House construction nationally is up 132% for the first four months of this year compared with the same period in 2013.

The details of the huge increase in the number of people starting to build houses come from the National Housing Construction Index.

The index gathers information from local authorities on planning applications and commencement notices posted with local authorities.

A commencement notice is a statutory requirement that has to be lodged with a local authority before a building project begins.

Building work has to begin within 14 to 28 days of the lodgement of the commencement order.

The details are published on the Link 2 Plans website, which lists every planning application at every stage in the country.

Managing Director of Link 2 Plans Danny O'Shea told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that planning applications are up 19% on the same time last year and commencements are up 132% year-on-year nationally.

In Westmeath alone there has been a 538% increase in commencement notices compared to the same time last year, albeit from a very low base.

Mr O'Shea said his company spotted a definite upward trend in the last four months of 2013 and they anticipated an increase in the first few months of this year.

The rise is due in part to "pent-up demand" and increased economic confidence but the main push is probably due to the change in building regulations that came into effect from 1 March, according to Mr O'Shea.

The building regulations added some extra costs to projects and require more oversight and sign-off by professionals.

Mr O'Shea said that the regulatory change has had a "considerable if not seismic effect" on housing construction activity, greater than any change in the Budget in October.