They’re the fastest built houses in the history of the State so possibly the security man who was darting from one to the next liberally spraying them with air freshener in advance of the ministerial visit was trying to cover up the lingering odour of construction crew sweat.
If anyone should have been perspiring over the country’s first modular homes, however, it was Environment Minister Alan Kelly himself.
Having pushed modular homes as a speedy solution for homeless families stuck in hotels, the moment of truth is about to dawn when the first tenants arrive in the next few weeks.
But Mr Kelly didn’t need his brow mopped when he visited the site at Poppintree, Ballymun, Dublin, where a cluster of 22, called Baile na Laochra, are fast nearing completion.
The two-storey, three-bedroom terraced homes may have been built in 16 weeks but there were no signs of any shortcuts being taken with quality. They are smart in appearance, with solar panels on the roofs, good-sized rooms totalling 96.5 sq m, neat little gardens, low-maintenance exteriors, and easy-care driveway complete with buggy-accessible ramps.
“I would encourage whoever does take over responsibility for this area to come out and look at these,” said Mr Kelly, in a tone that suggested he would just love to sit down with his replacement and say, ‘this is how it’s done, sonny’.
The homes are modular in the sense that they were built in sections off-site and pieced together on location, but they look much the same as traditionally built units, and, at €191,000 each, cost much the same to build too.
They are intended only as temporary accommodation, with tenants living there under licence rather than the usual council letting agreement and expected to move once long-term social housing or affordable private rented accommodation is found for them.
The fact they are in hotels in the first place because there is a dire shortage of social housing units and affordable private units means no one will define what “temporary” means.
“It’s hard to say,” admitted Tony Flynn, Dublin City Council’s housing manager. “But we have a plan to provide 3,500 social housing units in the next few years so we will be making inroads into the waiting lists.”
What if some temporary tenants decide they really like Baile na Laochra and want to stay? “We’ll cross that one when we come to it.”
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