Peter and Kate Maloney first spotted the planning application for Belarmine Woods while out for a Sunday stroll in Stepaside more than two years ago. Their third child, Matthew, had just arrived, and space was getting tight in their two-bed townhouse in Dublin 18 down the road.
“We’d been looking at properties in the second-hand housing market, but every home we viewed had queues down the road of families outbidding each other, it was depressing,” says Kate, a primary school teacher who admits to being a fastidious planner and not one for hedging her bets.
“Even if you did get a bid accepted, most of the houses needed work or possibly an extension. So it was a complete gamble how much money and effort was at the other side of the process to get the home you wanted.”
Intrigued by the new scheme, Peter, a director in property firm Colliers, studied the planning application registered for Belarmine Woods (with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council) and researched previous projects by the developer, Castlethorn Construction. He was certain this development would work for them as a family.
“The location, the house sizes, the finish and the price point were spot on; Kate and the kids used to walk down to talk to the foreman of the site to find out more about the development and try to elicit when the launch date would be,” Peter says.
“All this research gave us plenty of time to get our ducks in line: put our house on the market, get the new mortgage application through and deal with the sudden government hike in deposit requirements to 20 per cent, which was a big hurdle to overcome.”
By the time the Ventura-designed showhouse opened to the public last September, the Moloneys were first in line and secured a south-facing, five-bedroom home at a prime spot in the development.
One of the big bonuses of buying a new build for the Moloneys was the cost transparency.
“It’s very reassuring knowing there are going to be no surprises financially. Almost everything was included in the list price from all the kitchen and utility room appliances right through to the garden and the paint finishes, all of which were high-spec,” says Peter.
It took four months from putting down their deposit to getting the keys to their new home in January of this year.
“From the moment we moved in the entire experience has exceeded all our expectations,” says Kate. “Even though I’d been looking at the plans and the building progress for months on end, I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect and what struck me first is the amount of space we now have.
“All the kids have their own rooms; there’s a big spare room for guests, plenty of bathrooms and we’ve this great open-plan living space downstairs, but with dividing doors, so you can shut out the cartoons when needed.
“And I love having everything in the house brand new and shiny at the same time; it’s just such a fresh start, and it’s completely changed how our family lives and interacts for the better.”
Sense of community
As it’s a new estate, everyone else who has moved in is going through the same transition and experiences.
“Most of the residents are like us with young families, so the sense of community and neighbourhood spirit is amazing. Everyone looks out for each other and keeps an eye on the children playing outside,” Peter says.
“Last weekend was Halloween, and it felt like we were at a festival abroad. All the residents were out on the road celebrating and almost every second house was hosting a party for the kids and adults,” says Peter.
On a more practical note, the families’ last two heating bills have been in credit as the house has a solar panel on the roof and a heat recovery system in the attic.
“If we turn the heat on for half an hour in the morning, that’s enough to keep us toasty all day,” says Peter.
And all the rest of the utilities are only a fraction of what they used to be in their significantly smaller two-bedroom townhouse. “There’s so much technology for energy-efficiency involved in the house, it came with a user’s manual,” says Kate.
When pushed for any downsides to their new home, the Moloneys genuinely can’t come up with a single negative.
“We’ve zero regrets. The location is amazing with lots of schools, amenities, and space for the kids to grow up in. We’re at the foot of the Dublin Mountains, so it’s a stunning area and yet the M50 is minutes away. If I had to nitpick, there are no fireplaces as it’s a sealed house, which doesn’t bother us in the slightest but I know for some that may be a deal-breaker,” says Kate.
Peter says: "One tip I'd give to anyone buying a new build is to hire an architect to do the snag list just before you close. My brother, Bernard Moloney of Moloney O'Beirne Architects, insisted he did ours and even though I work in the property industry and assumed I'd be more than capable, he spotted so many little things that we hadn't even clocked could be potential issues.
“So it’s well worth the small investment. Other than that, just do as much research as possible and if that means stalking the site foreman so be it; ours has now become a good friend. So do whatever it takes to make it happen.”