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Friday 19 September 2014

The Home Renovation Incentive is just one part of the solution

Published 29/08/2014 | 02:30

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THE shortage of new homes coming onto the market coupled with steep price rises is clearly leading to many homeowners extending or renovating.

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It's a much-needed boost for tradesmen and the construction sector, but also for companies keen to supply kitchens, windows, insulation and other essentials needed to create a warm and comfortable home.

The Home Renovation Incentive is one of those good ideas which is clearly working. The tax foregone is relatively modest, less than €30m, but the upsurge in demand among homeowners has fuelled a €155m spend, helping to create and sustain jobs.

Everybody should be very nervous about the steep price increases recorded in recent months, especially given that so few homes are being built.

The problem is likely to get worse before it gets better.

The Government should heed the words of philosopher Georges Santayana who said those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

The renovation scheme is just one of a number of policies needed to tackle the housing crisis. The Living City initiative is another, where occupiers of older buildings receive a tax break to renovate them.

But more are needed. There's no reason why older commercial buildings unsuitable as modern offices cannot be converted into apartments. There's a plethora of businesses with vacant floors above street level also suitable for housing.

A concerted effort should be made to get these buildings into use, sooner rather than later. That could take the form of new tax incentives ring-fenced for specific periods of time to fast-track delivery. The renovation incentive should also be extended.

More innovative thinking along the lines of the Home Renovation Incentive is needed so prices are curbed and people have the opportunity to own a home.

Irish Independent

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