It takes up to three years to decide which builder gets a contract for public housing, according to a Dublin City Council expert.

Mark Bourke, the council's chief quantity surveyor, told a housing symposium that the procurement process takes up half the time of a construction project and needs to be streamlined.

Mr Bourke explained that overall it currently takes four to six years from the time a site is identified to when construction starts on a social housing project.

He said the use of Dynamic Purchasing Systems, which allows companies to join the bidding process at any time, and raising the financial threshold for projects to qualify for a single stage process were being looked at.

Mr Bourke also said that local authorities might be procrastinating by constantly checking if they are getting value for money rather than '"spending 5% more to get it done this year."

However he added "we can't go running off building ad hoc without any kind of checks".

The 'Cost Consideration When Providing Public Housing' symposium was organised by Dublin City Council.

John O'Connor CEO of the Housing Agency said "with all due respect to the legal profession" there can be too many solicitors involved making the process too complicated and bureaucratic.

He also said the procurement process can end up with getting a design team or contractor "you know you're not going to be happy with".

In the private sector you pick your design team and pick your contractor who you work with a lot, he said.  

Claire Solon of The Society of Chartered Surveyors said that the private sector is more streamlined and added "nobody is going to take you to court".