More than 600,000 people in Ireland live in poor housing conditions with leaks, damp or rot while almost two million housing units will require retrofitting, according to Engineers Ireland.
A review by the professional body of housing and infrastructure nationwide found that more than half of the country's engineers believe Ireland's infrastructure is not in good condition and lacks the capacity for future development.
Engineers Ireland has published 100 recommended actions to future-proof the country's built environment and meet environmental, social and economic goals.
This year’s report, for the first time, focused on the housing sector which was allocated a ‘D’ grade – highlighting the engineering expert view that the capacity, condition and connectivity of Irish housing is of serious concern and requires immediate action.
It says that, in the long term, almost two million housing units will require retrofitting and calls for a clear roadmap for the process to be put in place.
The recommended actions across housing, energy, transport, communications, water, waste and flood risk, were published as part of EI's The State of Ireland 2019: A review of housing and infrastructure in Ireland.
The report found that the unavailability of public infrastructures - such as transport links, telecommunications and energy - was an impediment to the delivery of housing. It calls for increased funding and planning coordination to improve the supply and affordability of new homes.
The organisation says a current shortage of engineers and other construction workers is "risking critical project delivery".
Speaking at the launch of the report, director general of Engineers Ireland, Caroline Spillane said: “We, like many others, are seriously concerned about Ireland’s housing. Immediate actions are needed to overcome challenges in the capacity, condition and connectivity of our housing stock. Climate action and housing action must be intertwined if we are to meet our environmental, social and economic goals.
“In this regard, it was extremely positive to see the Government’s strong focus on retrofitting Ireland’s existing housing stock and commitment to upgrade 500,000 homes by 2030 in its Climate Action Plan last week.
"However, to achieve this target, we need much more clarity and a roadmap, including financing and skills development.
We must also acknowledge that in the longer term, almost 2 million housing units in Ireland need to be retrofitted to achieve the energy performance levels required.
The organisation also recommends that building control opt-outs for one-off houses be scrapped. It says planning permission should only be granted to those with a "demonstrable economic or social need".
It wants to see public land being "actively managed" using zoning and targeted investment and a 50-year spatial plan to be put in place for housing, infrastructure and the development of services.
Other key recommendations in 'The State of Ireland 2019' relating to housing include the need to nurture Ireland’s Atlantic cities (Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford) as ‘Network Cities’ through social and economic cooperation and fast and reliable connectivity.
It also suggests that 80% of all new housing units should incorporate greater use of smart technology by 2030.