August 24, 2015

Hands up who wants to make Dublin more liveable?

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 80 comments ·
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What happens when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing? At the very least, you drop the ball.

Looking at the Dublin property market and the capital’s population strategy in general, it would seem that we are in a bizarre position where different state agencies are doing different things and, in the process, are strangling land supply in the city, driving up rents and pushing would-be city dwellers out to the commuter towns – again.

Seems crazy, but it’s true. The people who are suffering are young renters and would-be homebuyers, while those who are benefiting are the already rich who are holding on to land banks in the hope of speculative gain.

Sound familiar?

This time round, the players may be different, the names might not be so familiar, but the upshot is the same.

Let’s examine the objectives and the unintended consequences of the actions of two of the main state players in the property market: Dublin City Council and Nama, the left hand and the right hand.

Dublin City Council’s aim is to make the city more liveable. This explains the recent initiatives of making Dublin more cycling-friendly and pedestrian-friendly. In short, the objective is to make it more Copenhagen, less Coventry.

But it doesn’t matter how many cycling lanes and pedestrian zones you have. Unless you have somewhere for people to live, then by definition the city can’t be liveable. You need accommodation, and lots of it.

Dublin is full of vacant plots, and there are loads of people who want to live in the city, so why are these plots not being built on right now? Why don’t we have a sea of cranes building apartments in the city?

One of the reasons is the unintended consequences of the council trying to do the right thing. After much criticism of “jerry-built” apartments during the boom and horror stories of cowboy builders, the council has designed minimum standards for apartments.

One of these is a ban on north-facing and east-facing units. I am not too sure that many people care if their flat is east-facing; sure, it would be nicer to be west or south-facing, but let people choose. It’s not as if Dublin is blessed with consistent tropical weather which makes those long, lazy, sunny, south-west-facing evenings so essential.

The main problem for supply of this east and north-facing apartment ban is that it renders half the site worthless to a developer. So the developer will only buy the site if it comes down in price rapidly. This is one clear impediment to development, and it is a classic example of too little regulation being followed by too much; as if too much regulation now will in some way compensate for the sins of the past.

This type of regulation affects the willingness of the developer to develop, but other regulation affects whether a potential buyer can afford a place.

Take another new regulation about the minimum size of an apartment. Again, as a result of tiny apartments built in the boom, the council has deemed that the minimum size of a two-bed apartment in Dublin must now be 90 square metres. So the idea was to protect the consumer. But what has happened?

Because only half the derelict sites in Dublin can be used due to the north and east-facing ban, this rule has pushed up the cost of building.

Based on current costs (according to Ronan Lyons of Daft), a typical couple earning €45,000 can’t afford an apartment of more than 60 square metres.

Unless the Central Bank loosens its credit criterion for first-time buyers (which it won’t and shouldn’t), the average first-time buyer is being squeezed out of the city by the consequences of regulation that was supposed to protect, wait for it, the first-time buyer.

But surely the costs of sites should fall to reflect this reality? This is where the left hand/right hand dilemma comes in.

At the margin, Nama controls the property market in Dublin. It has contributed enormously to the speculative frenzy in sites.

Nama’s objective is to recover as much money as possible from the calamity of the bust as soon as possible. Therefore, it wants to get the best price possible for development land.

As huge US investment funds and Reits have come in here with lots of cash, they have driven a speculative mania in development land.

Once prices rise (and, more importantly, are allowed to rise) dramatically, the market changes. It becomes a speculative market where bids are not based on concrete cost analysis but the speculative element of “flipping”. Again, does this sound familiar?

When a market becomes speculative, land banking starts, whereby investors hoard land in the expectation of further land price increases. Nama is orchestrating this.

The foreign private equity funds that now own the prime land in Dublin are not developers; they are fund managers who are driven by spreadsheets and targets, rather than building plans and ambitions.

They might as well own stocks or bonds.

The upshot of Nama’s policy of selling to US private equity outfits is that the land is being hoarded, rather than built on. This, of course, is at odds with the government’s stated objective of making Dublin a more liveable city, and of providing affordable accommodation for Irish citizens.

So we have a situation where people who want to live in the city can’t afford to, because of too much well-intentioned but ill-conceived regulation and Nama creating a hyped-up market in land, which excludes developers and rewards speculators.

A “use it or lose it” tax could be introduced to force speculators to sell to developers, who then undertake to develop with less stringent guidelines, which in turn allow affordable apartments to be built and to be lived in.

This tax or penalty for land hoarding would bring down the cost of land and rekindle the value in city sites, allowing the true liveable potential of Dublin to be fulfilled.

All we need to do is allow the left hand and the right hand to know what each other is doing.

That can’t be too hard. Or can it?


  1. Antaine

    Subscribe :-)

  2. DB4545

    The article gives a fair analysis of both sides of the argument David. I don’t think there should be any leeway on minimum size of apartments. I think this should also incorporate a minimum two bedroom design if it doesn’t already.This is because developers being developers will create warrens of slum housing if allowed to get away with it.I’m in favour of family friendly cities and slums don’t attract families or tourists. The capital city is a showcase for the Country too.

    The east/north restriction seems bizarre and maybe an architect could explain the logic in this. Clever design should be able to mitigate this to some degree.Why not follow the European or US convention and incorporate basements for storage/parking? It adds 10% to the cost at the new build stage.

    The georgian design with a rear common rear courtyard allows for a lot of flexibility and 6 to 10 housing units. In europe (berlin in particular) these courtyards provide a safe playing area for kids in addition to providing a picnic area,some parking and a waste collection point. Ten family units sharing a common space will look after each other and the shared space better than a space shared by 100′s. This has many positive social benefits in terms of keeping an eye on the elderly,childminding and general security.

    There is another factor that will impact access to housing and that’s the airbnb effect. If you’re lucky enough to own property in key areas in most cities you are now sitting on a goldmine. The 2-3 bed unit that attracted 1000-1200 a month? It can gross 2500-4000 a month on airbnb. Few locals can compete in that market. It’s becoming an issue in many cities.One to watch.

