Sick of sky high rents, three friends bought a house together

Three friends lovingly shared and renovated this 130sq m house in Stoneybatter

  • Address: 46 Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, D7
  • Price: € 645,000
  • Agent: SherryFitzGerald
 

For the many currently renting and keen to buy but who find themselves already priced out of the market, one strategy might be to unite and conquer. This is what one trio of friends did in the early 2000s to increase their purchasing power.

Seventeen years ago, three friends: Peter Carroll, principal architect at award-winning A2 Architects, fellow architect Philip Crowe and musician Liz McLaren could see that it made more financial sense to buy than to rent, but unable to afford to do so individually they set about buying a house together.

Standard mortgage agreements did not facilitate this type of house loan even though all three were in full-time employment.

46 Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7: 130sq m Victorian property has an asking price of €645,000.
46 Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7: 130sq m Victorian property has an asking price of €645,000.

“We weren’t related to each other or in relationships so the banks had difficulty in accepting our suggestion of a three-way mortgage,” Carroll recalls. Eventually Pat Keane Mortgage Services secured them a deal but their first port of call was a solicitor, Greg Winters of Gartlan Winters on Dublin’s Dorset Street. “Our agreement was a lot like a civil partnership,” Philip says.

They agreed a budget limit and with funds in place they unfurled a map of the city, scoured it for terraces with southwest facing rears and happened on number 46 Aughrim Street, just a minute’s walk from North Circular Road and about a seven-minute walk to the gates of the Phoenix Park.

Crucially, the 130sq m/1399sq ft Victorian property had three rooms of almost equal size, that each of the purchasers could claim as a bedroom, as well as another room they could rent out to help with the mortgage. The three paid €311,000 for the property in 2001, laying down a 15 per cent deposit and setting up a shared bank account.

“We agreed that we wouldn’t sell the house within five years to allow the investment to mature but if anyone moved out within that period they would have to sublet their room,” Philip says.

Circumstances change

Five years is a realistic time frame, Peter says. “Circumstances change, job opportunities arise, relationships blossom.”

They also agreed that if anyone wanted to get out of the deal they would have to sell with the first option going to the others to buy the party out at market value, that value being determined by the median value of quotes from three different estate agents.

46 Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7: 130sq m Victorian property has an asking price of €645,000.
46 Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7: 130sq m Victorian property has an asking price of €645,000.

Trust is critical, he continues. “You need to know who you’re entering into a relationship with, you have to be flexible and able to compromise.” Their agreement also included a very carefully written will.

With the paperwork done, they then rolled up their sleeves and spent every evening and weekend dealing with property’s refurbishment.

The trio tackled dry rot in the eaves, stripped plaster, repointed the brickwork to the front and lifted all the suspended timber floors to seamlessly replace all the joists. The original floors look like they’ve never been touched.

The result is a lovely townhouse true to its origins with all the creature comforts of modern life too. Even professional architects need some help and contractors were taken on to install new electrical, heating and plumbing systems as well as a low-cost yet cool-looking plywood kitchen with a terrazzo floor by Colm Ryan of PJ Ryan and Sons that has really stood the test of time. 

Old ceilings

Structural engineer David Maher refurbished the old ceilings, while builders were hired on a direct labour basis. In addition, lots of favours were called in from friends and colleagues – which may be easier to do in your 20s when you have a larger circle of friends.

46 Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7: 130sq m Victorian property has an asking price of €645,000.
46 Aughrim Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7: 130sq m Victorian property has an asking price of €645,000.

Now they are selling 46 Aughrim Street seeking €645,000 through agent SherryFitzGerald.

At hall level there is fine original plasterwork in the hall and interconnecting reception rooms where there are also matching white marble fireplaces. During the friends’ tenure, the dining room was used as a bedroom, while the main bedroom upstairs to the front was in use as a sitting room. There is a second bedroom on the first floor, overlooking the rear and a third on the return below where there is also a small shower room

The main bathroom is to the rear of the kitchen and this is where a new owner might seek to extend and maximise the southwest aspect.

As well as getting on to the property ladder we all got incredibly fit in the process, Peter laughs. “Youth helped, but this is a model that will work with people in their 30s, 40s and 50s too,” he says.  

“Banks need to wake up to the reality that the nuclear family is not the only type buying property in Ireland. There are Georgian and Victorian properties in our cities that are underused but if groups of people could buy together you could have a very plausible model for repopulating our towns and city centres on a shared living basis.

“We were the sharing economy before the term had ever been invented.”