Crumlin upgrade shows how old Corpos can shine for new families
With house prices in the capital now moving above Tiger era levels, couples hoping to stay in the city are looking to former Corpo homes as a more affordable option. Most of those built in the 1930s and 1940s require updating. But sometimes it’s worth the investment as shown by the upgraded home of Sinead and Conor Casey at 32 Clonmacnoise Road in Crumlin, a two-bed former Corpo in Dublin 12. “It’s only in hindsight that people are looking at these types of houses and saying they’re brilliant both in terms of their build and their size,” says architect Roger Bell, of Bell Associates who worked on No32 on behalf of the family.
“Dublin Corporation set a very high standard for housing at the time they were built. They’re amongst the best housing stock in the country.” Bell spent three months working on the house for Sinead Casey, who works as an accountant, and her husband Conor, a software tester, who bought the house in 2016. The couple now have two children, Caolán, who is 20 months old, and Naoise, three months old, but at the time it was just the two of them.
Both come from Cabinteely and had been renting in Rathmines. They wanted easy access to the city centre and amenities and to be able to cycle to work. Number 32 ticked all their boxes, being just two miles from the city centre. The house consisted of one big downstairs room which contained the living room and kitchen with a small conservatory at the back, and two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.
Bell decided to extend the house at the back and completely refurbish the interior. Given that the building was in good repair, it was an easy job. “It worked out really well. If the core structure of the house is good, you’re already onto a winner.” The old conservatory was demolished and replaced with, what is now, an extended open-plan kitchen/living area which opens on to a long garden at the back. Parapet detailing was included on the eaves of the house on both sides to allow neighbours to build up to the sides of the property if they want to, without interfering with the extension.
One of the considerations was the three-month timeframe. “We decided to avoid looking for planning permission for the extension to the rear so to avoid time wasting,” says Bell. “It also cut the cost of the job from the client’s perspective.” He explains that you can build up to 40 sq m without planning permission. “We built within a hair’s breadth on 32 Clonmacnoise Road,” he says.
The front of the house is the original structure and now has a living room, a hall, a wet room, and a utility room. Upstairs there are two bedrooms, one of them double, and a bathroom upstairs. They replumbed, rewired and insulated. They floored in porcelain tiles which look like wood. The property had a D BER rating, but it has been upgraded to a B. “It’s quite energy efficient,” says Sinead. “We’ve installed combi boilers, which provide hot water at any time of day at no extra cost. As a result, our energy bills are much lower.”
When it came to redesigning the interior, Sinead attempted to keep the old world feel at the front in the living room, with details like sash windows, a wood-burning stove and wooden mantelpiece made from reclaimed wood.The tropical themed garden is all Conor’s work. “I grow Japanese banana trees called Musa Bajoos. They’re very hardy so can be grown in Ireland,” he says. “I also have a fig tree, and I’m even growing grapes!”
With a growing family, Conor and Sinead now require more space and plan to move back to Cabinteely. “There’s a lovely community here in Crumlin,” says Sinead. “There are lots of places to eat out and nice coffee shops. We’re also very near Eamonn Ceannt park, which has a playground, and we go walking there nearly every day with the kids. It’s been a great house to live in, but it is time to move back to Cabinteely now.”