THE number of houses and apartments built in 2012 shrank to the lowest level since records began 40 years ago.
Just 1,000 apartments were finished in past 12 months – representing 5pc of the 20,000 which were completed during 2006.
The majority of the 8,488 homes homes built in 2012 were 'one-off' properties.
And experts predict that this year will see even fewer houses developed.
Just 2,333 of those erected in 2012 were in housing estates. The fall-off in the construction of estates can largely be attributed to the over supply after the boom and the existence of huge numbers of ghost estates.
The decline of the industry is in stark contrast with the situation in 2006 when almost 100,000 homes were built.
The 8,488 homes built in 2012 was the smallest number since 1970 – when a total of 13,887 houses were put up.
The virtual collapse of the home construction sector is playing a large role in the current wave of emigration of young tradespeople, particularly to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Commenting on the figures, Construction Industry Federation (CIF) director general Tom Parlon said 2012 was a very difficult year for the Irish house- building industry.
"Previously, the lowest level had been the 13,887 units that were built in 1970 when the records began, but the total for 2011 dropped below that mark, and 2012 has seen a further fall in completions," he said.
Mr Parlon said that house building reached unsustainable levels during the boom years. But the industry had now gone through six successive years of decline.
"Unfortunately, it looks like we will see another slight reduction in house building in 2013," he added. "Overall the low commencement rate for 2012 has led us to forecast another drop in housing units built during the coming year."
Mr Parlon said there were positive indicators, including increased demand for homes in urban areas. "The banks have also promised to increase the level of mortgages during the coming 12 months," he said.
The 2012 home completion figures are also a 19pc fall on homes built the previous year.