Housing delivery will fall by up to 800 homes a week if the current Covid-related restrictions on construction are extended past March 5th, the Irish Home Builders Association (IHBA) has warned.
The building industry body said there had been only 42 cases of Covid-19 in the industry, which has been 40 per cent operational since Christmas.
It said the current hiatus in construction – in force since the beginning of January for all but essential building projects – had already taken 8,000 homes out of supply this year.
An extension of the current lockdown past the original March 5th timeline would push housing supply further away from the estimated 33,000 homes needed per annum to satisfy demand, potentially aggravating the current crisis, it said.
The Government is expected to extend the current lockdown until May amid a persistently high volume of case numbers.
The IHBA said it had been engaging “consistently” with Government to request that home building be restarted at the very earliest date.
In its statement, it acknowledged the seriousness of the current crisis while noting that home builders were playing their part in the national effort by stopping construction activity. “Our members have demonstrated that home building can operate safely throughout this pandemic and the enhanced protocols have proven effective with the new variant.
“Since the post-Christmas period, construction has continued in line with Government guidelines across various different elements of the industry. Throughout this period there has only been at peak 42 cases of Covid whilst about 40 cent of the industry is operational,” it said.
The IHBA said the industry responded positively to the delays with the number of completions last year.
“This was a result of critical infrastructure and site development at a point that allowed builders to concentrate on completions. An extended lockdown beyond March 5th will make it difficult to claw back the delivery of critical homes,” it said.
“For consumers, the continued uncertainty regarding the reopening of homebuilding is having a very negative impact. Families are seeing mortgage approvals lapse and others are now faced with prolonged periods in rental accommodation.”