‘We could see the sky through a hole in the roof – from downstairs’ – how one couple restored this stunning Victorian home

No3 St Peter’s Avenue Phibsborough, Dublin 7 Asking price: €595,000 Agent: Kelly Bradshaw Dalton (01) 804 0500

A couple buy an old house. The couple moved into the old house. Now, that old house is beginning to show its serious flaws time and time again. One by one, one by one, one by one…until the money is gone.

This is the plot money pitthe iconic 1986 homebuyer disaster comedy starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as the unfortunate couple who start falling apart immediately after buying their home and eat up all their cash.


Michael Fichtner in the reception room.Photo by Brian Mead

But it’s not so interesting if you find yourself playing the lead role in your own version of the story, as Michael Fichtner and his partner bought a Victorian house at 3 St Peter’s Avenue, Phibsborough, Dublin, in 2004. The early houses were found and planned to put their own stamp on them.

“We realised something was wrong the first night it rained. We woke up to find water running down the bedroom wall.” With funds severely constrained, the couple had to push the boat out to buy and plan a little bit Done little by little.unlike money pit Owner, after they buy it, there is no extra.

But every time they got involved in fixing a part, they found a deeper and more serious problem.

“I guess we were naive,” Michael said. “We did complete an investigation, but those people couldn’t get into the walls or the attic to find the real problem. The vendor told us that the roof was recently finished. We were sitting in the living room shortly after looking through one of the ceilings The hole and another hole in the floor above look up to the sky. We can see through two floors.” The problem wasn’t just the roof.

When the couple went to sand and varnish the wood floors, they found the floors had completely decayed. “All of that,” Michael said.

“We don’t really have a penny. When it rained, our parents took pity on us and kindly wrote us a check to get the roof fixed.” But it would get worse again. “We need to fix the sashes. My dad knows this guy and he’s very nice to help us. Turns out he’s in his eighties. He took a look at the frame and said ‘You can throw them in the skip, they’re done . “He had this 30-year-old collection of high-quality pine and offered to make a new set for us.”

But because of his age, it took them a long time in the rural window maker Samaritan. “For 18 months we had to live in a house without windows. We couldn’t ask him to hurry up because he was free. That’s when we were sitting in the living room with plywood on the front window and I really are thinking ‘what did we do?!

It was a rough time for the couple who had a falling out because of it, but they persevered and eventually things started to take shape.

Their window builder lives up to their word and beautiful new sashes have been delivered and installed. Little by little they started to solve other problems. “We had to tear down the interior walls. They had that old horsehair plaster. We couldn’t leave anything original, literally.”


Cobblestone pavement and exterior

With a new roof, new windows, new floors (salvaged wide panels) and new interior walls, they rewired, resurfaced and insulated the place. In addition to their new homes, the area is also starting to recover.

“The deed for the house says it was built in 1837, and we think these are two-up, two-down homes for railroad workers.” The house overlooked the old Phoebesboro train when they purchased the property. The ruins of the station, and the abandoned Broadstone line.


Aerial view of house and Luas line

But in the years that followed, Luas expanded and now almost stops at their doorstep. The row of houses at St Peter’s is accessed via a raised ramp that runs over a planted cobblestone path outside their door. At the same time, DIT began developing its new centralized university campus in nearby Grangegorman.

In addition to the new window frames, they also installed working shutters, which double as shutters and winter insulators, as they were designed when they were first installed on these homes the year Queen Victoria came to the throne.


Michael’s home studio for his graphic design work

“Most homes seem to have a staircase leading to an attic and our attic must have been demolished at some point. So we restored ours and turned the top floor into a home office. I am a graphic designer and it Essentially my home studio. The interior look of the house has been organically achieved over the years. We don’t really go out and buy things, we just pick up when we come across something we like.”


One of the double bedrooms

They installed new bathrooms and a modern kitchen. A nice touch is a row of backlit vintage top hats and various headgear hanging from glass stems on top of the kitchen unit.

“They were actually sitting on martini glasses. We had a tradition that when we had a couple of people coming back to drink and the music was on, everyone who danced had to wear a hat.”

Another inspired option is a massive marine aquarium built into the wall of the master bathroom where fish are relocated after the planned move.

“We have lovely clownfish there and our fish are temporarily staying in the tank at Temple Street Hospital until we are sorted.”

Once the house has evolved into its finished state, they are free to enjoy its location. “It’s great for work and socialising. You can walk into town and all the great restaurants, bars and clubs are within easy reach.” But now that the couple has matured, living in the city centre is less appealing to them strength. “We’re looking for a quieter life in this country. So now we’re selling. I’m guessing the new owners will likely be another couple in their thirties, like when we first bought it.”

As such, the house has been put on the market through Kelly Bradshaw Dalton, asking €595,000.

From the cobblestone avenue, you take a short step into the lobby, where the hardwood floors and teardrop detail fan lights shine on the doors. Living room features underfloor heating, gorgeous open fireplace, upgraded sashes with shutters, wall panelling and high ceilings.
The custom handcrafted modern kitchen has dark units against orange feature walls, exposed limestone and brick walls and a coffee station.

There is a family room with 9″ hardwood floors with skylights, underfloor heating and access to the garden.

Upstairs master bedroom and bedrooms both have window frames and underfloor heating.

The bathroom has stone tile floors and rain shower as well as some hidden storage space.
Upstairs is another loft room with enough space for a double bed, as well as a workstation and lots of shelving. The house faces the Luas Green line station, although it’s a 20 minute walk to O’Connell Street and within walking distance to Phoenix Park, Mater Hospital, DIT and Grangegorman.

So for Fichtner and his partner, it all worked out in the end. They are lucky.

The Markowski family who bought the real thing money pit The house, acquired for $2.12 million in the 2002 film in Long Island’s Ratingtown, later reported: “We didn’t realize how bad it was.”
They spent $6 million to get everything right, and they ended up selling it three years ago for $3.5 million.

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