    • Sideshow Bob

      DB4545,

      David McW has way over exaggerated the restrictions. I would love to know where he got this idea because it is way off the mark. The restrictions are listed below and referenced should anybody wish to look them up.

      It is permissible to build apartments facing the north and east. But they must have a wall with windows facing another cardinal point, including north or east. The only thing which is not permissible are single aspected i.e. an apartment with one straight exterior wall only facing north or east.

      Excerpt follows.

      254 | DUBLIN CITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2011 – 2017
      17.9.1 Residential Quality Standards

      A2
      In relation to apartments, a minimum of
      85% of the units in a scheme must have
      dual aspect, that is, have at least two major
      external walls facing different directions
      in order to provide for optimum natural
      lighting, cross ventilation and sunlight
      penetration. Dual aspect can include
      corner units, through apartments and
      crossover duplexes.

      Single aspect apartments must be south
      or west facing and be limited in depth to
      8 m from a window to provide adequate
      daylight and natural ventilation. North or
      east facing single aspect apartments will
      not be permitted.

      • Dorothy Jones

        Good SSB, I had to look that up to check also after I read the article, because I thought I had missed something…. We are dealing with a number of residential proposals currently and find Planning Authorities supportive of good quality residential schemes. Publishing inaccuracies in relation to guidelines isn’t helpful to anyone. I wonder why David did that? D

  3. Mike Lucey

    “That can’t be too hard. Or can it?”

    Yes and no,

    Innovative design can get around the problem of North / East facing plots using ‘tech’ solutions to redistribute sunlight as desired in the dwelling. Also clever design can better utilise smaller areas with the use of ‘transforming’ rooms/areas to achieve very livable configurations. Just look at the ‘Tiny House’ movement to see what can be achieved.

    But again aren’t things going to plan as far as facilitating the rape/plunder of Ireland by the ‘money men’ ? It will continue until ‘the People’ take back control of government and the monetary system.

    So no, it shouldn’t be to hard but it will entail kicking out the current big finance/business facilitating political parties and replacing them with politicians that are directly answerable to and and recallable by the citizens that give them the job in the first place. The political ‘compromise’ gap has to be closed off. Maybe we will see a move along these lines with the rise of the independents in the next Dail.

    I think this penny could be dropping with many US citizens when they look at Donald Trump, like him or loath him, many see him as non or at least less corruptible by big business/banks whatever his other faults and they appear to be many.

    If he becomes the next US president I think he really would need to beef up his own private security as the Secret Service have a tendency the ‘stand down’ at times, literally by not standing on a president’s car tail boards when assassins are in place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=eP6jDM6sXhA

  4. David,

    Dublin’s approach to planning policy is appalling. Dublin’s answer to lack of supply is its recent announcement it will change planning regulations to make small dingy flats even smaller and dingier. Little contributes more to social deprivation than poor planning policy, not to mention the negative effect poorly designed spaces have on ones state of mind. The new development plan for the docklands is to build a mass of low rise, dull and characterless boxes in the heart of Dublin’s business district. It beggars belief. Why can’t we in Ireland build upwards? What is the issue here? Not to do so is a gross waste of land and a missed opportunity to create a high density, high efficiency international quarter, and let’s face it, a statement that demonstrates our strength and ability in global business.

    The Irish are proven leaders with a world renowned entrepreneurial spirit. Our forefathers built half of New York and London. We are now leaders in business there. Dublin needs iconic buildings to make a truly iconic city. Global business needs and wants a defined central business core. The best way to achieve this is to build upwards. It centralises all of the intellectual firepower and if executed intelligently, it is conducive to social and economic progression. The lack of residential supply in Dublin demands higher density. This allows transport links like a metro to operate far more efficiently.

    We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We could parachute a refined version of an already world class urban development policy Like London’s directly into the development plan for the docklands. High rise buildings could be clustered into zones. When the Gherkin was first mooted in London, it was met with opposition. So was the Shard, now western Europe’s tallest building. Amazingly, Londoners now believe these buildings define the city; they have embraced them and love them. All world class cities need world class buildings. Is Dublin a world class city?

    In a previous article you asserted that today, Ireland’s tallest structures are the tell-tale signs of dispossession. These are the church steeples dotted around the country built in the 1700s and 1800s. I could not agree more with you. Well, it is time to repossess. Please have a word with Minister Kelly on my behalf.

    • Deco

      The Irish were incentivized to build much of New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, London, Birmingham, Glasgow.

      But Dublin only incentivizes brown envelopes full of cash, and “planning permission, no problem” gombeen politicians.

      Alan Kelly, like the rest of FF/FG/LP is a showman, and nothing more. Replace him, and the rest of the fakes.

      • Sideshow Bob

        I saw a picture of an old Rambo poster today ( First Blood Part 2 ) and I thought of Alan almost immediately…

      • Bamboo

        Are we not too delusional to want an iconic building?

        Dublin has lots of very iconic features. Look at all the drunks and idiots, the dirt, the chaotic traffic, the puke on the streets, the divide by the river between Dublin north and south. Isn’t that sufficiently iconic to be proud of. Where else can you find this in a European capital? Can someone tell me, please.

  5. McCawber

    Where first:
    We have tram infrastructure – We should build along it.
    We have the Shannon – We would be planning to expand Limerick toward Shannon and Ennis. Starting with the construction of a Luas system and using the Ennis rail link.
    When? now and site sizes should be bigger – Back to 50s/60s.
    Why – In fifty years time nobody will be working so the need to concentrate accommodation in the city centre will be gone.
    We need to start planning now.
    Some early improvements to planning standards would include.
    1. Power boxes supplied with space to install photovoltaic solar/mains equipment with cables pre-run to terminal points in the attic or wherever is appropriate.
    2. All houses fitted with hot water tanks which are suitable for the connection of Solar water heating, again with plumming and cabling pre-run to terminal points.
    In addition builders must offer the option of an already installed water panel.
    3. All houses fitted with at least one water butt.
    4. All house supplied with the toilet and washing machine circuits separated so that they can be supplied via mains water or tank water.
    All house fitted with 6000ltr underground tank storage which can be used to catch rainwater and supply to toilets etc.
    None of the above planning standards are revolutionary and are tried and tested.
    Item 1 is based on the liklihood that PV solar panels will become economic in the not too distant future – less than ten years by my guess.

    Just an alternative view!

    • Antaine

      The powers that be don’t want people to be able to harvest their own rainwater or supply their own power. That’s their job and to charge us through the nose for it but the main thing is that we rely on them for it.

    • McCawber

      Or if you don’t agree about the “end of employment” theme then most people will be working form home.
      Either way it makes no difference.

    • Deco

      No. Limerick recently got a traffic tunnel first, and now you are proposing a Luas. This is madness.

      Will the people of Limerick/Clare pay for this ? Or will they ask taxpayers in the East region to pony up the cash (again).

      Limerick has a rail link to Galway which already costs a fortune. And is slower than the bus journey between the two locations.

  6. Mike Lucey

    I do not accept that Dublin must be a so called ‘iconic city’ with high rise residential buildings. If that happens it will be like so many cities around the world where you have to think twice about where you are!

    We must ‘cut our cloth according to our measure’ and the measure is a countrywide population of just 4,591,087 people, a National Debt of $236,506,29?,??? (I do not show the last 5 digits because they move too quickly), an Interest per Year of $11,518,500,000 which is $365 per second (and rising fast) and a Debt per Citizen of $51,514 on a GDP of $204,699,000,000 which I understand to be ‘made up’ by a large portion of MN tax avoiding entities.

    Instead of shaping Dublin into an ‘iconic city’ to look attractive to fly-by night MN tax haven seekers we should instead be building on sound foundations, our land, sea and climate resources. These resources cannot easily be snapped up but we run the risk of them being fully controlled by the very entities that some seem to want to facilitate in the ‘iconic city’.

    Ireland needs to to take a ‘get real’ pill very soon and stop thinking we are ‘big players’ in the world of finance and big multi national tax haven facilitation as the latter will move at the drop of a hat to other fools willing to let them take advantage.

    We have a population density of 65 persons per square kilometer, one of the lowest in the EU yet many feel the need to create an unnatural population imbalance which will over time prove to be unsustainable from the naturally available life sustaining resources point of view, drinking water is the first that comes to mind, clean air is another.

    Now we are seeing contrived shortages in the area of housing as David McW points out. Of course this makes perfect sense to the ‘controllers’ as they like things nice and centralized, less footwork and time consuming monitoring involved for them.

    Mike

    • Cynicism laced with sarcasm stifles progress. Just because the government failed to understand the incompetence’s of the regulator, who failed to regulate the banks, which hitched us with a huge portion of our debt; it does not mean we should continue to make ill-informed decisions as to the use of our land in Dublin. As I said, intelligent planning is what is required. Low rise sprawling urban centres are known to be detrimental to the social fabric of a city. Take LA as an example: wide spread low rise urban sprawl highly conducive to social unrest.

      As for the rest of our land, sea and climate resources, I am a strong advocate for utilising the best renewable energy source in Europe for renewable energy; the wind off our west coast for example. Our reputation in agriculture is second to none and we are expanding to new markets in America and China which is great. We should look to establish these economic resources as well as ensuring our cities are developed sensitively and sustainably for our people.

      Ireland is a great country to start a business but as a well-known broadcaster and entrepreneur said, it is not a great place to grow a global business. We do not want to be over reliant on MNs. Institutions like Enterprise Ireland are great for small business. Government should engage with such institutions to look at a bigger picture. In future, as well has having MNs in the country, we should strive to expand our IMN’s like the Galabias, Kerry Groups, Ryanairs and Avolons. Clearly, we have the people, many of whom find better infrastructures and support systems abroad. I think this is a better approach than accepting the status quo.

      • McCawber

        Wind energy is a busted flush. It’s overhyped and there only because it was the low lying fruit.
        Don’t believe any of the BS you hear from the greens or the wind people or the politicians because it’s a terrible waste of scarce investment resources and has resulted in much higher Electricity prices that would otherwise be the case.
        It has only limited benefit and like in the Celtic Tiger times we have totally over invested and over built wind generation capacity.
        Solar or Nuclear are the only real longterm options.
        Even with Solar you still need a means of storing the energy.

        • Mike Lucey

          @McCawber

          I’m okay with Ireland going with fusion reactors but not fission. The Germans are right is what they are doing, shutting down the high risk fission reactors. The whole world will be paying the cost of Fukushima for a long time to come. http://fukushimaupdate.com

          According to Lockheed Martin we may not have to wait too long for affordable and safe fusion reactors. http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/compact-fusion.html

          Mike

          • Interesting link, thanks Mike.

            These guys seem pretty convinced that they are going to succeed in what they are doing and Lockheed Martin is a pretty ‘reputable’ firm (if that is not a contradiction in terms), notwithstanding the fact that they are part of the military-industrial complex and will probably use some portion of this new technology to bomb the hell out of some random country.

            I’m surprised their buddies in the oil industry haven’t yet tried to buy them out and close down the research – maybe they will try.

          • Mike Lucey

            @Adam

            Viable fusion nuclear reactors were thought to be thirty plus years down the road up until recently but its the likes of Lockheed Martin with loads of clout that are able to invest sufficient resources to deliver earlier, perhaps within the next ten years.

            I doubt the oil barons and money men will try to shut down this type of innovation, more likely they will just buy into it to maintain their control of the energy markets. They fully know that we have passed peak oil and are now on the downside slope.

