The Skerries eco-housing estate made in Germany
A German eco-house company is to enter the Dublin market with a seaside scheme
The Baufritz HQ in Erkheim, Germany
Baufritz may not be a brand that most Irish people are aware of just yet, but a property developer in north Co Dublin is hoping a new collaboration with the German eco-housing company is about to change all that.
Subject to final planning approval from An Bord Pleanála, a new 24-property development of large family homes in Skerries (approximately between 3,000-4,000sq ft each) – branded Holmpatrick Cove – will mark the German family-owned company’s first venture into the Irish scene as it looks to capitalise on the recent upsurge in the housing market across the country.
The proposed development will see the components of the timber houses built in Baufritz’s German factory, before being shipped to Skerries for assembly by the company’s dedicated construction team.
In existence since 1896, Baufritz, located in the small Bavarian town of Erkheim, is regarded as a world leader in prefabricated timber homes, with an emphasis on combining their century-old craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technology and design, led in this neck of the woods by UK and Ireland managing director Oliver Rehm. Located deep in the flatlands of Bavaria, the company is the epicentre of the town, with a large percentage of its citizens employed by the design firm, and with Baufritz homes dotted throughout the area.
The construction method means that, once groundworks have been laid, the house is both built and made watertight in a matter of days, avoiding the long construction times of traditional building methods.
Once purchasers have made the decision to go ahead with a Baufritz home they are then booked in to visit the HQ where they will spend three to four days going through a fusillade of design options, from the overall timber structure of the design and exterior of the buildings, right down to the precise details, such as sink selection and colouring of everything from walls to floors to tiles. This period in Erkheim is spent in a guesthouse, with the purchasers taxied in and out of the factory each day, as they work through their construction choices with an assigned designer. Upon completion of this period all components of the building are then custom-made on site and shipped to the construction location, where the Baufritz team assemble the building.
Baufritz’s philosophy is based on using only natural, environmentally safe and recycled materials . Its emphasis on eco-design goes right down to the small details; such as using 100 per cent natural wood shavings for insulation as well as the use of the company’s in-house designed, low-energy light fittings.
The company already has a presence in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Spain, the US and has built almost 60 homes in the UK; however, the venture in Holmpatrick Cove marks their debut in Ireland in what will constitute their largest-ever development.
Holmpatrick Cove, located just outside Skerries town with a view out over the Irish Sea and St Patrick’s Island, has been given the go-ahead for planning by Fingal County Council in a development that will incorporate a hotel with leisure facilities and a swimming pool that will be open to the public. The plans indicate a low-build structure that will blend into the landscape as much as possible withe housing to the front of the site, enjoying the best sea views. The developers are Michael Branagan and Alison Ryan who are hoping to drive tourism to the north Dublin town while also addressing the need for top-of-the-market housing. They first came across the German company when it was featured in an episode of Channel 4 ’s Grand Designs a decade ago, and its environmentally -friendly credentials seemed right for the Skerries site which fronts on to the sea.
Baufritz’s ability to deliver homes with energy and running costs far below traditional builds was also a defining factor.
Branagan, an internet entrepreneur who set up Indigo – one of Ireland’s first internet providers, followed by Internet Ireland – which encompassed online portal Unison, is eager to get going on the new venture. “We’re very excited about the prospect of delivering such a pioneering project that addresses the needs of the town and respects the natural environment. As an established family-owned company, with an ethos that supports sensitive development, Baufritz was a natural match for us.”
The scheme is now at the final stages of planning with An Bord Pleanála, with a decision expected in the coming months. “We’re hoping for a final sign-off in mid-summer, hopefully mid-June.” said Branagan.
Work on Holmpatrick Cove is due to begin later in 2017, dependent on sales, which will largely be done off-plan. Construction work will only go ahead when 20 of the properties have been purchased, in order to minimise the disruption caused by the building of the roads and other infrastructure that will support the development. A number of sales have already been agreed with marketing for the remainder to begin later this spring.
With an anticipated cost-price ranging from €1.5 million to €2 million, Holmpatrick Cove is not cheap, but for those that can afford it, the development represents an enviable opportunity to be part of – and live in – one of Ireland’s most state-of-the-art residential communities.
Baufritz is already associated with some notable developments, including celebrity chef Gary Rhodes’ eco-restaurant, Rhodes South, in Dorset, which is now operating as The Jetty under chef Alex Aitken, and the company is currently in the process of shipping to the UK the finished design for the new home of a notable English composer, who has requested to remain anonymous.
Apart from the Skerries development, Baufritz plans to target Irish househunters with sites to build on and a yen for an eco-friendly home. Future private purchasers will be able to participate in the same thorough selection process as those buying in Holmpatrick Cove, with a three- to four-day stay in Erkheim to select the exact design of their spruce-wood structure, as well as all the other significant details from roofs, balustrades and glazing – right down to the kitchen sink.