Number of new house starts continues to grow

The number of new houses being built in most urban areas around the country continues to grow, according to the statistics released by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).  According to the latest CIF Housing Statistics Bulletin, there has been a further increase in new house starts in Dublin, Cork and Galway during the first five months of 2013.  Overall the number of new unit starts around the country increased by 0.4% to 1,665 from 1,659 during the same period in 2012. 

Dublin saw the greatest increase in numbers with 361 units started during the January to May 2013 period, an increase of 72 units or 25% on the 2012 levels when 289 began construction.  Galway has experienced a 38% increase with 51 more units starting bringing the total to 184 in the first five months.  While there was also an increase in Cork house building activity, growing 23 units or 13% with 200 houses beginning construction up until the end of May 2013.

The largest percentage increase was in Carlow which rose by 63% to 26 units, Wicklow which grew by 59% to 35 units and Monaghan which was up 48% to 34 units.  Other areas to experience an increase in housing starts included Roscommon, Offaly, Donegal and Clare.

Several areas also experienced a decline in activity, with Limerick’s being the most pronounced. Work began on 41 units in Limerick during the first 5 months of 2013, a drop of 57% from the same period in 2012. Other noticeable decreases in activity were experienced in Sligo which declined by 51%, Cavan which dropped by 41% and Westmeath which fell by 31%.

The number of house completions has continued to decline, dropping 9% between the first five months in 2012 and the first five months of 2013.  In 2012 3,283 units had been finished by the end of May but this figure has fallen to 2,997 in 2013.

On a county by county basis the number of completions has experienced a strong variation in activity.  The number of finished houses grew in Wicklow (up 52%), Louth (up 50%), Kildare (up 27.5%) and Cavan (up 23%), amongst others.  While the number of completions dropped in Sligo (down 50%), Monaghan (down 44%), Laois (down 40%), Donegal (down 30%) and in several other counties.

In Dublin the number of completions fell from 426 in 2012 to 397 in 2013, with the decline in activity taking place in the Dublin City and South Dublin areas.  Dublin City saw the number of finished units fall from 187 to 166 in 2013, while in South Dublin it fell from 89 units to 39 this year.  The number of finished houses grew in Fingal from 119 in 2012 to 144 this year and that trend was repeated in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, going from 31 in 2012 to 48 in 2013.

There has also been an 85% increase in the number of house building guarantee registrations during the first 6 months of 2013, going from 339 in 2012 to 627 this year.

Speaking about the housing statistics, CIF Director of Housing, Hubert Fitzpatrick said, “These latest statistics are further evidence of the trend in house building.  What we are seeing is in most urban centres the supply is falling and this is creating a strong demand for new housing stock, prompting work to begin on new housing units.  We would expect to see the growth in new house starts continue in Dublin, Galway, Cork and certain other counties, particularly in some of the areas surrounding Dublin.

“What is also noticeable is that the number of housing schemes is on the increase.  In Dublin only 13% of the activity was for one off housing, with 87% of starts involving multiple units.  On a national basis during the first five months of 2013 multiple units made up 26% of the total starts, compared to 20% in 2012.  This emphasises that more sustained house building starting to take place, as opposed to recent years whereby one off housing has been the only real source of activity.

“The house completions figures are not surprising as we do expect there to be a further decline in finished units built this year from the 8,488 built in 2012.  With the number of housing starts slowly picking up and the declining level of vacant stock around the country, our expectation is that 2013 will mark the low point of house completions.  However future supply continues to be constrained by the shortage of development finance and the high costs of construction.  Availability of mortgage finance will also play a major role in determining how the market proceeds from this point,” Mr. Fitzpatrick concluded.