A total of 8,488 houses were built in Ireland during 2012, according to new figures published by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).  This represents a drop of 1,992 or 19% on the figure for 2011 when a total of 10,480 houses were completed.

Despite the 2011 and 2012 each having set a low benchmark for the number of completed residential units, the CIF is also predicting that the coming year will see a further slight reduction.  This is based on the drop in residential unit commencements for the first 11 months of 2012.  Only 3,895 new units had been started by the end of November 2012, which is 336 units below the comparative figure for 2011 when work had begun on 4,231 units.  This represents a drop of 8%.

According to the latest CIF Housing Statistics Bulletin, the largest number of house completions during 2012 were in Dublin, Cork and Galway respectively.  In Dublin 1,266 units were completed, in Cork 1,213 were finished and a further 499 were built in Galway.  The largest percentage drops in house completions during 2012 were in Galway City (56% drop), Kilkenny (46% drop), Fingal (45% drop) Tipperary (41% drop), Carlow (39% drop) and Mayo (38% drop).  The number of units completed increased during 2012 in Limerick City (up 130%), Cork City (up by 95%), South Dublin (up by 38%), Longford (up by 29%), Sligo (up by 19%), Laois (up by 17%) and Louth (up 4%).

During the first 11 months of 2012 the largest number of commencements were also in Dublin (753 units), Cork (405 units) and Galway (350 units).  The biggest percentage drops in commencements took place in Cavan (down 79%), Waterford County (down 56%), Louth (down 46%) and Monaghan (down 36%).  There were increases in the number of commencements in Limerick, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, Dublin City, Cork City, South Dublin, Kildare, Galway and Wexford.

Speaking about the figures, CIF Director General Tom Parlon said, “2012 was a very difficult year for the Irish house building industry with the level of activity falling once more.  Previously the lowest level had been the 13,887 units that were built in 1970 when the records began, but the total for 2011 dropped below that mark and 2012 has seen a further fall in completions.

“There is no doubt that house building reached unsustainable levels during the boom years, but the industry has now gone through six successive years of decline.  The ESRI estimates that this country requires 15,000 – 20,000 new homes to be built each year but we are significantly below that figure.

“Unfortunately it looks like we will see another slight reduction in house building in 2013.  The level of commencements for the first eleven months of 2012 were down by 8% on the same period for the year before.  A drop in the number of new builds commencing leads to a fall in the number of completions.

“We are hearing about work beginning on a number of new or housing developments or an expansion of existing projects so that may lead to an increase in completions for the latter half of 2013.   But overall the low commencement rate for 2012 has led us to forecast another drop in housing units built during the coming year.

“However there are some positive indicators which should start to impact on the sector soon.  The commencement figures detail an increase in new builds in urban areas.  This tallies with the increased demand for residential property in these areas which has been highlighted by the various property market commentators and estate agents.

“The banks have also promised to increase the level of mortgages during the coming 12 months.  If that funding is provided it should help stimulate the industry and lead to further demand, particularly in the urban areas where there are low levels of vacant housing stock as detailed in the latest National Housing Development Survey,” Mr. Parlon concluded.