Builders likely to face Covid-19 curbs for rest of year, construction report warns

Turner & Townsend says pandemic restrictions delayed projects and cut productivity

Builders are likely to face ongoing Covid-19 curbs for at least the rest of this year, a new report on construction warns.

More than 14,000 workers are due to return to house building from April 12th under Government plans for a partial easing of the current lock down.

Quantity surveyors and project managers, Turner & Townsend, predict in a report published on Tuesday that curbs on the industry could continue for the rest of the year.

"Unfortunately, even with the current vaccination programme for Ireland in place, it is likely that construction sites will operate under the current Covid-19 restrictions for the remainder of 2021 at a minimum," the firm says.


The report's author, Mark Kelly, Turner & Townsend Ireland managing director, explained that as construction restarts, social-distancing and other restrictions that applied for much of last year, could remain.

This slowed the rate at which buildings were finished, as it cut the number of people who could work on any aspect of a project at any one time.

“For example, on a bathroom, you would have a plumber, electrician and a tiler all working around each other towards the end of the job, but with the restrictions in place, you can’t have that,” Mr Kelly said.

Turner & Townsend’s Republic of Ireland Market Intelligence Survey, Spring 2021, warns that ongoing restrictions mean that builders and their clients must continue to cope with delays and reduced productivity for the remainder of 2021.

Final quarter delays

Three out of four builders surveyed by the firm reported that restrictions delayed work by several weeks in the final three months of last year.

According to the report, 37.5 per cent of contractors calculated that restrictions added three to four weeks to each project, while a similar number said delays were between one and two weeks.

Lead-in time also lengthened as restrictions hit material suppliers, holding up the start of work on buildings by one to two weeks in one third of cases and three to four weeks for 22 per cent of contractors.

Turner & Townsend estimates that construction will begin to recover more fully towards the end of this year.

Building stopped on most sites across the State in April last year but reopened with restrictions at the end of May.

Construction has been locked down along with many other industries so far this year, but the Government said this week that house building, which employs 14,400 people, could return on April 12th.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas