Eircodes may need to be issued to all potential new dwellings from the moment a planning application is submitted for them even if they are not subsequently built.
The Central Statistics Office has recommended assigning the post codes from the very start in order to make tracking and counting of new homes more accurate.
The recommendation is one of several made by the CSO as it published its first quarterly new dwellings completion statistics compiled under a new counting method that shows figures previously published by the Department of Housing were substantially over-stated.
Statisticians also want a tightening up of the Building Energy Rating programme which could help provide an accurate count of new homes if it wasn’t flouted by a significant number of self-build one-off homes.
They also want the State to address an anomaly whereby some shared dwellings, such as student accommodation, are not included in the ESB domestic connections data which can also give a good indication of the number of new homes built.
Kieran Culhane, CSO senior statistician, said that the counting method now adopted was more robust but it still had limitations.
“This report is an important first step,” he said. “Further engagement with key stakeholders will be essential.”
The disparity between the figures previously published by the department and those now compiled by the CSO ranged from a 25% over-count in 2017, when the department’s figure was 19,271 but just 14,446 new dwellings were actually completed, to a 50% over-count in 2014.
The discrepancies were due to the department’s reliance on ESB connections alone as an indicator of new dwellings completed. That method exaggerated the number of new dwellings in 2017 by 4,825.
A lot of arguments over the last few months about how many new homes were being built - I asked CSO to find out - the results show that @RebuildingIRL is working - in 2017: 14,446 new builds, 2,685 vacancy brought back into use & 1,091 @fiannafailparty ghost estate homes finished pic.twitter.com/Z7hstPnF5T— Eoghan Murphy (@MurphyEoghan) June 14, 2018
More than half of those were not new but reconnections, a quarter related to previously counted houses in ghost estates, and the rest to properties connected to the domestic ESB system even though they were not dwellings.
Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy accepted the revised figures but reiterated that 18,000 new homes became available last year once the vacant homes and ghost estates brought into use were counted.
Completions have risen steadily over the past seven years — from 6,989 in 2011 to 14,446 in 2017 with last year’s output a dramatic increase of 46% on 2016.
Three-quarters of the new homes completed last year were in urban areas and Dublin and Cork had the most completions overall with 5,602 and 1,402 respectively.
Meath and Kildare were next with 1,108 and 985, while Longford and Leitrim had the fewest, at 73 and 75.
The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers said the figures were long overdue but unsurprising.
Chief executive Pat Davitt said: “What was well known is now officially known.
“Now that we have figures upon which we can rely, decision-makers need to get on with cutting the impediments to home building.”
The high cost of finance for builders and developers was one such impediment, said Mr Davitt.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved