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How To Buy A Site, Irish Style

Posted by joeirish , 22 January 2015 · 812 views

We had decided that we wanted to move to the Mountshannon area. We have a few friends there, it is a nice little village, has a small farmer's market, an arts festival, three nice pubs and one little restaurant, tapas bar type place., lovely little harbour and surrounding areas. But where to find a site?

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Meelick Bay on Lough Derg just a couple of miles from Mountshannon
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Mountshannon Harbour in the evening.

Conversations with some friends mentioned a couple of local farmers. And one day out cycling around the lanes we bumped into a friend and asked if he knew where Liam P. lived. "Just up there" he said pointing to a nearby house. "Actually there he is in the garden". So off we cycled.

Now you don't just ask straight out in (this part of rural) Ireland about things, you kind of talk around the topic.
"Nice day".
"Grand, but they promise rain" (why is it that bad weather is always promised in Ireland?)
"Lovely views from here"
"Ah you get used to them but I suppose they are"
"I see you have horses"
"I used to run a riding school and now just keep some for the grand children. I have some donkeys as well dotted around the place, great for keeping the grass down"

And then the questions about where we come from. How come we are cycling round here. Do you know so and so etc etc.

After about twenty minutes we mention that even though we only live about six miles away as the crow flies over the mountain (we we call it a mountain!) we are thinking of moving to Mountshannon. That elicits so information about houses that are for sale or might be coming up for sale in the near future. One is near a place we had looked around on the outskirts of the village. We hum and haw about this and Liam offers to take us up and show us as it's a holiday home. We arrange to meet up the next day.

So we go and see this house. Modern(ish) bungalow but in a nice spot. Not really what we are after but maybe something could be done to improve it. And while we are there Liam says he needs to check the donkeys in the next field. His field. In fact several acres of fields that belong to him and his wife, she having inherited it a few years ago. He points out that the new house being built just up the road is on a site he had sold. But that this holiday bungalow could be a fine place for us. We decide that this is not for us and tell him that we would prefer to build our own house from scratch.

We visit donkeys, look at horses. Examine the public footpath (part of the East Clare way) that cuts through his land. And then he casually mentions that he might have a site for sale if we were really interested in building our own place but that it would be a lot of work and his friend would like to sell the bungalow. And so on for another while. But he shows us around anyway. Three different potential sites. Unremarkable fields from the roadside but from the field itself, well let's just say we were smitten. But you can't let on.

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The approach to the site, Lough Derg in the distance

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The site taken from the neighbour's house, the holiday bungalow.

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Another view of the site.

"Bit boggy" I say.
"Well you'd be building a house on that bit anyway so that would all be drained. And it has been particularly wet just recently".

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Very wet site!

Off we go our separate ways. the next day Nicki and me come back. Walk all three fields, discover our friends live just down a little drive next to one of these. And essentially make up our minds to buy this all being well. Price, permission to build, etc etc.

Two weeks later we make an offer, have to raise it a little and hey ho, we have an agreement to purchase subject to planning permission. And the more we visit the site the more we worry about somebody else gazumping us. We talk to a friend who tells us he had tried to buy that site some years previously but couldn't sell his own place so had to drop out. "Best site in Mountshannon without a doubt" he says. "But I was going to pay twice what you got it for, the recession has been good for you!".

So to try and make sure we don' get gazumped we offer to pay a deposit.
"No need, I won't sell to anybody else now that you have made your offer. I'm a man of principle."

Still we insist and he agrees to take €500 deposit (between 1% and 2% of the cost) but says he won't spend it, in fact he'll keep it at home in the envelope and return it if we can't get planning or want to pull out for any reason. So now for planning permission.

May 2018

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