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Housing Construction sector, is there a recovery, and if so, is it enough?

By | Industry News

Article written by CEO Danny O’Shea for Sunday Business Post

Sunday Business Post

Anecdotal evidence suggests a broad recovery in the residential construction sector, however is it unclear where the recovery is, what is its magnitude and is it sustainable? New figures soon to be released from www.buildinginfo.com shed some light on the specifics of this recovery and point to some answers.

There are three aspects to the residential construction sector 1. The home improvement/extension sector 2. The self build “one –off” sector and 3. The residential development sector.

The home improvement/extension sector is not defined by geographic or demographic factors and is a useful indicator of broad economic activity. Figures show that the number of extension type projects that started  in 2015 was circa 5,100,  an increase of 3%  and 10% respectively when compared to 2014 and 2013. However this number only measures projects that required planning permission (i.e. greater than 40 sq mtr) so it would fair to assume it represents only the tip of the home improvement iceberg and that the real volume of activity in this  sector would be a multiple of that figure.

The one-of house sector which accounts for approx. 3,000 units a year is largely, but not exclusively, a rural phenomenon. One-off houses made up almost half of the entire housing units commenced in the Connacht/Ulster region in 2015, for example. This sector underwent some turbulent times recently with the introduction of the new building regulations in March 2014. Initially there was a surge of commencements in early 2014 followed by a fallow period for the remainder of that year as the impact of the regulations hit home. Overall commencements  for 2014 were up 35% on 2013. This level of growth was obviously unsustainable and this is evident in the fact that 2015 numbers were down 9% when compared to 2014. There has been a subsequent roll-back on the building regulations with regard to one-off house whereby the owner/builder can elect to opt-out. The impact of this change has yet to be fully seen.  On the positive side if compared to 2013, 2015 shows healthy 22% increase. Planning applications for one-off houses are up 20% year on year  2014 vs 2015 to almost 7,000 this is the highest figure in some years.

Residential Commencements

Exclusive research undertaken by Building Information Ireland shows that residential development projects with a total unit count of 15,500 started in 2015. This is an increase of 126% on 2014. The regional breakdown shows that over half of these are in Dublin and 30% in the rest of Leinster. Typically these are multiphase developments and will not be completed in one year. Although 2015 has been by far the strongest year since 2008 it falls significantly short of the 25,000 units per year required as suggested by recent ESRI reports. Further analysis shows that the lead time from submission of application for a residential development to actual commencement is 121 weeks. This suggests that permissions are in place for developments but the climate to start is not quite there yet. Fresh thinking will be required to break the impasse  and square the circle of consumer demand, build price and available credit to potential homebuyers. 

Overall the metrics are all pointing in the right direction and recoveries of varying sorts are underway depending on location and we hope it is sustainable.  Full analysis of the construction industry by sector available from www.buildinginfo.com.

Article can be viewed on Sunday Business Post website

Residential Building Sector – Sunday Business Post

By | Industry News

Focus on Residential Building

In an article from the Sunday Business Post, dated 31st January 2016, Tina-Marie O’Neill takes a look at the current state of play in the Residential Building Sector.  Her highly informative article sources statistics and data from the Building Information Index and CEO Danny O’Shea shines a positive light on improvements being observed through the index. Sunday Business Post

Not so quiet on the new homes front

New homes developments are beginning to appear in the greater Dublin area

It is encouraging to see a flurry of new homes schemes either on the market or preparing to launch in the greater Dublin area at this early stage of the year. With average rents in Dublin just shy of the 2007 peak rental figures, an increase in new homes on the market will certainly help alleviate the housing shortage. Despite the positive upswing, a recent forecast report from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland put the annual number of homes needed in Dublin at 7,000 and currently the figures fall well short of that. By the end of 2015, just 2,735 homes had received planning permission, prompting the SCSI to argue that the lack of supply continues to put pressure on the “dysfunctional” property market. It also criticised a lack of planning staff in local authorities which translated into long delays on badly needed projects. A small ray of light on that front came from Danny O’Shea of the Building Industry Index. According to O’Shea, the residential sector is on a strong growth trajectory with applications up at the end of 2015 by 29 per cent on the previous year and – more importantly – commencements were up by 98 per cent. As well as that, the average lead-in time for projects to start is reducing. It is currently at about 132 weeks from application to commencement. “This lead-in time has stagnated the industry in recent years, but we have seen it reduce gradually throughout 2015. At the beginning of 2015, the duration stood at 141 weeks. This will continue to reduce throughout 2016, further improving the activity levels in the sector. All of this augers well for increased residential output into 2016 and beyond,” said O’Shea…. To read full article – Not so quiet on the new homes front – Sunday Business Post 31 1 2016

Q3 2015 – Housing Developments Monitor

By | Industry News

Published recently by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland in conjunction with Future Analytics the Q3 Housing Developments Monitor, which examines housing developments in Co. Dublin of greater than 25 units, shows that in Q3 planning permission was granted for only 13 schemes.

