The CSO have released the first of a new quarterly series on housing completions. This series addresses the long standing deficiencies in how the number of houses actually being completed has traditionally been determined.
Prior to its release, completions were tracked using a variety of proxy sources, with the ESB connections and Building Energy Ratings (BER) being the two principal means over the past few decades. There are accuracy issues with each proxy, given the collection methods and definitions used vary. The Department of Housing (DHPLG) has been using the ESB connections proxy as its principal source of completions data for many decades now, but this came under fire in recent years as the figures appeared increasingly different to what was being seen on the ground. The ESB connections proxy was generally felt to be overcounting completions, whereas other source, such as the number of new Building Energy Rating (BER) certificates issued were prone to undercounting.
With this new series, the CSO have adjusted the ESB connection data to remove non-dwelling connections and reconnections (the main distortive influences). They then linked this data with the BER certificates (a statutory requirement for all new homes), revenue datasets (concerning sales data and identifiable homes), Geodirectory (postal address database) and Census data (people’s principal place of residence).
The new series does not include the full range of activity however. For instance, the student accommodation sector is often connected under the ESB as a commercial entity. The CSO have said they may include this in the future under a distinct category of its own, but for now the new series serves as the most comprehensive and accurate measure available for residential completions.
The CSO’s New Dwelling Completions series shows that there were 14,446 new dwellings built in 2017, which was 4,825 below the number of ESB connections published by DHPLG. 57% of the difference is accounted for by reconnections, 23% by dwellings in unfinished housing developments and 20% by non-dwelling connections.
Looking back over the figure since 2011, it is apparent that there has been a systemic over-reporting of figures with the overall difference in excess of 31,000 units.
The updated figures can be accessed here: https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-ndc/newdwellingcompletionsq12018/ndcq118/
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