            The ‘military-industrial complex’ engine of the US economy will no doubt use this tech to hold control for as long as they can. Hey, they probably have orders in for compact fusion reactors for their carriers and subs and Lockheed Martin is on big grants to get the job done. Remember the missing $2.3 trillion that Donald Rumsfeld was enquiring about back in 2011. Never got to the bottom of it as it seems the Pentagon office with the files was destroyed!

            On the subject of the US military-industrial complex. I am heavily involved in SketchUp, a 3D modelling application and learned that part of its initial funding back in 2000 came from the US military-industrial complex.

            Many useful and innovative techs have been funded by the military-industrial complex. Or course their intended use for these techs and the public’s use are often polar opposites. Every cloud have a silver lining.

          • Thanks for the insights Mike.

            $2.3 trillion – wow, how can that much ‘go missing’ – crazy.

      • McCawber

        Would you be aware for instance that the wind producers get paid a guaranteed amount per MWH they produce and worse they get paid even if there isn’t enough demand for the power they could produce. It’s blood boiling stuff that the public are kept well in the dark about.
        To illustrate. Say there is 2000MW of installed wind gen and it’s blowing a gale but there is only 1500MW of demand. The wind producers get paid for 2000MWs.
        That’s just a simple best case scenario. It’s actually a lot worse.

        • Mike Lucey

          McCawber

          I wasn’t aware of this type of subsidization but am not surprised.

          Electricity generating wind farms really need to look at the progress that has been made with Wind to Hydrogen Units. Hydrogen seems to be much more cost effective when it comes to storage.

          Honda is looking seriously at the combined tech and are aiming to produce hydrogen fuel cars as are BMW.

          Mike

      • Mike Lucey

        @ e05bf082

        “Cynicism laced with sarcasm stifles progress”. I take it you are directing that comment at me. I somehow have to agree with you. I have always been a bit cynically sarcastic, nearly always tempered with a little humour to soften the punch but over the past few years I have turned into a really ‘grumpy old man’ when it comes to politics, finance and big business.

        It has an effective upside though! I tend not to care or worry too much about being cynically sarcastic towards those that need a kick in the arse and a ‘get real’ pill shoved down their neck ;-)

        Mike

  7. Dorothy Jones

    The Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015, no. 33 of 2015 was enacted on 28-07-2015 and affects residential developments.

    http://www.oireachtas.ie/viewdoc.asp?fn=/documents/bills28/acts/2015/a3315.pdf

    This affects the provision of social housing [20% to maximum 10%] and the reduces the level of Development Contributions.

    It also imposes a levy on sites which are not developed.

    A brief synopsis of the Act is contained in the following link:

    http://www.matheson.com/news-and-insights/article/the-urban-regeneration-and-housing-act-2015-has-been-signed?utm_source=Mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_campaign=View-Original

    • Sideshow Bob

      Thanks for posting the links and the second link in particular.

      This is a `camel´ if ever I have seen one. This has so many exceptions written into it and wades so far into land and contract law I can´t see what it can possibly achieve. I can´t even see how it can be administered it.

      I wonder is Alan Kelly responsible for this?

      • Deco

        I don’t think Alan Kelly is suitable for any responsibility yet.

        Maybe we can wait for him to grow up first, and then decide.

  8. Sideshow Bob

    David McWilliams,

    Another error in your piece, to the rather large one that I pointed out above, is as follows;

    The minimum size in the DCC Development plan ( p.254 ) for a 2 bed unit, the most ubiquitous apartment size, is 80 M sq. not 90 M sq. In the boom these units were typically sized in the mid-sixties and were inadequate principally in relation to kitchen & utility areas and available internal storage. Part M or universal access / lifetime homes provisions were also found often to be sub-par. To make them really live-able in the medium to long term for families, like apartments in most places in the world, they need to get bigger at a minimum by 15-20 percent, and in a specific fashion. This is an improvement on quality particularly if you actually aspire to having a more live-able city with a denser population like you say. It is not something to moan about.

    Seriously, David McW, can I ask where you got your information on this matter? It is very inaccurate and biased. Your assertion about not being able to build north or east facing units, rendering half of all sities unusable is largely incorrect. This is the second time you have brought this matter up inaccurately in your columns, too. Sounds like a disgruntled builder/developer has been feeding you some nonfactual biased opinions to be honest. And then you have gone on to repeat them!

    Rgds,

    SSB.

  9. StephenKenny

    The 90 sq meter rules are enlightened, absolutely opposite to those across the water in the UK (who’re recently got rid of all such ‘restrictions’), and however many backward steps here are, this at least is a step forward.

  10. McCawber

    I would also ban absolutely ban one bed room apartment construction.
    An apartment will span more than one user’s residence lifestyle.
    One bedroom restricts its use significantly.

  11. Deco

    A local authority in Dublin found with it’s head up it’s arse. Again. And it could be any one of them.

    I would ban developments of less than 6 stories. And after that let people build whatever they want, within certain architectural aesthetic standards.

    The latest trend in North American cities is a small scale apartment in the city, close to the office for young urban workers (who are often originally from another city or country). I think these are called micro-apartments. A result of the fact that you can now get so much on a mobile-phone/kindle that a bookshelf is not needed. And electric heaters are small and efficient.

    Dublin needs micro-apartments. The morons in DCC have decided to ban them.

    • DB4545

      Deco

      I lived in one of those micro apartments for a very brief period in Munich about 33 years ago. They should be banned they are anti social. I think if anyone had to live in one for an extended period they would go insane. A developers dream and a dystopian nightmare for humans. It’s like paying rent to live in a prison cell.

      Four to six floors max incorporating the elements I’ve already mentioned. We have to provide flexibility over several generations not just knee jerk short term solutions. Human worker bees living in shoe boxes is not the solution unless you want a generation of asocial serial killers on your hands. There’s enough social isolation in the world without compounding it with bad planning.

