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New Dwelling Completions Q1 2018

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This is the first report from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on New Dwelling Completions (NDC), a new quarterly series on the number of new dwellings built in Ireland since 2011. The report shows that the number of new dwellings built declined from 6,994 in 2011 to 4,575 in 2013 according to the New Dwelling Completions series, (see Table 2.1 in Overview). However, over the following four years the number of new dwellings built has increased steadily each year to stand at 14,446 in 2017. In the first quarter of 2018 there were 3,526 new dwellings built.

The key challenge around producing accurate analysis on the number of New Dwelling Completions in Ireland is that no single data source exists. Instead fragmented or incomplete administrative data sources are available which, in isolation, cannot provide an accurate assessment of the situation.

This report on New Dwelling Completions has been compiled using an innovative approach to linking the best available housing related datasets together, resulting in the most accurate analysis available to date.

Prior to the publication of this report, a number of datasets were available with regard to New Dwelling Completions. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) used the ESB Networks (ESBN) domestic connections dataset to publish a proxy indicator for the number of new dwellings built. However, it is now accepted that this dataset overestimated the situation as it included connections which do not relate to new dwellings (see ESB Connections for further information).

As an alternative proxy for new housing data, Goodbody Stockbrokers produced a report using Building Energy Ratings (BERs). However, it is acknowledged that this series may include an element of an undercount, particularly in the self-build sector (see Building Energy Rating for further information). Commencement Notices and Certificates of Compliance on Completion (CCCs) from the Building Control Management System (BCMS) are also compared with the NDC (see Building Control Management System for further information). Other indicators produced by the CSO, Revenue, Protect Our Water and Homebond are also discussed (see Other Relevant Housing Data for further information).

The National Data Infrastructure (NDI) plays an integral part in broadening the data infrastructure across Departments and Public Sector Bodies. The core concept of the NDI involves the collection, maintenance and storage, on all public sector data holdings, of the associated PPSN, Eircode and Unique Business Identifier (UBI, to be developed) whenever they are relevant to Public Sector Body transactions with customers. What is needed to achieve this, in most cases, is collection of the PPSN and home Eircode in transactions with people and the UBI and business Eircode in transactions with businesses.

Under the auspices of the Statistics Act 1993 the CSO is in a unique position to gather and link fragmented administrative data sources and evaluate their potential for statistical use. In order to produce this report, the CSO linked data from ESBN domestic connections with Building Energy Rating datasets, Revenue datasets, Geodirectory and Census of Population data, using data matching techniques described further in Background Notes and Methodology.

Engagement with ESB Networks has enabled the CSO to adjust the ESB connections data and separate out:

• Non-dwelling connections to the ESB Network (primarily farm buildings)

• Reconnections to the ESB Network after more than two years of disconnection

Further adjustments were required to take account of connections to the ESB Network of previously completed dwellings in Unfinished/Ghost estates. A methodology was developed to identify houses which were complete in 2011 and were subsequently connected to the ESB Network. Although these dwellings may have required finishing to become available for use they are not new dwelling completions for the purposes of this publication. However, housing in Unfinished/Ghost estates which were not in a complete state in 2011 are included as new dwelling completions when they are connected to the ESB Network.

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.

However, it should be noted that the CSO’s New Dwelling Completions figure does not include a full range of activity in the housing sector. In particular there has been a significant level of construction output in the student accommodation sector in recent years which are not included in this series. These are generally connected to the ESB Network as commercial connections and are therefore not included in the ESB domestic connections dataset. The data available on this sector is on a “bed space” basis and it is not currently possible to report on it as dwellings, which are self-contained units of living accommodation. Based on consultation with stakeholders in this sector, student accommodation may be included in future New Dwelling Completions reports as a separate category. Current levels of output are detailed further in the Overview section of this publication.

The CSO has endeavoured to accurately match the various datasets used in this report. However, to improve the quality of data available in the housing sector the CSO makes the following recommendations: 

1. Earlier assignment of Eircode to facilitate linking of housing datasets from the planning stage to use. Currently Eircodes are often assigned after completion of the dwelling.
2. Collection and storage of Eircodes across all Public Sector datasets referred to in this report and in future housing data collections, paying particular attention to effective collection methods for non-unique addresses.
3. Consider how enforcement of compliance with BER requirements could be further strengthened.
4. A continuation of dialogue with users through the DHPLG’s Housing Analytics Group (HAG) and other relevant groups. Initially to discuss student dwellings issue but a range of housing policy topics to be discussed. 

These recommendations will lead to better data availability for policy-makers in all segments of the housing sector in Ireland. This report is an important first step in providing more insight based on current levels of data availability and quality.  Further engagement with key stakeholders will be essential to agreeing a roadmap for future developments in this regard.

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