New-build home starts up 25% on same month last year, says Department of Housing

Figures cautiously welcomed by homeless charities who emphasise ‘delivery of social housing must be maintained’

The number of starts for new build homes last month is 25 per cent higher than the same period last year, according to the Department of Housing.

The data, published on Thursday, show that commencement notices for 2,574 new homes were received by building control authorities in June 2023, compared to 2,060 units in June 2022.

According to the department, 15,561 new homes were started in the first six months of the year, a 10 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Of the new homes started so far this year, 2,297 are single residential units.


The figures were cautiously welcomed by homeless charities with newly appointed chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust Francis Doherty saying he wanted to see the number of new starts increase.

“It’s great to see them up so significantly versus last year and the overall trend for the year being up as well because obviously in terms of the homeless crisis, the figures have been going in the wrong direction for a number of months and we need new supply, new availability of homes in order to address that,” Mr Doherty said.

“But the other thing, to caveat that is the important thing will also be as to what type of homes are being built, and what type of homes are represented in those commencement figures. If you’re looking at homelessness and you’re looking at the wider social housing list the biggest pressure and the biggest need is on one- and two-bedroom homes, so it’s not just about the overall volume of homes that we’re going to deliver,” he said.

“It’s making sure that the homes that are commencing and getting closer to the delivery are actually going to be represented over the wider social housing need and not just too heavily weighted in maybe what’s most profitable for the market to build which would be the traditional three and four bedroom homes.”

Depaul chief executive David Carroll said that any improvement in the rate of commencements is encouraging.

“To see any significant reduction in homelessness the commencement and delivery of social housing must be maintained and increased and we encourage the government to increase the funding and targets for the building of social housing units in Budget 2024,” said Mr Carroll.

A spokeswoman for the Dublin Simon Community said it welcomed any increase in the delivery and commencement of homes.

“The increase is a positive one for those who are seeking new homes, and shows that some of the measures in place are having an impact,” she said. “However, as a charity working on the frontline of the homelessness crisis, we are yet to see that increase translating into any substantial exits from emergency accommodation into social housing on a scale that reduces homelessness figures.”

The local authorities that received the lowest number of commencement notices so far in 2023 are Leitrim and Roscommon County Councils, with 63 each. In June, only one residential unit was started in Galway city.

A commencement notice is a notification to a building control authority that a person intends to carry out either works or a material change of use to which building regulations apply.

The notice must be given to the authority between 14 and 28 days before work or change of use begins.

Once the notice is validated by the building control authority, works must begin on site within 28 days.

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O’Donoghue

Ellen O'Donoghue is an Irish Times journalist