      • Deco

        I lived in a root attic for 15 months. It was one room. There was an area for eating beside a sink and an electric hob. One side window north facing. One window looking out over other roofs. It was east facing. The sun shone on the ceiling in the morning.

        I had a radio, and my books in the evening. I went for walks at least twice per week. In fact it was a great period, because I had no television, and I managed to get a lot of very productive reading in. I started Tai Chi, which provided both exercise, and a wider social circle.

        And everything was fine. In fact it was a fortunate release from the predictable setting of being in a house where everything is centred on a bullsh!t box in the sitting room.

        Sorry, but I am reading three replies that amount to three people pouring forth their inner negativity, whilst protecting social conditioning.

      • Mike Lucey

        Enforced minimum size apartments / houses is a bad idea. As long as the unit complies with Building Regs all designs should be acceptable. The market will determine whats needed or not, good and bad.

        The ‘land bank’ taxing is a good way to keep speculation down and hopefully it will work as intended.

        Currently my wife and I are living in a quite large 4 bedroom house in a nice area. We raised our family in this house with adequate room but now we have too much room and not enough income after pension collapses so its looking like a downsize in on the cards to free up some cash.

        When I built the house I really should have designed it so that could be quickly and cheaply divided into two 2 bedroom units. If I had this option I could remain in situ and have a rent stream coming in to supplement income and at the same time help to address the accommodation shortage in my neck of the woods.

        Housing should really be designed to be far more flexible when it comes to chopping and changing the layout. Flexible designs would be good for neighbourhoods / communities as they would foster a mix of age groups, singles, young couples, large and small families and the empty nesters.

        The last place I want to end up in is some place surrounded by fellow ‘cotton tops’ waiting for the next round of bingo. I’d prefer to take my chances in a living community, warts and all.

        Just noticed an article in Gizmag where Architect Brad Swartz discusses his winning tiny home formula
        http://www.gizmag.com/darlinghurst-apartment-brad-swartz/39058/

        At 27-square meter (290-sq ft), it is small than many living rooms here in Ireland but it shows what some thoughtful design can achieve.

        Mike

        • DB4545

          Mike

          If you have enough sq footage on your garden/land consider a shipping container properly converted. That gives you the micro home and the main house is freed up for airbnb or other rental income stream..and the government doesn’t get another chunk of stamp duty. Worth a thought and doable for 25-30k.

          • Mike Lucey

            Thanks for the suggestion DB but ‘She who must be obeyed’ has spoken and its away we go.

            The plan is to spend 6 months plus a year with our daughters, son-in-law and grandson in NZ and Oz and then 3 months plus (Summertime) in Ireland. I’ve been offered a part-time 3D consultancy job in Oz / NZ so it could be a new lease of life.

            I quite like the idea of living in a 30 foot RV (artic) with a pickup for day travel. Something along the lines if this, http://www.rvtrader.com/listing/Keystone-Cougar%20279RKSWE-115495435/

          • DB4545

            Mike Lucey

            That’s the way to travel Mike.I have a cousin in Oz doing just that. He’s retired four years now and still travelling in the parts of Oz that’ll take the vehicle. He’s up in the NT at the moment avoiding”the hard Aussie winters” in his words.

          • Safe travels Mike.

            I’m off to Antigua tomorrow myself for a few months.

            See you all at Christmas.

            Adam.

          • Mike Lucey

            Cheer Adam, enjoy while you can and make sure you have a few cans of baked beans to hand;-)

        • McCawber

          I like my space and I’ll bet a lot more do.
          My point is once you build it you’re stuck wiht it. Build it too small and you limit it to a very specific market and I think that’s bad planning.

    • McCawber

      This is not the US.
      We don’t need to cram our population into sh!t housing.
      I would ban building above 6 storeys high.

      • Deco

        Look at Limerick. We are already doing it. And it consists of Semi-Ds.

        Mostly as a result of the criminal justice system being designed primarily for the benefit of the legal profession. In other words, crime DOES pay.

        Crime is lucrative for lawyers. The more crime, the more “stimulus” for the legal profession.

    • McCawber

      Well good for the morons.
      That at least shows some sign of having learned from the Celtic Tiger Builder/Developer/Banker BS.

      • Sideshow Bob

        Improved standards were in place at the start of the crash from 2007 on-wards…but little has been built since …what is going on here, and what David McW seems to be repeating, is the builder/developer agenda of badmouthing of said improvements and seeks to claw back those standards, to increase profits. The lessons learned exercise will be measured by our ability to resist this backward movement.

  12. Regulations are simply a manipulation of the market place. One man’s meaqt is another man’s poison. all argue here about what should and should not be. Thank god you are not the regulators as you would have it all wrong for 80% of the people.

    North side banned when I have met people who love them. Let only south side apartments have no cross flow ventilation. I have been in many of these very same places which are stiflingly hot regardless of the wind direction.

    Safety regs. I can agree with. Proper access and egress in the event of fire. Built in water fire systems, fire alarms etc. Standards of engineering and construction yes.

    All the rest or most is overkill.

    It is time to let the market decide. If the developer does it wrong, it does not sell and they are gone, out of business. Good riddance and good luck. Try another line of business.

    All I see is a string of restrictions that add to the costs so that only the wealthy will be able to afford the shoeboxes being built to live within.

    Zoning is another. In Victoria there is multiple family zoning. No distinction
    is made for owner occupied condominium apartments and apartment rentals.
    In as much as owner occupied housing sells at twice, with not a substantial difference in building costs, the price of rental property, what would you build?

    This resulted in two things. No apartment rentals have been built unless subsidised. A lot of rental apartment have been converted to owner occupied condos.

    Result. A shortage of rentals, rising rental rates, and government stimuative programs to develop rental property. None have worked well. It goes to show that bad regulation cannot be overcome with more of the same.

