Could delivery of quality, rapid-build homes address the housing crisis?

Could delivery of quality, rapid-build homes address the housing crisis?
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy pictured with Brian O'Gorman, CEO, Cluid and Michael Cronin, Managing Director of Thermohouse on a site visit to the Clúid Housing development in Killarney. Picture: Don MacMonagle

Could delivery of quality, rapid-build homes address the housing crisis?

It’s a realistic solution, according to suppliers of such energy-efficient residences and it also ticks boxes in relation to what is coming down the line for the construction industry in terms of sustainability requirements and meeting the EU’s “nearly zero energy buildings” directive for newbuilds completed after December 31, 2020.

Affordable homes

Over the past week Clúid Housing — a charity which provides affordable quality homes to people in need of housing — in partnership with Kerry County Council, Rebuilding Ireland and Kerry-based Thermohouse Limited, a leading Irish low-energy building system manufacturer and installer, showcased one of Ireland’s largest sustainable social housing developments.

Housing minister Eoghan Murphy toured the Sruthán na Sailí development, in Derreen, Killarney, on July 19. The second stage of construction is imminent at the site, where Thermohouse is delivering the turnkey, rapid-build, energy-efficient houses.

Energy efficiency

Due for completion in early 2020, this is one of Clúid’s largest newbuild developments currently under construction.

Michael Cronin, founder and managing director of Thermohouse Ltd, describes the homes as “future-proofed” and said as well as being faster to construct, they are more energy-efficient.

“We have developed an innovative low-energy building system comprising of an interlocking wall floor and roof system from concept to manufacture and installation.

He added: “The Thermohouse system is manufactured at our Killarney factory before being delivered to sites throughout Ireland and the UK.

“The 61-house Sruthán na Sailí development at Derreen, Killarney which is being constructed for Clúid Housing is a prime example of the capabilities of our system.”

“The system is up to 60% faster to construct than traditional construction with a minimum design life of 60 years.”

Soaring demand

These energy-efficient and airtight buildings ensure a major reduction in heating costs and a high quality living environment — all of which is reflected in a soaring demand, he added.

“While the construction industry, as a whole, has, perhaps, been somewhat slow to adopt newer methods of construction, we are now seeing a significant increase in demand from consumers for more sustainable housing,” said Mr Cronin.

Coupled with the upcoming EU Directive that all new builds completed after December 31, 2020 are to be “nearly Zero Energy Building” — which the Thermohouse building system can easily achieve — this demand is only set to increase.

The Derreen development, which commenced in January 2019, consists of 61 two and three-bed dwellings, built using Thermohouse’s low-energy building system.

As well as being up to 60% faster than traditional construction, the houses have superior levels of airtightness, considerably reducing their heating costs. These houses are “nearly Zero-Energy Building” (nZEB) compliant as mandated by the EU energy directive for new builds completed after December 31, 2020.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy pictured with Brian O'Gorman, CEO, Cluid, left, Mayor of Kerry Niall Kelleher, Minister Brendan Griffin and Michael Cronin, Managing Director of Thermohouse, at the sustainable social housing development in Killarney. Picture: Don MacMonagle
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy pictured with Brian O'Gorman, CEO, Cluid, left, Mayor of Kerry Niall Kelleher, Minister Brendan Griffin and Michael Cronin, Managing Director of Thermohouse, at the sustainable social housing development in Killarney. Picture: Don MacMonagle

Innovative

James O’Halloran, new business manager of Clúid, described the Killarney development as “an innovative social housing project”.

“It not only addresses the need for rapid-build homes but also creates greener, more energy-efficient buildings, with lower fuel bills,” he said. “Partnering with Kerry County Council, Rebuilding Ireland and Thermohouse, who deliver residential projects across Ireland and the UK, has allowed us to meet our goal of providing high quality housing for those who need it, here in Kerry.”

New approach

Michael Cronin added: “How we approach building homes in this country is changing. Thermohouse structures not only meet the EU’s nZEB requirements, they consistently exceed them, and being locally manufactured, we offer a lower carbon footprint for delivery in Ireland.”

The housing minister also opened a new 22-unit scheme at Ard Bhearna, Gortamullin, Kenmare, and 11 new homes at Croílár na Mistéalach at The Mitchels in Tralee on July 19.

The €4.25m Kerry County Council scheme at Ard Bhearna provides two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes and was constructed by Kenmare Plant Hire Ltd. The 11 units at The Mitchels, Tralee, are three-bedroom and four-bedroom units which are part of a larger €4.6m development and which form part of the wider Mitchels-Boherbee Community Regeneration Project.

These new homes were constructed for Kerry County Council by M. Fitzgibbon Contractors Ltd. Twenty-one new homes are being constructed by Ned O’Shea & Sons Ltd on behalf of the local authority at Killeen, Tralee, at a cost of €3.8m.

Clear targets

Kerry County Council’s housing programme “has very clear targets” and has put funding in place to provide homes for those in need of accommodation in the county, said council chief executive Moira Murrell. “The council has a dedicated capital delivery unit and it has ambitious targets for the delivery of housing and progress is closely monitored and closely managed,” she said. “There is now considerable progress being made by Kerry County Council to meet the housing need in the county.”

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