Number of new buildings plummeted nationwide last year
THE number of new buildings recorded across Ireland slumped by more than a third in 2013, new data shows.
The numbers appear to pour cold water on early signs of a recovery in the construction sector.
Some 7,943 new commercial and residential buildings were recorded in 2013, down 36pc on the number recorded in 2012.
The figures compare starkly to 2007, when a massive 96,000 new units were built.
The statistics come from GeoDirectory, an organisation backed by An Post and Ordinance Survey Ireland and which manages Ireland's only complete database of commercial and residential buildings.
Dublin was the only county in the country to record an increase in the number of buildings during the year.
Carlow saw the worst declines, with a 78pc decrease in new buildings.
Just 48 new buildings were detected in the south-east county during 2013.
Louth saw the second best result after Dublin, with new builds down by just 3pc.
"The data indicates that Dublin was the only county to achieve year-on-year growth in the number of new buildings, illustrating a widening gap which is emerging between Dublin and the rest of the country" said GeoDirectory chief executive Dara Keogh.
"While there were decreases in new build activity in all other counties, there were notable variations with the rates of decline ranging from 3pc to 78pc in individual counties."
The vast majority of the new buildings recorded, 6,750 of the 7,943 total, were residential.
Just 1,027 were commercial in nature while 166 were dual purpose.
The figures will dampen hopes of an early recovery in the construction sector.
Data from the final months of 2013 indicated the beginning of slow but sure growth for the industry - December's Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index, a closely watched gauge of the industry's health, recorded a 58.3 reading for the month. Any reading over 50 indicates expansion.
But commercial building is moving slower than residential building, and civil engineering remains in contraction mode.
While declining to say whether he thought his figures contradicted other more hopeful indicators, Mr Keogh said the GeoDirectory data "showed the realities on the ground".
It also revealed that the country's new builds have a higher-than-normal vacancy rate.
Of the new buildings recorded during the year, an average 13pc were found to be vacant.
Breaking this down by county, Louth had the highest vacancy rate at 26pc.
The lowest was in Westmeath, where just 1pc of these buildings were empty.
"This is slightly higher than the national vacancy rate norm, which would be around 7 to 8pc" said Mr Keogh.
"There are lots of different reasons why moving into a new building could be delayed - issues with mortgages and sales processes, for example."