One-off homes on rise as house construction hits new low

Fri, Aug 3, 2012, 01:00

THE NUMBER of houses being built has hit a record low, with fewer than 4,000 completed and only 393 having been registered to start construction in the first six months of this year.

Just 3,929 homes were built to the end of June, the lowest number since these kinds of records began in 1975. The majority were one-off houses, suggesting a return to the “bungalow blight” of the 1980s.

Indications are that the rate of construction will continue to fall with the number of houses registered with local authorities prior to construction at 393. In four counties – Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon – no construction was registered.

Last year was the worst year on record for housebuilding, with just 15,807 homes finished by the end of the year.

However, 2012 is likely to be worse still, with 5,327 houses completed by the end of June last year, 1,398 more than this year.

At the height of the property boom in 2006 more than 137,000 houses were built, but even when the market had been at a low in the late 1980s there were still considerably more houses being built. In 1988, the worst year for construction before the current recession, more than 23,000 new homes were completed.

Although the numbers achieved in 2006 were unprecedented, 2007 was actually the second highest year for construction with 116,805 houses built. It was not until 2008 that the drop became significant with numbers falling to just under 80,000. Thereafter, numbers plummeted to just over 40,000 in 2009, 21,772 in 2010, and then down to 15,807 last year.

The profile of homes being constructed has also dramatically changed. In 2006 only a quarter of homes built were one-off houses. The majority, 52 per cent, were in housing estates while just under a quarter were apartments.

In 2008 these ratios began to change with the number of individual houses built having increased to one-third of all homes constructed. By 2010 more than half of homes constructed were one-off houses. Last year it had risen to 62 per cent with the number of estate houses down to a quarter and apartments accounting for under 13 per cent.

The indications are that similarly high numbers of one-off houses will be built this year as already 2,436 of the 4,000 houses built are one-off. Just under 1,000 houses have been completed in estates and just 496 apartments have been built.

The one-off houses are concentrated in rural counties – 320 individual houses and 13 apartments have been built in Cork this year. In Dublin 39 one-off houses and 94 apartments have been built.