Condition of Irish housing of serious concern, engineering report says

Condition of Irish housing of serious concern, engineering report says

26 June 2019 at 09:30

Engineers Ireland publishes 100 actions to future-proof Ireland’s built environment

Engineers Ireland ‘State of Ireland 2019 – A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland’ report finds:

  • 52% of engineers believe Ireland’s infrastructure is not in good condition and lacks capacity for future development
  • Engineers Ireland gives Irish housing a ‘D’ grade, denoting serious concern and requiring immediate action
  • More than 600,000 people in Ireland live in poor housing conditions with leaks, damp or rot
  • In the longer term almost 2 million housing units will require retrofitting and a clear roadmap, including financing and skills, should be put in place
  • Coordinated public investment in infrastructure needed to support new housing delivery
  • Modern methods of construction have the potential to increase housing output
  • Building control ‘opt out’ for one-off houses should be scrapped
  • Shortage of engineers and other construction professionals is risking critical project delivery

With more than 600,000 people in Ireland living in poor housing conditions with leaks, damp or rot, Engineers Ireland today published 100 recommended actions to future-proof Ireland’s built environment and meet environmental, social and economic goals.

The recommended actions across housing, energy, transport, communications, water/wastewater, waste and flood risk, were published as part of the membership body’s ‘The State of Ireland 2019: A review of housing and infrastructure in Ireland’ report.

The report found that 52% of professional engineers surveyed believe Ireland’s overall infrastructure is not in good condition and does not have capacity for future development. This year’s report, for the first time, focused on Ireland’s housing sector which was allocated a ‘D’ grade – highlighting the engineering expert view that the capacity, condition and connectivity of Irish housing is of serious concern and requires immediate action.

Speaking today at the launch of the report, Director General of Engineers Ireland, Caroline Spillane said: “We, like many others, are seriously concerned about Ireland’s housing. Immediate actions are needed to overcome challenges in the capacity, condition and connectivity of our housing stock. Climate action and housing action must be intertwined if we are to meet our environmental, social and economic goals as a country.”

“In this regard, it was extremely positive to see the Government’s strong focus on retrofitting Ireland’s existing housing stock and commitment to upgrade 500,000 homes by 2030 in its Climate Action Plan last week,” Ms. Spillane added, “however, to achieve this target, we need much more clarity and a roadmap, including financing and skills development. We must also acknowledge that in the longer term, almost 2 million housing units in Ireland need to be retrofitted to achieve the energy performance levels required.”

“Furthermore, and as alluded to last week by Chairman of the Climate Change Advisory Council, Professor John FitzGerald, there continues to be an acute skills shortage in the construction sector, so we have to better develop the pipeline of skills and expertise needed to convert housing and climate goals into reality,” she concluded.

The report also highlighted that a current constraint to delivering housing is in many cases the unavailability of public infrastructure, such as transportation, water and wastewater, telecommunications and energy. The report calls for increased funding and coordination of the planning and delivery of public infrastructure to improve stability of supply and affordability of new homes. The engineers also highlight the potential for modern methods of construction, such as off-site construction, to increase housing output.

Marguerite Sayers, President of Engineers Ireland, commented: “The new houses we build should achieve the very best standards of safety, sustainability and technology. For example, future homes should be smart, enabling the integration of the latest telecommunications technology, and should be adaptable, allowing evolution in layout of rooms and spaces as occupant needs change.

“The Building Regulations are minimum standards for safety and sustainability and our current housing difficulties should not lead to any dilution of building standards. In fact, our system of regulation could be strengthened by removing the building control ‘opt out’ for one-off houses and by increasing resources for inspection by Local Authorities,” Ms Sayers added.

The report’s findings are based on the deliberations of an expert advisory group of engineers and related housing professionals, including CEOs of State bodies and Local Authorities, consulting engineers, home builders, academics and a survey of over 1,700 engineers across Ireland.

The report, now in its ninth year, was launched at an event at the Engineers Ireland offices on Clyde Road, Dublin 4 that also featured an address from Marguerite Sayers, President of Engineers Ireland, and contributions from John Moran, Chairperson, Land Development Agency, Fr Peter McVerry, Peter McVerry Trust, Frank Curran, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council and Eugene Lynch, Chief Executive, McAvoy Group.

“Our recommendations, if implemented, would improve the condition, capacity and connectivity of Ireland’s housing, and make a real difference in people’s lives.  One major theme of our advisory group’s deliberations that I would like to highlight was the interrelationships between housing and the various other sectors of the built environment.  Whether it is renewable energy supplies, public transport connections, broadband access or water capacity, a holistic approach to our complex built-environment is needed if we are to overcome our current and future housing challenges,” Ms. Sayers concluded.

Other key recommendations in The State of Ireland 2019 relating to housing include the need to:

  • Nurture Ireland’s Atlantic cities (Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford) as ‘Network Cities’ through social and economic cooperation and fast and reliable connectivity
  • Actively manage public land, ensuring that the Land Development Agency has a strong mandate and sufficient capacity to coordinate the development of State lands
  • Use zoning, servicing of land and targeted investment to encourage sufficiently dense, sustainable urban development
  • Recognising the environmental impact of one-off housing, give planning permission only to those with a demonstrable economic or social need to build these houses
  • Develop a 50-year spatial plan for housing, infrastructure and services development considering long-term housing need and demographic changes
  • Incorporate a programme of life-time adaptable housing for both new and existing homes by 2020
  • Develop and adopt a Smart Readiness Indicator for Ireland and set a target of 80% of all new homes to be Smarter Homes by 2030
  • Increase the number and variety of apprenticeships and training schemes on offer to focus on modern methods of construction, sustainable urban design and ‘Retrofit managers’
  • Encourage more young people to enter and remain in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction sector

To see the ‘The State of Ireland 2019 – A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland’ report in full, please visit here.


For further information, interview opportunities or pictures, please contact:

Anne-Marie Clarke, Events and Press Officer, Engineers Ireland


Tel: 01 6651307/ 0876920894

About Engineers Ireland

With over 25,000 members, Engineers Ireland is the voice of the engineering profession in Ireland. Engineers Ireland was established in 1835 making the organisation one of the oldest and largest professional bodies in the country.  Members come from every discipline of engineering, and range from engineering students to fellows of the profession. For more information, see

About ‘The State of Ireland 2019 – A Review of Infrastructure in Ireland’

Now in its ninth year, the State of Ireland report is an insight-led, action-orientated analysis based on a series of panel discussions nationally with key engineering decision-makers across the private and public sectors. This year’s report for the first time focuses on housing and provides shorter updates on the focus areas of previous State of Ireland reports: energy, transport, communications and waste.  Published by Engineers Ireland, the report summarises the expertise of the engineering community and seeks to inform decision making on the planning, design and delivery of infrastructure to ensure the prosperity of Irish society.