Commencement notices for new residential homes last month hit their highest rolling 12-month total since the recording of the data began in 2004.
According to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, notification was received during February that work was to begin on building 2,237 new houses and apartments.
That represented an increase of 20% on the previous month and was 345% higher than February of last year, when Covid-19 restrictions were in place.
It brought to 33,006 the total number of commencement notices that have been lodged for new homes over the previous twelve months.
The department said the figures show that the number of commencement notices for new homes have increased for six of the last seven years.
In 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic led to building sites being shut down for several months, impacting significantly on the number of properties that work began on.
The largest number of commencements last month were lodged in the South Dublin County Council area where 409 were submitted.
A further 330 notices were notified in Kildare.
A total of 57% were in the greater Dublin area.
However, the chief economist at stockbroker Goodbody claims the figures show signs of stalling in construction output.
“In the three months to February, new housing commencements were 4% lower than the same period two years earlier,” said Dermot O’Leary.
“The weakness is led by Dublin, where commencements were down by 40% on a two-year comparison.”
Housing experts estimate that Ireland needs to be building in excess of 30,000 homes a year to catch up with runaway demand and provide accommodation for the future.
The Government’s Housing for All plan estimates that Ireland will need an average of 33,000 new homes to be provided each year from 2021 to 2030.
However, despite the increase in commencements, there are growing concerns that housing completions may not be able to hit those targets.
“While these commencements trends point to a near-term increase in housing supply…there are question marks as to how long it can be sustained above the 30K level due to planning delays, industry capacity and viability” said Mr O’Leary.
“There has been an increasing number of delays brought about by judicial reviews (JRs) to the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) scheme recently.”
He added that planning approvals for housing schemes have also been falling over recent years, additional materials price increases due to the conflict in Ukraine will pose further issues for viability for some schemes and scale remains an issue in the sector.
According to the Central Statistics Office, there were 20,433 homes completed in 2021, which was a reduction of 0.5% on 2020.
Analysts are predicting that up to 27,000 new homes will be finished this year.