Residential Housing Monitor

Read report here

The monitor also highlights

  • a decrease of 59% in units when compared to Q2
  • only 2,735 units commenced in housing development schemes of 25+ units
  • many projects are subject to delays
  • lack of supply is putting increasing pressure on the property market

Building Information Ireland are proud of our association with this highly informative report and our contribution to it. Details on all schemes referenced in the Q3 Housing Developments Monitor can be found on our website.  

Register to our 10 day free trial to review.

Sunday Business Post Investigates the Housing Crisis

By | Industry News

“Data from Building Information Ireland shows scale of challenge…”

In the article featured in today’s Sunday Business Post Michael Brennan and Fearghal O’Connor look at how Ireland’s labyrinthine planning system, rising rents and changing demographics are contributing to the housing crisis and investigate if these problems be fixed? Sunday Business Post The article examines how in recent years, the building industry industry in Ireland was on its knees. However now, demand for housing is increasing rapidly, but supply is lacking? Right across Dublin there are sites with planning permission – sites where developers could build the homes needed to meet demand and solve the housing crisis. But the number of homes built in the capital in the first nine months of 2015 fell 14 per cent to 2,057. It raises the question: what is going wrong? The Sunday Business Post spoke to builders, housing experts and top officials in all four Dublin councils, to investigate the housing crisis. Data provided by planning information resource Building Information Ireland shows the scale of the challenge. Even when builders get planning permission, it still takes them more than three years to complete a home. But a soon-to-be-published third quarter study by Building Information Ireland suggests the situation may have improved in recent weeks. There were planning applications for 14,600 housing units in Dublin up to the end of last September, a 97 per cent increase on the previous period last year. According to Building Information Ireland chief executive Danny O’Shea, there were also 5,048 housing units under construction up to the end of last September, which was up 75 per cent from the same period in 2014. But this is still well short of the average of 7,000 to 8,000 new homes per year which the Housing Agency estimates is needed to meet demand in Dublin up to 2018.

Housing crisis

  • 14.4% – Fewer homes built in first 9 months 2015 compared to same period 2014
  • 139 Weeks – Time it takes housing projects to go from planning application to construction
  • 41.3% – Of units in Fingal and South Dublin with planning permission deemed not viable
  • 3,521 – Units where planning will expire in 2016
  • 4,118 – Units where planning has expired or will expire in 2015
  • 26,751 – The number of homes in Dublin area with planning permission
  • 2,057 – Number of homes built in the first nine months of this year
  • 43% – Proportion of completed homes delivered by NAMA last year

Full article is available here to read

Housing Construction – Highland Radio Interview with Danny

By | Industry News

Donegal Housing Construction Sector Discussed

In this interview with Highland Radio recorded earlier this week CEO Danny O’Shea discusses the latest figures from the National Housing Construction Index and reveals that sentiment in the Donegal construction sector in remains positive as planning applications rose by 35% in the first six months of 2015 when compared to same period in 2014. Highland Radio Housing Construction Interview However, Danny does point to the fact that despite the positive outlook, there has been a drop in activity in the housing construction sector in Donegal with project commencements down by 54% in the first half of this year but this is largely due to the change in regulations at the beginning of 2014 which resulted in an over inflation of commencements during that period.

National Housing Construction Index Vol. 21 – Jan to Jun 2015

By | Industry News

Residential Construction sector remains positive

…despite dramatic drop in Self Build Housing Construction

New data from the National Housing Construction Index illustrates that in the first 2 quarters of 2015 a fall in activity in the residential construction sector when compared to 2014 has been seen. The main factor for the drop is the reduction in Self Build housing construction commencements, which fell by over -40% year on year.

Download Free – Link2Plans NHCI Vol 21

However, the medium term outlook for the housing construction sector is positive, with the latest edition of the National Housing Construction Index (NHCI) from Link2Plans showing that new housing planning applications increasing by+14% in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period in last year, but project commencements have fallen nationally by -26% year on year. Residential Construction planning applications The data contained in the National Housing Construction Index is aggregated by consultancy Link2Plans from real time planning and project information in every local authority area, with the latest edition of the National Housing Construction Index tracking every project from January through to June 2015, and comparing it with the same period in 2014. According to Danny O’Shea Managing Director of Link2Plans “Two very distinct themes have emerged in the Irish residential construction sector in the first half of 2015. Firstly, when compared to the same period in 2014, there has been consistent bi-monthly growth in the number of project applications which shows continued confidence in the sector. Secondly, commencements are down quite dramatically when compared to 2014 on account of the new building regulations introduced on 1st March of that year, which created a once off spike in the number of projects started.” “Commencements fell by -26% nationally in the first half of 2015 when compared to same period in 2014, with every county apart from Wicklow, recording a fall in the number of project commencements. Applications however have returned strong growth for the first six months of 2015 when compared to 2014, with a +24% increase and every county except Dublin recording a rise. A more accurate barometer of the recovery in the Irish residential construction sector is the +22% increase in the number of commencements in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2013.” continued Danny O’Shea Managing Director of Link2Plans. Residential Construction Commencements Danny O’Shea Managing Director of Link2Plans said that “nationally, in the first half of 2015 the number of project commencements fell by 1,063 from 4,080 to 3,017 when compared with the same period in 2014, with Wicklow the only county to record an increase with +1%. The smallest year on year decreases were in Dublin (-3%), Kilkenny (-7%), Waterford (-10%) and Cavan (-11%).”