    On the other hand, a municipal area of greater Victoria called Langford has had a renaissance. A new mayor of Langford wipe the slate clean and started again.

    Any developer with a question of the city staff about what could be built or not, presented plans and received a definitive answer with 30 days. The result was a building boom of business warehouses and box stores, townhouses, single family homes and tower blocks. Mainstreet beautification, attractive architecture, parks, trails, bicycle tracks etc.

    It all depends on who inhabits City Hall

    • DB4545

      Tony

      I think I’d still prefer some regulation than have Brazilian style favelas on the side of the Dublin mountains.Great if you’re living in beachfront property in Rio but not so good if your living in a shack on a mountain two degrees shy of vertical.Given that choice a bit of market manipulation can be useful.

  13. http://www.jsmineset.com/

    Before worrying about the real estate market one should worry about financial security.

    Lastly, this is not about China, it is not a “correction”, it is not because of a “slowdown”. This is the beginning of the Great Credit Unwinding and will take EVERYTHING “credit” with it. Do you understand what “everything credit” actually is? Holter/ Sinclair

    By now I probably should not have to explain what is “not credit”. Simply put, “real physical gold and silver unencumbered Holter-Sinclair cooperation

    Soon, before September ends, the door opens up to silver and gold as the last men standing. Jim Sinclair

    • McCawber

      Gold and Silver are not for the great unwashed.
      That is the basic flaw in your solution, it will only work for the select few or even just a few.

      As the original McCawber implied.
      We wouldn’t need gold or silver backed anything if governments/people lived within their means.

      We will continue to get booms and busts as long as people behave irresponsibly. Meanwhile the select few will get rich.
      There’s a sense of involuntary stupidity in all of this.
      A smart man learns from his mistakes.
      An even smarter man learns from other’s mistakes.
      Booms and Busts repeated suggests a lack of smartness.

      As an aside the B&Bs have been getting worse, the swings getting bigger. In a physical system that indicates instability and ultimately leads destruction if left unchecked.

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      • “Gold and Silver are not for the great unwashed.”

        That is exactly what gold and silver is for. One has to understand the value of gold/silver as honest money. Money based on gold prohibits the expansion of the money supply as inflation. Inflation robs the poor before anyone else. Those that control the money get it free under the Ponzi scheme as we operate it. The wealth of the people is skimmed off for the elites to accumulate.
        The rest of us see the results in that it takes more money to buy stuff. The poor suffer the most.

        The governments spend profligate amounts of money that has not been earned on vacuous promises to the population. The US has not run a balanced budget in the last 50 years. Since abandoning the last of the connection to gold in 1971 The national debt in the US has sky rocketed. Since 2000 it has gone exponential when looked at on a plotted graph. This can not happen with a currency tied to gold. https://www.google.ca/search?q=graph+of+US+debt&espv=2&biw=1242&bih=585&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0CBwQsARqFQoTCN3r3ZegxscCFU8riAod8ckPow

        Why gold? Because gold is immutable and does not decay, it acts as a storage of wealth. It cannot be replicated. It is easily divisible. It is fungible. It has great value in a small quantity, so easily portable.

        It has work for the people for thousands of years. Every time it is abandoned, debased, or replace there is economic chaos.
        The Chinese know this. They invented both paper and gunpowder. They used paper money hundreds of years ago and destroyed two dynasties. A third time the rulers were saved by reverting from paper to metallic PM money.

        Here is one account from a quick Google search.
        http://www.silk-road.com/artl/papermoney.shtml

        You will note that all is fine while the paper note is fully convertible for cash. The trouble starts when the notes are not backed by cash. There is unlimited printing resulting in hyper inflation every time.

        It is imperative that all money be cash. All notes or currency must represent cash and be 100% convertible.

        Gold and silver cash is for all of the people all the time.

        Finally we consider the fact that not only is our money not backed by cash. It is not even issued as an asset. Our current money is loaned into existence at interest. Consequently the paper/digital money is an IOU. Therefore our economy is operated under a debt based credit system of money. It is impossible to be prosperous under such a system.

        It is 100% certain that until we return to an asset based cash money we will not solve any of the problems.

        The current money is a fraudulent Ponzi scheme.
        Because it is dishonest it requires trickery and deceit to have it remain functioning. Most of the people are still totally deceived and think there is nothing wrong with our money. This dishonesty leads to a moral corruption that finds its way into all levels of government and business. It is so overpowering that an honest person meets with little success.

        As such all people are corrupted but this is the new normal and few realize. To maintain the system governments and bankers must manipulate and regulate to greater and greater excess. Government lie and manipulate the statistical reporting. Regulators do not up uphold their mandate.

        Businesses are subsidized directly or with preferential taxation policy. Currency values are manipulated by artificial constructs by issuing more credit or withdrawing it.

        Fractional reserve banking allows the creation of multiples more of currency than can be supported by assets. The current total world debts and nominal derivative value far exceed the productive capacity of the world to repay.

        You cannot seriously tell me that this is beneficial for the “great unwashed”.

        Only a return to asset based money based on gold and silver will allow the equitable distribution of the result of mankind’s labour to the greatest number of people, rather than to the select few.

  14. Deco

    China is not a major factor in the Irish economy.

    It matters to the dairy sector. And it might result in continued low interest rates. It will result in people returning from Aus, and Western Canada. But these are not the dominant factor in Ireland’s economy right now.

    The current Nasdaq bubble IS the dominant factor. In fact, it has been the dominant factor for the past 5 years.

    The next 12 months will be all about the Nasdaq members and their ongoing cash vortexes.

    • DB4545

      Deco

      I was reading a news report on the potential impact for the Australian economy and the Aussie prime minister trotted out “the fundamentals are sound” line.Sounded just like our economic genius Mr. Brian Cowen of the soft landing school of economics. The soft landing a plane has when it comes to a sudden stop into the side of a mountain.I hope he’s not using Brain’s scriptwriter.

