21 June 2015
The cross party Oireachtas Committee on Housing and Homelessness published their 157 page report on Friday 17th June 2016. The report covers nine areas including private housing, the private rented sector, mortgage difficulties and Nama. It makes 23 key recommendations and up to 80 overall. See full report HERE.
Committee chair John Curran from Fianna Fáil described it as “evidence-based” and he “sincerely hoped” it would be central to Mr Coveney’s considerations in drawing up Government strategy to tackle what many members called the “housing emergency”. A key recommendation is the funding of 10,000 social houses a year over the next five years with a capital cost about €1.8 billion a year.
Key issues for private housing are listed in section 3 (p46).
- The number of houses built nationally by the private sector has declined by 85% from 2004 to 2014, with a national decline of 90% in the social housing sector. The number of new house completions peaked at 93,019 in 2006 and has declined significantly in subsequent years.
- It is estimated that an average of almost 21,000 additional residential units per year is required over the period covering 2015 – 2017 in order to keep up with demand. Dublin, in particular, requires additional housing units.
- The Housing Agency state that 14% of private housing stock in Ireland is vacant (based on Census 2011 figures). The Agency recommends that this is better managed.
- Projected future housing demand is most pronounced in the Greater Dublin Area regions of Dublin and the Mid-East, which accounts for almost half of the units of identified demand by the Housing Agency
The Housing Committee Section of the Report on Private Housing had 11 Recommendations, and No 7 is:
Introduce a pilot scheme regarding the operation of the building control regulations and the related system of certification to establish if a model of building control similar to that used in the UK could result in a substantial reduction in the cost of building control and inspection.
Northern Ireland has a 100% independent Local Authority Building Control inspection system with just 40 full-time state inspectors which is self-funded. Why not roll-out self-funded system in Ireland based on this model?
Recommendation no 7 could have immediate massive cost savings. In November 2015 former President of Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Robin Mandal noted the hours needed to administer main certifier roles under building control administrative procedures (BCAR SI.9) introduced in 2014 “If you think of 25,000 houses a year, 109 [man hours] that’s two, nearly three million man hours’ for a normal functioning housing sector of 25,000 houses (see here). This suggests that the cost for twice this number, 50,000 houses, will be over €500m for the social housing programme alone. In contrast, the total number of inspectors needed for the entire construction sector would be €15m per annum, a significant saving to the consumer, taxpayer and industry.
To put these numbers in context, 6 million ‘man hours’ to administer BCAR for 50,000 houses will require 3,750 professionals. The UK has the same number of building control staff despite having a construction output of 16 times that of Ireland.
The Oireachtas report recommendation seems entirely reasonable and very practical.
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