Applications up +14% nationally

Danny O’Shea Managing Director of Link2Plans said that “The number of planning applications in the first six months of 2015 rose by 893 from 6,503 to 7,396, representing an increase of +14% nationally year on year. Leitrim, Louth and Westmeath were the best performing counties for the first six months of 2015 when compared to 2014, recording growth of +74%, +66% and +48% respectively. Offaly (+43%), Louth (+43%), Donegal (+35%) and Longford (+32%) also returned significant increases while Dublin (-5%) was the only county to record a fall in the number of planning applications.”

Number of Multi-Unit Developments triple in two years

Project commencements can be divided into three categories including residential developments (multiple unit developments), one-off housing (self-build projects) and one-off housing extensions (self build extensions). Danny O’Shea Managing Director of Link2Plans said that “Another metric which points to the upward turn in the residential construction sector over the last two years is the huge increase in the number of multi-unit developments. For instance, for the whole of 2013, there were commencements for 72 multi-unit developments, while in the just the first half of 2015, the number has tripled with commencements for 232 projects.” The National Housing Construction Index is produced by a team of researchers at Link2Plans and it relates to all Planning Applications and Project Commencements throughout the months of January to June 2015 and gives a direct comparison with the same period in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Link2Plans have produced this index bi-monthly and it has been the most accurate barometer of real time sentiment (planning applications) and actual residential construction activity (project commencements) including residential developments (multi-units), one-off housing (self-build) and one-off housing extensions. Link2Plans is Ireland’s premier housing construction research body and is a sister company of Building Information Ireland.

Sunday Business Post – Residential Housing Analysis

By | Industry News

Below is an excellent article from Tina-Marie O’Neill that featured in The Sunday Business Post yesterday (06/09/15).  Danny O’Shea CEO of Building Information Ireland provides an insight into the Residential Construction pipeline with some of the findings from the latest edition of the Building Information Index.  Contributions from many of Ireland’s largest property consultants shed further light on the outlook for the Residential Housing sector. Residential Housing Sunday Business Post

