Rapid-build technologies to facilitate delivery of 1,800 social homes

Department of Housing to target new prefabricated processes to speed up housing construction

New rapid-build, prefabricated technologies will be used to deliver approximately 1,800 social homes over the next two years as the Department of Housing targets more innovative construction processes to break the housing logjam.

The department believes the use of more innovative building techniques, such as modular housing, can speed up delivery times and reduce costs while creating more energy-efficient homes.

As part of its latest Housing for All update on Tuesday, it published a “Roadmap for increased adoption of modern methods of construction in public housing delivery”.

“Modern methods of construction” is an umbrella term for a range of new and innovative construction techniques. The private sector construction industry here already uses prefabricated timber frames in about 48 per cent of new homes.


The department believes design-built modern methods of construction techniques can reduce delivery times on typical social housing projects from 18 to 12 months, resulting in significant cost savings.

Officials confirmed that some 1,800 new-build social homes over the next two years would be delivered using the new approach. The hope is that the majority of the 9,000-10,000 social housing units to be delivered each year under the Housing for All strategy can eventually utilise these new technologies.

Minister of Housing Darragh O’Brien has established a €100 million fund to pay down local authority loans on sites which can deliver social housing projects using such technologies.

Local authorities are currently carrying approximately €300 million in land legacy debt, relating to loans taken out to buy land for the purpose of developing housing. Land debt on 26 sites, worth €94 million, has so far been refunded by the department “contingent” on the local authority developing housing projects using the new technologies and design-built procurement that would commence construction in 2023 or 2024.

Overall, 35 sites across 12 local authorities have been earmarked for development using prefabricated technologies with the department identifying 10 housing types that can be delivered on the sites.

The benefits of using the new technologies or more standardised design depend on scale but various reports have indicated that they can potentially deliver a 20-60 per cent reduction in delivery time, a 20-40 per cent reduction in costs and a 70 per cent reduction in on-site labour and embodied carbon.

“Modern methods of construction have the potential to dramatically improve construction sector productivity, innovation, speed of delivery, sustainability and ultimately costs,” the department said. “The State is leading by example in embedding these innovative methods into its public housing programme.”

Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan said: “The adoption of modern methods of construction has the potential to significantly improve construction sector productivity and sustainability while also reducing costs.”

“The ‘roadmap for increased adoption of modern methods of construction in public housing delivery’ represents a major public sector innovation and transformative initiative that will enable an increase in procurement of new homes using modern methods of construction,” he said.

“It will complement the output of the forthcoming Timber in Construction Working Group so that we can build sustainable housing at a lower cost using home-grown materials.”

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times