New NI house 'starts' lowest in decade
Northern Ireland had its lowest rate of new housing 'starts' in a decade in 2013, according to the latest official figures.
A housing start refers to the beginning of work on a residential property, such as the laying of foundations.
In 2013, there were 5,170 starts compared to 5,828 in 2012. That compares to more than 15,000 starts in 2005, which was the peak year.
The number of houses completed also fell year-on-year from 8,030 to 7,902.
That compares to nearly 18,000 completions in 2006, but is above the low of 6,800 in 2011.
'Signs of growth'
Meanwhile, industry figures suggest that work is picking up this year.
There were 700 new homes registered between July and September, a 71% rise from the same period last year.
The National House Building Council's (NHBC) Northern Ireland director David Little said there were encouraging signs of growth.
However, he said the figures were still low by historic standards and more new homes were needed to meet demand.
Overall UK figures for the third quarter of this year 2014 reveal that new home registrations have increased 8% on the same period last year, with the private sector continuing to be the main driver of growth.
These figures represent the highest year-to-date figures and the highest quarterly figures since 2007.
NHBC's chief executive Mike Quinton said: "We are very encouraged to see that house building is again beginning to show signs of accelerated growth across the UK.
"Following the dramatic growth in 2013, followed by a period of consolidation in the first half of this year, our latest data would suggest that the pace of growth is picking up again."