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Surge in house completion rates masks underlying problems, warns industry

Words: Roger Milne
Dalkey, Ireland

Latest official figures on house completions indicate an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year. But analysis of this apparent surge in building activity suggests it is happening in the wrong areas and is well below the rate needed to meet demand.

That’s the assessment of industry professionals who have commented on the figures published recently by the Department of the Environment. These showed that 5,625 houses and flats have been completed so far this year, an increase of 801 units on the same period in 2014.

Almost half of the totals are one-off properties, while there has been a sharp drop in two of the biggest Dublin local authority areas and a key commuting county.

Just 313 homes have been built in Dublin city, down 36 per cent; some 141 have been completed in south Dublin, a drop of 43 per cent, while completions have also fallen in Wicklow by 63 per cent to 183.

The country’s Housing Agency has warned that 21,000 units a year are needed every year to cater for a growing population and to meet pent-up demand.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said almost half of all homes completed in the first six months will never be sold on the open market.

"Housing output this year will be less than half that needed to meet demand. It will take time to restore the industry to a sustainable level," said Hubert Fitzpatrick, CIF director of housing, planning and development.

Housing output fell in seven local authority areas - Dublin City, Wicklow, Wexford, Westmeath, South Dublin, Roscommon and Carlow.