As we start 2021, we are operating in a Covid-19 world. We wanted to share some of our thoughts on the Irish Construction industry and where we see it going this year.
While we know that the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Irish construction industry will take time to emerge, it is already clear that it has had a wide-reaching impact both locally and nationally.
We also have Brexit to take into consideration, courtesy of our friends across the pond. We are already seeing new shipping routes open to counteract the expected delays in materials coming through the UK, like the Rosslare to Dunkirk shipping route.
Forecasting what is to come in 2021 largely depends on the speed of vaccinations. The budget delivered by the Irish Government was based on no wide availability of a vaccine and no trade deal between Ireland and the UK. So we don’t have anything concrete to go on and has left a lot of uncertainty in the Irish construction industry.
While a Brexit deal has been done, there is still some refining to the structure needed. We’ve seen that the new paperwork is overwhelming ports in Northern Ireland and the UK. This is causing delays to materials entering with knock-on supply chain pressures for Irish projects. While that might be sustainable during this current lockdown period, it is not sustainable long term.
We anticipate that Brexit will continue to pose a significant risk to the construction industry by causing significant supply chain pressures, in addition to Covid.
Covid has had a significant impact on the Irish construction industry. The closure of construction sites in early April to mid-May put a strain on projects across the country and had a knock-on effect to main contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. We saw great support to the construction industry by CIF with the Covid-19 induction programme, which helped not only support people in their role in construction but also got projects up and running promptly.
Increased health and safety requirements were already extensive on Irish construction sites. The additional PPE and Covid related costs will reduce the profitability of projects.
The latest lockdown will put new pressure on the Irish construction industry, with the closure of all construction sites with the exemption of essential health projects, critical transport, utility infrastructure, some local housing projects and almost completed homes. However, we are unsure of how long this new closure will last, creating a lot of uncertainty within the construction industry.
There will, of course, be impacts on the local communities and national economy. Until we see a rollout of the vaccine across the country, we believe that we will see the country go in and out of lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19.