Number of new house builds slides to 1960s' levels
IRISH home building output has now fallen to 1960s' levels, with 2012 looking likely to be the worst year for new home completions since records began, it emerged yesterday.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) is predicting that just 7,500 new homes will be completed by the end of this year, a figure which represents just 8pc of the 93,419 output from 2006 -- the peak year of the property boom.
The first output figures ever recorded, and the lowest until this year, was in 1970 when 13,807 houses were built.
This means that new home output has slipped back two generations to the 1960s, when the population of the country was just under three million -- one-third smaller than it is today.
The latest figures show that home completions for the first four months of the year stand at 3,283 -- down 26pc on the same period last year.
Home starts were even weaker again, with 1,212 new units begun in the first four months, representing a 31pc drop on the same period in 2011. The vast majority (84pc) were one-off homes rather than clusters or estate developments.
Most of these are likely to have been built in rural areas where there is a tradition of building homes for successive generations on existing family land.
"An oversupply of housing production during the boom years, the decline in house prices, the lack of credit being provided by financial institutions and the change in attitudes to property ownership have all contributed," said a CIF spokesman yesterday.
Apart from the effects of a huge supply overhang left over from the boom -- particularly in rural areas -- the CIF points out that it is now around €70,000 cheaper on average to buy an existing home than to have one built.
"Excluding the cost of the land, the average house prices are now standing at approximately €153,150, while the construction cost of building a new three-bedroom semi-detached home now stands at €233,686, which includes VAT of 13.5pc -- typically accounting for €26,606 of the cost.
"The Central Bank had pointed out that property prices have been overcorrected by between 12pc and 26pc. While the last monthly price statistics recorded a further decline, before that there had been three months of minor increases recorded in Dublin house prices.
"The hope in the industry is that prices in the Dublin region may be starting to turn around, although this will only become clear as the statistics for the months ahead are made available," said the spokesman.
Almost half of all construction jobs have been lost since 2006.