Wednesday 28 September 2016

Apartments to be downsized to speed up home building

Published 29/07/2015 | 02:30

Dublin City Council plans to allow up to seven per cent of units in developments of 100 homes or more to be just 45 square metres, 10 square metres less than the current minimum size
Dublin City Council plans to allow up to seven per cent of units in developments of 100 homes or more to be just 45 square metres, 10 square metres less than the current minimum size

Minimum apartment sizes in Dublin city will be reduced to lower building costs and speed up delivery of new homes.

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Dublin City Council plans to allow up to seven per cent of units in developments of 100 homes or more to be just 45 square metres, 10 square metres less than the current minimum size.

But developers will only be allowed build the smaller homes if they provide extra facilities such as gyms or community and laundry rooms for residents.

The council is also proposing that they are not sold as private homes, but are solely used for the rental market.

The chair of the council's planning committee, Labour councillor Andrew Montague, said the city needed to build up to 5,000 homes a year to cater for population growth, but that just 900 a year were being provided.

"We're way short of what we need to produce, which is why rents are rising and homelessness remains a problem," he said. "We're looking at things we can modify which could reduce the cost of building."

Currently, some 85pc of apartments in the city must be dual aspect, or have windows on at least two walls. That is adding up to €20,000 to building costs per unit. The council is proposing allowing this be reduced to 50pc.

Developers using upper floors of existing buildings, which are only occupied on the ground floor, can also build the smaller homes which could yield up to 20,000 units.

Mr Montague said the proposals, which will be put out for public consultation in October, would result in less than five per cent of all units being of 45 square metres.

The council is also proposing removing the requirement to provide one car parking space per home, if there is other car parking available and if it is close to public transport.

Meanwhile, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has sharply criticised changes to the building control system which exempts one-off homes and house extensions from being inspected. Under the existing rules, a construction expert must certify that homes are built in line with the regulations, which raised concerns that the regime was adding to building costs.

Inspection

Housing and Planning Minister Paudie Coffey said the rules would be changed so that people building their own homes would not be forced to undergo the certification process.

The CIF said the changes would lead to "greater uncertainty" for future purchasers of these properties.

"Under these new rules, new one-off homes and house extensions will not be subject to a formal inspection and certification by an assigned certifier, leading to a two-tier regulatory system for those in the housing market," said CIF director general Tom Parlon.

Housing expert Dr Lorcan Sirr said the changes were "irresponsible", and there was "no point" in having standards without inspections. He also claimed there were more dog wardens than housing inspectors across local authorities.

Irish Independent

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