Modular homes could be permanent housing, says Kelly

Minister says prefabricated units in Ballymun ‘beat normal houses’ on many standards

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly with TD John Lyons in a modular home at Balbutcher Lane, Poppintree, Ballymun, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Modular homes, similar to those that will accommodate homeless families in Dublin, could be used as permanent housing across the State.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly described the first 22 modular homes in Ballymun, due to have their first occupants by the end of February, as "fantastic".

“They are amazing quality. They are indistinguishable from any other form of house and on many of the standards they actually beat normal houses.”

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly with TD John Lyons visiting the site of a modular housing project at Balbutcher Lane, Poppintree, Ballymun, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

In addition to these first 22 modular homes, 135 will be provided at four other locations in the Dublin City area – at Finglas and Darndale on the northside and at Crumlin and Ballyfermot on the southside of the city.


In all 500 modular homes will be provided across the four Dublin local authority areas, as emergency housing for homeless families.

Emergency accommodation

The latest figures, for December 2015, showed there were 683 families, with 1,409 children in emergency accommodation in Dublin. Of these 466 families with 966 children were in hotels, typically in single rooms without cooking or laundry facilities.

Modular homes are manufactured in factory settings, according to building regulations and specifications, and assembled at speed on site. Western Building Systems, a Northern Irish firm, won the €4.2 million contract for the 22 units at Ballymun.

Each of the three-bedroom Ballymun homes is 900sq ft with separate living and kitchen areas. They are ‘A’ energy rated, with triple-glazed windows and solar panels. Semi-solid oak floors are throughout.

They took 25 working days to construct on the site on Balbutcher Lane, which was a green-field site before work commenced, opposite a mixed residential estate, and adjacent to newly built homes constructed as part of the Ballymun regeneration project.

The families who will move into the homes, all from hotels, have links to the general Ballymun/Finglas/Glasnevin areas. This will ensure they remain close to children’s schools and their community supports, while they seek long-term accommodation.

Asked whether there was scope for modular housing to be used as permanent housing, Mr Kelly said there was, and invited local authorities to consider it.

“Yes I believe there is scope. Certainly I believe local authorities will have the opportunity, under the new framework which I have signed and put in place, they can deliver these in a rapid way all over the country.”

Under new framework, local authorities have greater autonomy to proceed with smaller housing developments, of fewer than 20 units and of €2 million or less, without having to go through lengthy planning and submission processes with the department for environment. Once approved for funding they may proceed.

“Local authorities now will have the choice to use this and use this in any way that they see fit. I think that is a very welcome thing and it’s something I am delighted we have left in the department for local authorities to be able to use,” said Mr Kelly.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times