New home scheme numbers on the up

The number of new homes schemes under construction in Dublin – and increasingly in its surrounding commuter belt counties – is finally on the up. However, these green shoots of recovery in the residential market are in jeopardy of proving negligible, washed away by the sheer tide of demand for homes in the capital. The latest research from Building Information Ireland shows that residential housing projects with a combined quantity of 7,785 units began construction in the first half of 2015, (this number excludes “one off” houses, which are thought to make up almost half of all new homes currently being built). The estimated construction cost of these commencements is a healthy €1.43 billion. And according to the latest Building Information Index, residential housing project commencements showed an increase of more than 44 per cent in value when the first half of this year is compared to the same period in 2014. “Unsurprisingly, the bulk of these units starting to be built – some 3,143 – are in greater Dublin with a further 3,140 in Leinster,” said Danny O’Shea of Building Information Ireland. “Munster statistics show some 1,230 residential units were started this year with a much lower amount, a mere 272, started in Connacht/Ulster. “The pipeline for residential housing projects which are yet to start also shows signs of strong growth with 14,405 units (worth €3.13 billion in construction costs) granted permission in the first half of 2015,” said O’Shea. “There were an additional 18,355 units within new planning applications in the first six months of 2015. “However, a detailed analysis undertaken by Building Information Ireland shows a significant lead time of 139 weeks – or more than two-and-a-half years – on average between planning being applied for a residential development and construction starting on site,” said O’Shea. It could easily take another year for the first tranche of homes to be delivered once building has commenced. That puts in stark figures what most property buyers already know; there simply are not enough residential units on the market to meet demand in the capital. Current construction levels are operating at about a third of the volume required and with rising rents, demand remains tremendous. “Now that the holidays are over we are experiencing a steady increase in enquiries for upcoming new home developments in and around Dublin,” said Ken MacDonald, founder and director of Hooke & MacDonald. “Most of the demand is coming from first-time buyers seeking three and four bedroom houses and two bedroom apartments. There’s also good demand from existing owner occupiers wishing to trade up from smaller properties to more spacious family homes and, conversely, there are also retirees actively seeking to trade down from large houses to smaller houses or apartments. Due to the buoyant rental market, investors are becoming quite active again, although many investors are exiting the market due to the unfavourable tax regime and speculation about pending rental capping,” he said. MacDonald criticised the new Central Bank minimum mortgage deposit rules for exacerbating the issue. “Notwithstanding the increase in enquiries and sales, a substantial number of people, particularly first time buyers, are being unfairly excluded from buying due to the Central Bank mortgage restrictions. The reality is that prices in the market had already cooled from September 2014 and have continued to moderate or remain fairly static,” he said. “Some commentators mistakenly attribute this to the mortgage restriction which only came in after Christmas. The exclusion of people from buying is adding to the shortage of supply in the rental market and there are no signs of any moves to increase supply in this sector. Rental cap measures, if introduced, will actually decrease supply,” warned MacDonald. Angela Keegan, managing director of MyHome.ie, is also concerned that rising rents will intensify the issue. She has also urged a greater diversity of units to be built as cautious developers are catering to a specific block of house hunters. “Given the current market pressures, it’s unfortunate to see so few apartment developments coming to the market,” she said. “We see only one development of one-bed apartments, six of two-beds and two of three-beds in our analysis. With rents on the rise, the government clearly needs to incentivise the property investment market to cater for current demand. “We are seeing a major increase in the number of new developments coming to the market in Dublin and commuter belt counties. Of the 45 developments in Dublin, 20 are concentrated in south Dublin with Dublin 14 and 16 being particular hot spots. West Dublin is also quite strong with nine schemes launched at the moment, mostly in Castleknock, Lucan and Clonsilla. “However, it’s hard to get a handle on exact volumes as schemes are being released in different phases. There is one development in Swords of 85 units coming to the market, but that is the exception. “Generally it looks as if developers are adopting a much more prudent approach and building homes to cater for first time buyer demand rather than investment properties. That is very much reflected in the type of properties being built with the focus very much on three and four-bed semis.” Among the tranche of mainly small developers that have either survived or emerged from the recession are a limited number of familiar Celtic Tiger era residential property developers, including the Cosgrave Group, which continues to deliver high end four and five-bed family homes in both north and south Dublin, Sean Mulryan’s Ballymore Properties, Gerry Gannon of Gannon Homes, Park Developments and Durkan Estates, who are all currently active in new homes schemes. Keegan said: “Another trend we are seeing is that Dublin city is continuing to spread into the commuter belt counties. “We are seeing a lot of new schemes in Bray, Newtownmountkennedy, Naas, Celbridge, Clonee etc. This may well be in response to tighter mortgage lending limits introduced by the Central Bank earlier this year. Our analysis also shows that the further out you move from the city, the larger the homes being built.” For the many potential new home buyers out there, Gina Kennedy of Douglas Newman Good (DNG) New Homes has this advice: “Look around, do your research and register your details or sign up to waiting lists for schemes in your preferred area. Buyers have to be alert to launch dates and general invitations of interest in schemes. This sector of the market can change quickly given that releases can be dependent on completions, near completions or can be sold off-plan,” said Kennedy. “We are often approached by potential buyers before we even erect our hoarding on site who want to be put on waiting lists. “We’ve a lot of new schemes in the pipeline too with a good volume coming on stream early next year, including schemes with new phase releases and brand new developments too.” Upcoming launches Six four-bed semis of 172 square metres at Heatherton in Bray for Heatherbrook Homes, priced from €495,000 through Hooke & MacDonald in mid-October. The same agent will launch 12 large four-beds (197 – 254 square metres) at Ardilea Crescent in Clonskeagh, Dublin 14 for O’Malley Construction next February. Hooke & MacDonald will also launch a number of three and four-bed homes at Cuil Duin in Citywest, Co Dublin as part of the first phase of the 200-home scheme in December. Savills is launching four and five-bed homes at Emsworth Park in Kinsealy later this week. The same agent will also handle the release of three, four and five-bed homes at Piper’s Hill in Naas, a Ballymore scheme, with units priced from €325,000 and spanning between 124 and 251 square metres. Ely Woods, a scheme of 35 units in Rathfarnham will offer a number of two and three-bed duplex units and apartments for sale through Savills later this month. Maybury Properties is releasing a number of three and four-bed homes at its 35-unit scheme at Cooper’s Wood in Kinsealy, also through Savills, at the end of September/early October. Guardian New Homes will launch a small scheme of six family homes spanning 171 to 176 square metres at Richmond Close on the Dundrum Road in Milltown in Dublin 6 later this month. Sherry FitzGerald will shortly launch four-bed family homes for sale at The Grove on Goatstown Road in Dublin 14. The 163 square metre homes are being built by Durkan Estates.