Northern Ireland’s house building sector is making a “slow and steady” recovery although on a smaller scale than prior to the crash that saw activity plummet by almost 70% between 2006 and 2011.
The claim from Ulster Bank’s chief economist in Northern Ireland Richard Ramsey comes with the start of building work on a £50 million development to build 900 new homes in Comber, Co Down, by Hagan Homes.
The project is the largest ever carried out by the firm and is set to create 50 jobs in the first phase, which will see 17 homes ready for handover by December this year.
The overall development is scheduled to be handed over by summer 2019.
Once completed, the Enler Village development in Comber will provide for 900 homes, a business park, nursing home, sheltered accommodation, creche and retail units.
The project comes as first quarter (Q1) figures indicated almost 2,000 housing starts representing the best start to a year since 2010.
“Housing starts were 4% higher than the corresponding period last year,” said Mr Ramsey.
“Completed dwellings rose by 15% in Q1 2018 which again marked the highest figure in eight years.
“Over 7,000 housing units have been completed over the last four quarters and 2018 looks set to see the most completed dwellings since 2009.
Commenting on the Comber project, Jamesy Hagan, managing director of the family firm said he expected high levels of interest.
“The demand for superior homes in Northern Ireland, which offer value for money, remains extremely high.
“Hagan Homes build affordable, quality, stylish homes and we are renowned for our attention to detail.”
The Enler Village, Comber Consortium of construction companies includes Hagan Homes, Antrim Construction and Connolly Homes.
Across the province, Mr Ramsey said Derry City posted the strongest growth (163% y/y) for housing completions, but was third behind Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, 198, and Lisburn and Castlereagh at 183.
Both of these council areas saw the level of completions fall by close to one-quarter relative to Q1 2017.