New figures show a sharp rise in the number of houses being built in January — but a fall in the number being completed.
The Construction Industry Federation figures show 342 houses were started during the first month of the year, compared to 220 in Jan 2012.
Twelve local authority areas have witnessed an increase in housing starts, among them Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, Fingal, Galway County, Carlow, Meath, and Wicklow.
However, while the number of new builds commencing has increased, there was a fall of 18.5% in the number of houses being completed in January, compared with the same month in 2012.
A total of 511 units were completed in January this year, a drop of 116 units from the 627 units that had been built in Jan 2012.
The 511 units completed last January consist of 309 individual units, 143 scheme units, and 59 apartments.
Despite the smaller figure, some parts of the country have seen an rise in the number of houses being completed, including Limerick City and County, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, Galway City, Louth, and Wicklow.
Among those to have seen a drop in house completions were Clare, Cork, Dublin, and Donegal.
Hubert Fitzpatrick, CIF director, said urban areas had seen a rise in demand and that the availability of finance was a key factor in any recovery in the construction industry.
“We’re seeing activity picking up in the more urban areas on a general level while the rural areas are suffering from the overhang in residential housing stock,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“Occasionally there are areas which go against this trend for a short periods, but looking at the figures from an annual viewpoint there is little doubt that this is how the market is developing.
“The CIF has forecasted a further decline in house building activity for 2013 but the number of new house starts is very positive. It won’t be enough at this point to help alter the number of units completed this year, but if the increase was repeated in the coming months then any decline in activity for 2013 will be minimal.
“Access to finance will be the next key step in helping the residential construction market return to a more sustainable level.
“The banks need to take note of these figures and the wider residential picture and make funding available for viable housing projects in the places they are needed.”
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