Families have been left devastated after a developer delayed the start date for a major housing project in Co Laois due to soaring costs.
Alder Residential has put the development of Millers Hill, a 79-home estate in Killenard, on hold until next March, citing the rising cost of construction materials, tight labour markets, a shortage of skilled personnel and winter weather conditions as the reasons.
Homebuyers were required to put down a deposit of €10,000 to secure a house in the estate.
However, it is understood that these deposits will now be returned to those who no longer wish to proceed after the project was delayed by around six months.
Independent TD Carol Nolan said she was contacted by “distressed couples” who had their dreams of owning a new home “utterly destroyed”.
She also criticised the 10pc concrete levy introduced by the Government in Budget 2023.
“This is the clearest indication yet that the measures adopted by the Government in its Budget last week are already proving to be an absolute disaster for families and those seeking to own their own homes,” said deputy Nolan.
“The concrete levy must be scrapped immediately. It is outrageous for the Government to generate revenue in this manner in the middle of the worst housing crisis in decades.
“Developers are leaving and with them are the hopes and dreams of young families. It is a trend that cannot be allowed to continue. It is absolutely ironic, and indeed tragic, that the immediate impact of this so-called giveaway budget was to take away people's hopes of home ownership. I will be raising the matter with the Minister for Housing and demanding that he abolish this levy immediately,” she added.
Pat O’Sullivan, director of Alder Residential, told Independent.ie that his company had made its decision prior to the Budget.
“It would be easy to say that the concrete levy was the reason why, but while that clearly didn’t help, we had already made our minds up before that was announced,” he said.
“We had a number of people with paid deposits on houses based on a start date in September, but we decided to delay the start date until spring for a number of reasons. The unprecedented rise in building materials, a fairly significant shortage of labour and also avoiding additional costs and delays due to weather conditions going into the winter. “
Mr O’Sullivan said around 10 customers who had paid deposits are now seeking refunds and insisted they will be returned this week.
“I’m clearly disappointed as we had geared up for a September start,” he added.
Mr O’Sullivan said unprecedented building material cost inflation due to the war in Ukraine and post-pandemic supply issues had negatively impacted the industry.
Millers Hill will consist of a mix of three and four-bedroom semi-detached homes alongside larger four and five-bedroom detached houses.
The development borders a golf course and house prices were quoted on MyHome.ie as starting at €350,000.
In an email to those who put down deposits, Mr O’Sullivan said it is the company’s intention “to keep the sale price as close as possible to the original”.
“We believe a delay to the commencement may enable this. We didn’t take this decision lightly as we know you will be very disappointed.
“We apologise for the inconvenience created and sincerely hope this timely communication will enable you to make the best possible decisions in relation to your home purchase.”
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe introduced the Defective Concrete Products Levy in this year’s budget, with the controversial levy expected to come into force from April 3 next year.
The levy on concrete blocks, pouring concrete and certain other concrete products will be applied at a rate of 10pc.