In anticipation of the Budget announcement tomorrow, Construction Information Services (CIS) revisits some of the key points made by key speakers and panel discussion at the CIF Conference last Thursday. These points covered major roadblocks in the construction planning process, incentives for builders to build and first time house buyers to buy

Cif Conf

  • CIF and Government working in tandem with one another will be a key factor in this ten year strategy becoming a success. The CIF are currently signing off on an initial 3 Year Strategy as part of an overall 10 year plan
  • FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) is a key component in the construction industry – 1 in 5 jobs in Ireland are directly related to FDI
  • Lack of activity outside of the major cities appears to be a growing concern. This plan must ensure that more construction activity spreads outside of the Dublin, Cork, Galway regions
  • Ensuring SME’s within the industry don’t get left behind, better tendering prospects
  • Challenges to getting house building underway; planning, infrastructure issues, costs to developers, lack of incentives to build, waste (costs and access to landfills)
  • Focus on first time buyers and building first time buyers houses which are obtainable
  • Ensuring that only competent builders are working within the industry – C.I.R.I
  • Embracing Lean Building and BIM and adopting a design quality indicator (DQI) for quality building
  • To be aware of off-site solutions and changing technologies – robotic bricklayers, 3D printing

Simon Coveney spoke on the day also, detailing key points from this Housing Action Plan in more detail whilst remaining tight-lipped on specific figures until the Budget is announced on Tuesday 11th October.

Housing Action Plan

Action Plan on Housing

€5.5 billion will be available for social housing and infrastructure and that the plan will help private housing infrastructure and build on the private rental market.

Core Objective:

“The overarching aim of this Action Plan is to ramp up delivery of housing from its current under-supply across all tenures to help individuals and families meet their housing needs, and to help those who are currently housed to remain in their homes or be provided with appropriate options of alternative accommodation, especially those families in emergency accommodation.” – Main goals in terms of units is an annual 25,000 and the delivery of 47,000 units by 2021.

To be achieved through “5 Pillars”:

  • Pillar 1 – Address Homelessness
  • Pillar 2 – Accelerate Social Housing
  • Pillar 3 – Build More Homes
  • Pillar 4 – Improve the Rental Sector
  • Pillar 5 – Utilise Existing Housing

Pathfinding Projects (To create and test new areas to allow for faster and higher quality homes to be built):

  • Housing Agency: The Housing Agency will acquire 1,600 units with €70m worth of funding for units to be bought and refurbished for social housing by 2020.
  • Affordable Rental: €10m of annual funding to help 2,000 properties afford rent on homes where a disproportionate amount of income goes to rent.
  • Infrastructure: €200m on Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund. 15-20 sites to be identified over 3 years to provide up to 15,000-20,000 new homes.
  • Cost Effective Homes Competition:  A competition will be held to champion best practice, efficient and cost effective design to enable the delivery of high quality homes in sustainable communities at an affordable level. The design must also be capable of delivering new homes for less than €200,000 (“all in” delivery cost net of site cost), on foot of which a suitable State site will be provided for delivery of the homes within 18 months.
  • Modular Homes: 1,500 modular homes to be provided (by 2018). Does not address the issues around the pilot scheme for modular homes (i.e. too expensive, took too long to build, etc.)
  • Fast Tracking Large Housing Developments: Housing developments over 100 units will go straight to An Bord Pleanála – This could reduce the planning process from 18 months to 3 months (That’s if ABP have the resources in place to handle the new influx of planning decisions)

Conclusion:

A lot of the plans for action still require legislation to be changed and will not come into effect until 2018. The report falls short on addressing the main issues which faces the nation in any meaningful or substantial way. Private developers will still have high barriers of tax and levies in order to go on site. First time buyers will have to wait until the 2017 Budget to see if they can get on the property ladder. All in all, I fail to see how this report will improve the housing sector. While initiatives for fast tracking social housing is a good thing, the largely ignored private sector will continue to hinder the sector’s recovery.