 2015.

Across the road, by the roundabout, a sharp and angular low-slung contemporary one-off with blackclad panels and stunning copper finishes is just wrapping up construction on the site of another knockdown, a bungalow called Vermar which sold in 2019 for €475,000, while a new coffee shop operator has just taken over the former GoGos café 250m from Randall House's front gate.

Every Douglas amenity is on the doorstep, with schools within a walk, Mahon golf course is over the hill and tennis courts by the village, and with Mahon a nip away, either for shopping, office, medical service or walks.

A lot has changed in the affluent hinterland since the first Randall surfaced here nearly a century ago and now, at Mark III, it too has moved with times, future-proofed.

VERDICT: Who doesn't want a private sun room like the one seen here?

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