There's a warning that Ireland is "nowhere near" meeting the demand for housing.
A new report from the Think Tank for Action on Social Change (TASC) with the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) suggests the construction industry could be unable to meet pent-up demand even when fully reopened.
It says the construction sector was recovering from the last downturn, but the pandemic has "thrown a spanner in the works".
The report says the industry is still facing issues around productivity, labour shortages and job stability.
It also argues that the Government needs to prioritise addressing a "boom-bust cycle" affecting construction.
The study's lead author Dr Robert Sweeney told The Pat Kenny Show said construction levels have been at around historical averages in recent years, but that's not enough.
He said: "In 2019, we had around 21,000 units built - that fell only a little bit in 2020. It’s expected that’s going to fall again in 2021, and the fall probably will be larger than what happened in 2020.
“There was very large under-investment in the post-crisis years, so when the economy crashed around 2011… you had very little building going on.
"There is a backlog of demand for housing - we actually need to go beyond what our historical level of building is in order to meet demand.”
Based on the current trajectory, Dr Sweeney believes Ireland is "nowhere near" meeting the current demand.
However, he said there are differences to the current situation compared to the economic downturn of the late 2000s and early 2010s.
He said he'd be surprised to see "an exodus of workers" this time around, as people have few options to emigrate during the current global crisis.
He observed: “I don’t think we have a property bubble like what we had in the 2000s, but we haven’t addressed the high levels of volatility in the construction market.
“Now we have a big run-up in house prices, especially up until 2018-19. It’s a little bit different to what we had in the 2010s, when we had way too much building.
He said one key thing the Government could do to address the issue is to invest in public housing, as ideally "the State would step in rather than step back" during a crisis or downturn.
It comes amid warnings that declining rates of home-ownership will have knock-on effects for the State as people get older.