Nothing has been confirmed just yet.
But builders are urging the Government to proceed with plans to reopen the construction industry in Ireland on April 5th, saying the case for a return of private home building is ‘overwhelming’.
As it stands, just 6,000 new homes could be available to private purchasers this year. The Irish Home Builders Association claims that, with every week of closure, 800 partially built homes lie idle.
“A return is the right thing because the workplace is proven to be safe, because there is an urgent societal need for new homes, and because continued closure would create serious risks of skills shortage, house price inflation, company failures and job losses,” said James Benson, Director of IHBA.
“Just as Government phased the re-opening of schools to demonstrate it could be done safely, a similar approach to construction generally could be followed with home building re-opening on April 5th.”
The group cited HSE figures showing that throughout 2021, around 40% of the construction workforce has been allowed to operate -those working on FDI and social housing projects. In that time the peak number of Covid-19 cases has been 42. The IHBA highlights that the food sector has seen a peak of 776 cases in early February.
“Allowing private home building to resume would only add an additional 14,000 workers,” said Benson.
“These workers are spread across hundreds of developments, throughout 26 counties the length and breadth of the country. Private home building is the safest sector within construction, involving natural phasing of works, low site numbers and 60% of work outdoors”.
“The sustained closure of home building also creates a growing risk of longer-term damage to the housing market. Members of the IHBA are increasingly reporting a flight of skills as tradespeople who have been idle in Ireland for three months look to open sites across Europe. Skilled workers vote with their feet -they will go home or to other countries and not come back.”