New data shows that the total activity at Irish construction firms fell slightly during December and that new orders rose - suggesting a stabilisation of the sector at the end of 2011.
The December Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) rose to its highest level in over four and a half years.
This sparked a rise in positive sentiment in the industry for the second consecutive month, and was the highest since August.
The results also point to a slight increase in housing activity last month - the first time the survey has pointed to a rise since October 2006.
However, buying and employment both continued to fall during the month - and a number of firms reported that business conditions remained fragile.
"The latest reading of the Ulster Bank construction PMIs for December is telling us that there was really a negligible activity last month, " said Simon Barry, Chief Economist at Ulster Bank.
"And after a four-and-a-half year slump in activity I think that is good news.
"However I think it probably would be wrong at this stage to conclude that a strong recovery is imminent.
"The construction sector continues to face difficulties - however we are seeing some indications now that the slump in activity is … at least approaching its end," said Mr Barry.