Matt Cooper – TV3 Ireland
In a new TV series to commence tonight at 9 pm on TV3 Ireland, broadcaster Matt Copper aims to tackle the issue of Ireland’s housing crisis. Advance indications of contributions from developer, Michael O’ Flynn, and the Chairman of the Housing Agency, Conor Skehan, make for what promises to be an interesting programme.
In an article in today’s Independent on the programme Conor Skehan, chairman of the Housing Agency, the government body set up in 2010 to advise on policy for housing, is quoted as saying he rents his home and has no intention of changing that. Asked about the perception that many people have of rent as ‘dead money’, Mr Skehan replied:
“Well, I’m the chairman of the Housing Agency and I will never buy a piece of property again. I rent.”
In today’s Irish Examiner’s article on the same programme developer Michael O’Flynn was critical of current attitudes towards developers and suggested increasing housing output could not happen without speculative input. O’Flynn is quoted as saying:
“I can’t see this market recovering without developers. But there are people who don’t believe there is any role for developers. And when that crazy misunderstanding exists by a lot of people in this country, you are not going to solve the development situation.”
It remains to be seen if the implications on housing output of the Building Control Regulations (SI.9), introduced earlier this year, get an airing in the programme particularly on the self-build sector. Recent Central Statics Office figures would appear to suggest that speculatively built dwellings account for a small percentage of current housing output. In 2013 approximately 8,300 dwellings were completed. Only 16%, 1,326, were registered with House Guarantees and speculatively built. This suggests that almost 7,000 homes constructed in 2013 were once-off houses commissioned by owners or self-built.
The representative body for self-builders (IAOSB) have conservatively estimated the percentage of houses built by owners at over 30% of the total in any given year. The percentage may currently be much higher.
In a recent IAOSB letter to the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly T.D., the catastrophic effect of the hastily introduced and vaguely worded SI.9 building regulations, accelerating a slump in this significant sector of home building, was described:
“SI.9 is pricing many lower-end self-builders out of the market. These are at the lower cost end, where owners were hoping to build better quality homes cheaper, on a phased basis, than speculative housing. Over €40,000 extra to build a €180,000 house is an extraordinary cost, and these are the real-world numbers our members are coming back with to us. …What benefit do self-builders get for the huge costs of SI.9?
We have undertaken surveys of members and to date, for this year, we estimate that between 800 and 1,000 dwelling projects have been abandoned by self builders trying to build a home for their families.”
It would appear that policy and indeed regulation is being driven by responses to the speculative residential sector, and at 16% of the market we wonder is the tail wagging the dog?