Thursday 25 May 2017

Good policies to end housing crisis rely on accurate data

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

There has been an ongoing debate over the accuracy of official housing completion figures for some time, with academics and others raising concern that using ESB connections doesn't tell the story.

The reason is because a house may have been built in 2011, but not connected to the grid until 2013. That means it's 'technically' completed in one year, but the reality is far different. In addition, a house can also be reconnected to the electricity network, so that too skews the data.

The fact that Census 2016 finds that just under 33,500 homes were completed in the five years to April 2016, but the official data suggests around 48,000, is a cause for concern, It's worth noting that some 114,000 census forms did not state the year in which the property was completed, and there are problems assessing the age of the 200,000 vacant units across the country.

The final housing report from the CSO is due later this month, and will presumably paint a more complete picture and answer some questions. But it's clear a new way of recording house completions is needed.

DIT housing lecturer Lorcan Sirr points to the Building Control Management System as one possible solution. When a unit is completed, the builder must send in proofs it has been properly constructed to allow it to be sold.

It also captures one-off units, as builders have to notify the system they are opting out of the certification process, as is allowed.

Housing policy is only as good as the data behind it, so getting it right is key to solving the crisis.

Irish Independent

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