    • Mike Lucey

      @Deco

      I think you are right about the China situation and the effect this will have on the Irish working in Oz and Canada.

      I learned an interesting fact this morning in relation to China. Over that past three years they have used 6.6 gigatons (thats 6,600,000,000) of cement compared to 4.5 gigatons (thats 4,500,000,000) used by the USA over the past 100 years! Thats one hell of a lot of building!

      It looks to many commentators that the Nasdaq bubble is about to pop or worse, explode. I think we could be looking at the start of this if Damian McBride, Gordon Brown former adviser is right in his ‘tweeted’ advice,

      ‘Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser’ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/stock-up-on-canned-food-for-stock-market-crash-warns-former-gordon-brown-advisor-10469509.html

      ‘Damian McBride is a former Whitehall civil servant and former special adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. McBride began his civil service career at HM Customs and Excise. He worked with Customs and Excise and later became Head of Communications at the UK Treasury until 2008.’

      “Advice on the looming crash, No.1: get hard cash in a safe place now; don’t assume banks & cashpoints will be open, or bank?cards will work,” he tweeted.

      “Crash advice No.2: do you have enough bottled water, tinned goods & other essentials at home to live a month indoors? If not, get shopping.

      “Crash advice No.3: agree a rally point with your loved ones in case transport and communication gets cut off; somewhere you can all head to.”

      I would be inclined to listen to a former Head of Communications at the UK Treasury. I still occasionally (re-watch) Yes Prime Minister on Gold and the more I see the more I realise that the these job-for-life Senior Civil Servants seem to have the inside track of what is on the cards. Yes Prime Minister shows the politicians to be what they possibly are, self preserving opportunists mostly.

      Maybe its not such a bad idea to have a suitcase of baked beans and a stock of water contained in the shed ……. just in case the excrement collides with the rotating airscrew.

      Mike

      • Sideshow Bob

        Crash advise points 2) and 3) would also work well for a `zombie apocalypse´ senario, although some weapons might be required as well!

        …just saying…

      • Sideshow Bob

        Labour is dirt cheap in China so everything, and I mean everything, goes up in concrete despite a slower time-frame for completion. The time element is compensated for by almost round the clock 7 days a week working environment that exists and the fact that foremen/developers ignore engineers on the subject of curing times and bang on as soon as things look like they will hold themselves up. Your figures aren´t too surprising as a lot of construction in the US is wood or steel framed. But as you pointed out – yes it is a hell of a lot of building!

      • McCawber

        Crash Advice Note 1 Stock up on a lot more tinned food etc than you need and you can make a fortune profiteering.
        But beware of socialists, they’ll want you to give it to them for nothing.
        As for water, just collect rain water (in those water butts I mentioned earlier, that way you’ll be able to flush your toilets and have a decent wash etc etc)

        • Antaine

          What if the Socialists have been stockpiling and they’re willing to share what they have with you? Are those socialists ok? :-)
          Maybe in that case the socialists will become capitalists and milk you for all you have for a tin of grapefruit segments and some tinned mackerel in sunflower oil.

          • DB4545

            Antaine

            Socialists don’t stockpile or provide. They expect that function to be performed by “others”. They have nothing that they’d like to share with you. We have the usual charities now calling for government action on the refugee “crisis”. These NGO’s are funded to the tune of over 640 million Euros annually by Irish taxpayers. One of their spokesmen/salesmen wants Irish taxpayers to pony up for the funding.I can virtually guarantee that the refugees won’t be eating into his salary or living anywhere near him.

            But I’m probably being a little insensitive.However there is a large house in the middle of the phoenix park that is under occupied.One of the leading Irish socialists of our generation lives there. I wonder if it’ll be opened up as a refugee processing centre? City centre location so the Irish taxpayer doesn’t even need to hand out bus passes.Again I’ll see pigs flying over a blue moon before that happens.

          • McCawber

            I have my tins of beans.
            I have an orchard, I dug the holes and planted the trees myself.
            I grow some of my own vegetables.
            I have my own water butt, long before water charges were re-introduced.
            What do socialists do?
            Real socialism is where everyone contributes.
            And just as important shows respect for the fact that some contribute more than others.
            IE I’m happy that all contributors are equal but that some are more equal than others so long as everyone is contributing.
            But I’d like to hear and see some respect and appreciation rather than snide comments about being an idiot for working hard, earning a living and being independent when I could just sponge off the state.

            And bottom line I do not begrudge the entrepreneurs, one iota of their success and reward, who make all of the above possible.

          • DB4545

            McCawber

            I’m happy and lucky to be able to contribute. I’d just like it going in the right direction, food and housing and education to families who need it, care for the elderly who earned it. Everyone can join the queue when they contribute according to their means and abilities.

          • Mike Lucey

            Yep, those Solialists are fine ;-)

            If we get to that stage most will be survivalists until a new brand of hopefully sustainable ‘ists’ is figured out.

  15. DB4545

    Mike Lucey

    Yes prime minister isn’t too far off the mark.If people have major business experience prior to entering politics they can usually handle the mandarins.If they’re career politicians they may have ideals but they usually become sales reps for the permanent civil service.Where’s our T.K Whitaker when we need one?

    In relation to emergency planning it’s never any harm to have a personal plan B. Would you really have any confidence in the people we’ve elected in the event of a major national crisis? We have Herr Merkel and Frankie Hollande trying to dictate immigration quotas to sovereign States.The shock doctrine is about to start and despite being advised by wiser counsel we’re living in the united states of amnesia.

    Switzerland again has played the cutest game in Europe on immigration. They welcome immigrants providing the immigrants have lots of zeros behind the first number in their bank accounts.Even then if they cause the slightest problem for the Swiss authorities they are out the door.

    • McCawber

      And they get away with it.
      The Swiss must have something very important that everyone needs.
      By everyone, I don’t mean the great unwashed like ourselves.

