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24 May 2022

Forty-six turnkey houses on offer in Offaly town

Forty-six turnkey houses on offer in Offaly town

A major housing project is currently underway in Birr, at the end of which 46 new houses will have been constructed in the town

A total of forty-six turnkey houses are being provided in Birr.

Area Engineer John Mitchell told the July monthly meeting of Birr Municipal District that 12 turnkey units have been completed and allocated in MacGregol in the town, and 34 units will be provided in Woodfield (which is beside McCauley Drive). 16 units have already commenced in Woodfield and are well underway.

A “turnkey” house is exactly what it sounds like - it’s a home where you can turn the key in the lock and move right in. They’re also known as ‘move-in ready’ or ‘complete’ new homes. Turnkey homes offer a number of positive benefits to buyers, including the cost of all the essential siteworks on the land that your new home is being built on; and there's less stress because the builder or developer will have already taken care of any construction hassles.

Turnkey homes are considered to be essential for addressing the housing crisis, because they allow for the risks associated with building to be pushed back onto the developer, for a greater housing tenure mix, for social housing to be built on private land, and for accelerated house building.

As one developer pointed out, “When all costs associated with building homes such as land, levies, acquisition costs, stamp duty, VAT, and services including water, sewage, gas, electricity are added up turnkey offers value for money.”

Cllr Clare Claffey said it was great to see the new houses being built in the McCauley Drive (Woodfield) area but she has received a lot of calls from local residents expressing their concern about the heavy construction traffic in the area. “The estate already had quite busy traffic, even before the building work started.”

She pointed out that locals are worried for the safety of their children who are playing in the area, with the big construction vehicles lumbering up and down.

Cllr Claffey said a solution might lie in the construction vehicles using a different entrance, perhaps an entrance through the Lidl complex. “Could we use that instead, as an entrance? It would be safer.”

She also asked where will the entrance to the new housing estate be once all the construction work has finished.

Cllr John Leahy also welcomed the McCauley Drive (Woodfield) 34 Turnkey houses. However he had concerns.

“The building costs nationally are going up at the moment, and developers are complaining that the costs are too high. As a result I think we are going to see a slowdown in turnkeys.”

Cllr John Carroll commented that it was heartening to see the extensive building work going on at McCauley Drive.

“I am glad to see that the developer there is working closely with the residents. The situation is not ideal there, but I think overall it is positive.”

He added that as the housing crisis lurches ever on it is vital that things are sped up.

“There are vacant houses which only need a small amount of work. We should tackle them quickly and get tenants into them. There needs to be more urgency. Vacant houses, houses lying idle, are also more prone to vandalism.”

Cllr John Clendennen said the nub of the problem is the Council doesn't have a sufficient number of houses to meet the huge demand.

“This crisis is of course a massive issue and all councillors are getting regular phonecalls and texts and emails from members of the public about the problem. If you go onto daft.ie you will see that there is only a small number of houses to rent in Offaly, nowhere near the number needed to meet the demand.”

Cllr Peter Ormond said the process was too bureaucratic and officious.

“We need to shorten the whole building process, from conception to completion. It is taking way too long; you have to go through too many hoops before you actually have a building contractor on board.” He added that “the Minister has pointed out that, going forward, it will be the local Councils delivering social housing. We also need more of a mix in estates, a mix of social and affordable and private housing.”

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