Room to improve: spending on home improvements hits €1.7bn
Irish homeowners have spent €1.7bn through the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) Scheme since its launch in 2013.
Dublin homeowners lead the way, spending an average of €18,721 per home improvement project, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).
Dubliners were followed in their spending by Donegal homeowners, who have spent on average €17,870 on improvements, and homeowners in Clare, who are spending an average of €16,682.
The scheme was set up to provide tax relief on approved expenditure for repair, renovation, or improvement works carried out on a main home or rental property by qualified contractors.
It costs the Exchequer €122m if the maximum credits that can be claimed by homeowners are availed of, and, to date, just under 11,000 contractors have benefited from the scheme.
"The Home Renovation Incentive scheme has contributed greatly to the level of construction activity throughout the country since its introduction," said CIF director general Tom Parlon.
Overall, works carried out under the scheme have seen an average spend of €16,187 on a project.
CIF says this has provided a huge boost to the Irish economy and employment in the construction sector.
"This private investment is good news for construction companies and contractors, which is helping to sustain existing jobs and create new jobs in the industry," Mr Parlon said.
Broken down by value, the largest amount of work carried out under the scheme was on home extensions (34pc), followed by general repair and renovations (25pc), while window replacement and kitchen replacement each accounted for 10pc.
"The Home Renovation Scheme has been incredibly successful from an economic perspective, representing an excess of a fourteenfold return on state investment, by private sector investment in the domestic economy," Mr Parlon said.
"This private sector investment might not have taken place without the presence of this scheme."
Under the scheme, the value of work carried out on a property must be at least €4,405, excluding Vat, and only works which are chargeable at the 13.5pc Vat rate are counted towards the threshold.
Mr Parlon went on to say that, to date, the scheme has proven successful in every county in the country by encouraging investment in the upgrading of private and rental property, fuelled in part, he said, by increased awareness about energy efficiency.
"The success of this scheme illustrates the effectiveness of measures such as this for helping Ireland address the target for the construction sector, associated with climate change measures.
"The CIF has long argued for a similar model to be used to incentivise companies with large building stock to renovate and improve energy efficiency, allowing them to offset the upfront cost of this through the taxation system in future years."
Under the National Development Plan, the Government has set aside €450m for energy efficiency measures to combat climate change, further emphasising the State's intensified approach to tackling the issue. "This investment by Government offers our industry an opportunity to develop more technically competent and sophisticated retrofit companies, as the number and scale of grant-supported projects is set to increase," said Mr Parlon.