      • DB4545

        McCawber

        They have. Silence and banking secrecy and they are completely unconcerned about being liked by other people. It doesn’t interest them in the slightest. Boring but no more so than Navan or Athy. Drove through from Lake Como to Lake Lugano yesterday. Italians buying petrol at border stations. Swiss buying groceries in Carrefour in Como.Could be Newry or Enniskillen.Some things never change on borders. Bored Italian finance police looking for big spenders. Bored Swiss border guards unconcerned with any traffic.

        I have a theory about drug smugglers caught in Switzerland. The Swiss detective makes the smuggler an offer he can’t refuse. “Please take your product and luggage on the next flight out of Switzerland”. Then he phones the Country that the smuggler has chosen and informs them. The smuggler is brought to justice but at no expense to the Swiss taxpayer.

        They don’t worry about refugees because nothing happens without the authorities knowing. Refugees don’t have any impact on employment for Swiss nationals. When that situation arises they deport them. Plenty of third world faces walking around Lugano but these are the ones carrying designer bags. The ones responsible for the misery of their fellow Citizens.

        Their fe?low Nationals are just bloated bodies floating in the Med and these people walk from the Casino to the designer shops by the lake totally unconcerned. Taxation in Switzerland runs in the range 5% to 15% with the super rich in the 5% bracket.Explain why ordinary taxpayers in the rest of Europe should pick up the bill for this mess?

        • Mike Lucey

          @McCawber

          I think you are right about the Swiss general attitude to world matters. However their wealth looks to have been built on what we in Ireland might call ‘cute hoorism’. They will be safe as long as the elite recognise and protect their ‘numbered bank account’ system.

          A possible ‘new money’ system (eg BC) could be the start of their decline. But again I wouldn’t ‘bank’ on it as they have ‘cute hoorism’ down to a fine art.

          Mike

  16. Mike Lucey

    David!

    Please have a look at this, ‘EU plans to destroy net neutrality by allowing Internet fast lanes’ here, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/06/eu-plans-to-destroy-net-neutrality-by-allowing-internet-fast-lanes/ otherwise we might find ourselves quickly shifted to the ‘slow lane’!

    It seems that this was tried in the US but did not succeed as ‘people power’ prevailed. I’m sending a protest note to our eleven MEPS http://www.europarl.ie/en/your_meps.html

    I am in two minds about sending a note to Big Phil as it appears he is in favour of ‘trickle’ services for protestors but it might be worth a shot.

    Mike

  17. http://usawatchdog.com/plunge-protection-team-losing-control-of-markets-jim-sinclair/

    “This is a pre-crash, and we are not making it through September without the real thing. Everybody is on credit. Main Street is on credit. This seems to be a bubble of historical proportion when it comes to the amount of money supporting the accepted lifestyles as being the new normal. Raising interest rates is impossible today. The market is so fragile. Nothing can come out that causes people any concern or derivatives any change, nothing whatsoever. We are going through a period of time where expecting nothing meaningful is a dream. These are times never experienced in financial history. . . .It is very possible that we are going to have a super civilization change. ” —–Sinclair

    “On gold, Sinclair says, “I didn’t call the top in gold in 1980 because of any kind of a system. I was told, I acted on what I was told.”

    His sources are talking again, and Sinclair says he was told: “Number one, the downside on gold is extraordinarily limited here. Two, the rally we are facing that will come in gold is going to be stupendous. Three, they tell me we may never call you back because this may be the rally you don’t sell.” –Greg Hunter

  18. https://www.goldmoney.com/research/analysis/economics-of-a-crash?gmrefcode=gata

    Brilliant synopsis of the monetary policy of the last 200 years and the pending results to soon be visited upon us all. Recommended reading.

  19. Mike Lucey

    Just spotted the following,
    ‘Convertible apartment increases living space by 70 percent’
    http://www.gizmag.com/rothelowman-convertible-spaces/39131/

    As can be seen innovative planning / design can make better use of small areas. To put it very simplistically, in the average house none of the living and sleeping zones are used for 8 hours, the living zone is used for 8 hours on average also the sleeping zone. ‘Convertible’ spaces provide the maximum space for the required activity time.

    This example is in OZ, noted the ‘bubble’ territory prices!

    Mike

    • Try living on a boat Mike. I spent 7 years on a 30″ sailboat. Plus moorage cost. 40′ would have given me entertainment space I lacked!!
      Totally mobile residence. Don’t like the neighbours??? sail off into the sunset!

      I also spent a year in a back garden shed of 10 x 150. surprising use of space and adaptability. There was a leanto on the side that took a bike and tools etc. I enjoyed it. It is not conducive to family life as it encourages the single lifestyle.

      • Mike Lucey

        That crossed my mind on many occasion. What I had in mind was a converted barge. As you probably know Ireland has a fantastic network of canals and lakes and the canals are being gradually cleaned up and made navigable again. It could be great tourism attraction in time.

        Check out this converted barge,
        http://www.homedsgn.com/2012/01/05/stunning-barge-conversion-in-stockholm/ One can dream!

        • Bamboo

          Yes, you must be dreaming.

        • DB4545

          Mike Lucey

          I did a little research not too long ago on houseboat/barge living and there are some terrific samples worldwide as you show. The waterway network could provide some solutions to housing and is a valuable resource.Waterways Ireland appear to have developed a monopoly/quango on the control of Irish rivers and waterways such as canals and there are serious difficulties in obtaining long term berths.I’d like to think they have our best interests at heart but I wouldn’t bank on it.

  20. Bamboo

    Dublin planning ideas are at least 20 years too late. Why is that?
    During the boom years, nationwide there was a once in a life opportunity to make a real difference in housing standards and town planning. Instead greed of the buyers, developers, banks and county councils took over.

    Now we are in a situation that young families are even more stupid than before. Young families should not accept the housing situation as it is now. Instead they stay at home and do nothing about it. At least if you’re smart and have the guts you get out of this place.

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