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Background to the publication

The New Dwelling Completions series will be produced by the CSO on a quarterly basis. In this first report additional chapters will include analysis of other indicators of housing activity in Ireland.

A Housing Analytics Group was established in 2017 by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG). This group, which met for the first time in May 2017, is made up of representatives of bodies with a significant role in housing, housing policy and related policy areas.

The Housing Analytics Group focused on a review of housing related data published nationally and, in particular, on the number of dwellings which are built each year. Arising from the work of this group and other direct discussions between the CSO and DHPLG, a significant outcome was to assess the suitability of the current housing indicators for estimating the number of new dwelling completions in Ireland.

Historically the number of new dwellings built in Ireland, as published by the DHPLG, was based on the number of connections to the ESB Network. However, in recent years it became apparent that this series was overestimating the level of new dwelling construction in Ireland, (see the three reasons for this overcounting in the Infographic). The New Dwelling Completions series will look to replace this and other available indicators of housing activity in Ireland.

The CSO also analysed other data sources which could be used to estimate the number of new dwellings built. There are many data sources available from the various legislative and practical stages involved in building a dwelling in Ireland, for example, planning permission, Commencement Notice, Certificate of Compliance on Completion, Geodirectory, eStamping, Help-to-Buy, ESB, Protect Our Water, Building Energy Rating and Local Property Tax. However, these sources are fragmented and lack a unique identifier that can track a dwelling through all stages of the building process. Eircode is the recognised identifier for addresses in Ireland but is assigned only when a dwelling is complete and mail is being delivered. Earlier assignment of Eircodes is therefore a critical component of improving data collection and reporting on new dwellings, along with increased collection and storage of Eircodes by Public Sector Bodies in their administrative systems.

What is new about this publication?

This is the first publication of data from the CSO on New Dwelling Completions. Although the CSO has not previously published data on the numbers of new dwellings built in Ireland, it does publish statistics related to new dwellings such as planning permissions and Building Energy Rating (BER) certificates.

This new series on New Dwelling Completions will be published quarterly and will include information on dwelling type, urban/rural location, activity by county and by Eircode Routing Key. It will continue to be based on ESB connections but will correct over-coverage by using additional information from ESB Networks and incorporating data from other sources.

This New Dwelling Completions series will also include, on a quarterly basis, data on the numbers of reconnections and on houses from unfinished developments that are coming back into use. This will provide policy-makers with a valuable insight into the number of new dwellings available for occupation in the quarterly period concerned and also show data on the numbers of dwellings being constructed.

What are the main results from the New Dwelling series?

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 below). However, over the following four years the numbers 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 in Ireland.

Table 2.1: New Dwelling Completions compared with ESB connections (DHPLG), 2011 - Q1 2018
PeriodNew Dwelling CompletionsESB connections (DHPLG)Difference
Q1 20183,526  

What are the numbers of UFHDs, reconnections and non-dwellings?

The number of previously completed dwellings in unfinished housing developments (UFHDs) was 1,378 in 2011 and then rose by around 1,000 to 2,368 in 2014 before decreasing over the following three years to stand at 1,091 in 2017, (see Table 2.2 below).

The number of reconnections increased from 1,090 in 2011 to 2,888 in 2015 and then dropped to 2,685 in 2017. Non-dwelling connections averaged about 800 each year between 2011 and 2017.

Table 2.2: Adjustments made to ESB connections to derive New Dwelling Completions, 2011 - Q1 2018
PeriodESB connections1Adjustments to ESB connections to create New Dwelling CompletionsNew Dwelling Completions
1 The number of ESB connections in Table 2.1 is the series as published by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government while the number in Table 2.2 is the up-to-date series provided by the ESB in 2017.

The primary data source used for New Dwellings Completions is the ESBN connections dataset which is widely accepted as over-estimating the number of new dwellings. The CSO has adjusted for this overcount by using additional information from ESBN and other data sources, (see Table 2.2 above and Figure 2.1 below).

New Dwelling CompletionsUFHDReconnectionNon-Domestic

To develop rules to categorise dwellings from the ESB connections dataset, the CSO matched this information with Census data. Address matching is not a straightforward process and has several limitations which are exacerbated by the number of non-unique addresses in Ireland. Incorrectly matched records have been removed by the CSO so that they do not influence the classification decisions.

The CSO has utilised other available data sources to validate and enhance the ESB connections dataset. However, this was only possible where the connections dataset could be confidently linked to another dataset using unique identifiers or by address matching. As the use of Eircodes increases across data sources in the housing sector, it is expected that the quality of series on New Dwellings Completions will continue to improve.

Geographical data presented in this report is based on the location of the ESB substation for the dwelling and will therefore be categorised by the location of the substation supplying the data and not the actual location of the house.

Are student accommodation units included in the New Dwelling Completions series?

There has been a significant level of construction output in the student accommodation sector in recent years. These are generally connected to the ESB network as commercial connections and are therefore not included in the ESB domestic connections data set. 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 based on shared living facilities such as for food preparation. If more detail can be provided on this sector, it may be included in future New Dwelling Completions reports as a separate category. Current levels of output are shown in Table 2.3 below.

Table 2.3: Bed spaces completed
 Bed spaces
Q3 20161,117
Q4 20160
Q1 20170
Q2 201755
Q3 2017406
Q4 2017983
Q1 201881

Other utilities include Irish Water and Bord Gáis.

Go to next chapter >>> ESB Connections