The expansion of the First Home Scheme to include self builds is urgently needed, a Fine Gael Senator said.
Fine Gael Housing Spokesperson, Senator John Cummins, said that prospective homeowners who are considering building their own homes should be afforded the same opportunities as other first-time buyers who can apply for the First Home Scheme.
Senator Cummins said: “In October 2022, Minister Darragh O’Brien committed to extending the First Home Scheme to Self Builds by the end of the year. Unfortunately, that timeline has passed, but I am aware that there are complexities involved.
“This is not as straightforward as a house purchase that has a fixed price. Self builds by their nature only have estimated costs at the outset, which can rise due to inflation as well as unexpected outlays. However, notwithstanding the logistics, time is of the essence now in getting this change implemented.
“The existing First Home Scheme provides an equity stake of up to 30% towards the cost of purchasing a new home; 20% if being combined with the Help to Buy scheme. I envisage the expansion of the scheme to self-build homes operating on the same basis with an equity based on the difference between the mortgage approval figure and the cost of the build.
“Having the dual support of the Help to Buy scheme and the option of the First Home Scheme available to those building their first home would be a significant measure. Since its introduction, the Help to Buy Scheme has assisted 41,794 individuals and families to get four years of their tax back, up to a maximum of €30,000 towards their deposit. Of these, 10,610 (25%) were for self builds.
“It is clear to me from my interaction with many young people who are in the process of building their own homes, particularly in rural Ireland, that inflationary pressures have meant they now have a shortfall between their mortgage approval figure and the revised costs of their project.
“The First Home Scheme can fill that void and give a lifeline of support to kickstart projects that already have planning permission in place. We need self builds included in the scheme as a matter of urgency,” Senator Cummins concluded.