Page 1





NAMA and Gov Billions

- Sounds Great but what can you expect in real terms

- Paul Mitchell Davis Langdon, an AECOM company


< < < <



CMG Awards Plan DPS 091111.qxd:Layout 1



Page 2

& Design Awards 201

Bursting Bubbles

Talk a stroll down Grafton Street and you are sure to see this street entertainer chap blowing these enormous bubbles from a giant bubble wand. People and kids stand around waiting for the big bubble to burst and when it finally pops, up go the cheers; kids are happy, coins are deposited into caps and the crowd shuffles on it way amused.

You just can't pay it," he proclaims. Now he is getting into his stride. “I predict the IMF, the European Union and the ECB - the Troika - will ultimately forgive Ireland's debt.” The economic maestro rallies and polishes off the performance with the declaration that the Government's austerity plans will eventually be abandoned because they won't work. "Austerity in a weak economy is like putting an anorexic on McQuillan Architects ■ Fehily Timoney & Keep that image, now picture ■that other well known a diet and expecting her to get strong. It simply doesn't ‘entertainer’ and economist David McWilliams work," Dalkey’s finest maintains. ■ Robin standing Lee Architecture ■ Healy Kelly Turne there on Grafton Street waving a ■big bubble maker in his Winkens Architecture Sponsored by hand. Instead of the washing up liquid bubbles bursting, he Amen to that. There is plenty more food for thought inside ■ Joe Fallon Design is talking about housing bubbles, property bubbles and debt this issue of Irish Construction Industry Magazine when it bubbles. comes to budgets, bubbles, stimuli packages, NAMA, Sponsored by investment strategies, property markets and the future Like a town crier, he works the crowd, hoping to bring some prospects for the Irish construction sector. If that’s not early Christmas cheer? “The same way housing bubbles enough for you, the aforementioned economist has a book burst,” he tells the gathering, “a debt bubble will burst too. out just in time for Christmas.

Architectural Practice of the Year

Construction C Management

Award for Sus Construction 2


Michael Hayes

■ ■ ■

Contractor of the Year & Design Awards 2011

Stewart Robin Lee Archite Taylor Architects i


■ ■ ■

Architectural Practice ■ of the Year ■ ■ ■ ■

McQuillan Architects Robin Lee Architecture Winkens Architecture Joe Fallon Design Sponsored by

Sponsored by

Stewart Bam Contractors Irish Construction Industry Magazine Sammon Contracting Ltd Publisher: MCD Media Ltd. Construction Kilcawley Construction Consultant/Project Managing Editor: Michael McDonnell

Management Firm of the Year

Editor: Michael Hayes

Sponsored by■

Fehily Timoney & Company Healy Kelly Turner & Townsend Ltd.

Subscriptions & Circulation, Accounts/Administration: Linda Doran ■

Production & Design: Catherine Kelleher Sponsored by

Published under License from

Commercial Media Group

Engineering P the Year Awar

CapCon Engineer Atkins ■ be reproduced Fehily Timoney & © 2012. No part of this publication may ■ ■

SpecialistAward Contractor of the Year for Sustainable

Irish Construction Industry Magazine is & circulated to: Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Developers, Contractors, Engineers, Suppliers, Manufacturers and ■ Distributors, Members of the National ■ Prefabrication Builders Association (UK), Ireland’s Top 100 Construction Companies■ (as compiled by Irish Construction Industry Magazine), county managers in Ireland’s corporations and county councils, ■ Stewart Government departments and UK building ■ Bam Contractors contractors, quantity surveyors and ■ Sammon Contracting Ltd engineering practices.

Contractor of the Year

Kilcawley Construction

Sponsored by

without the written permission of the publishers. The views and opinions contained in this magazine are not necessarily Sponsored by those of the publishers. The publishers do not accept responsibility for accuracy, errors or omissions in articles or Suite 8, Sky Business Centre, advertisements, or for unsolicited reports or photographs. ■ Stewart 57 Clontarf Road, Reference in this publication to commercial products, ■ Robin Lee Architecture process or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, Dublin 3. ■ Taylor Architects in association with RMJM or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its Tel: 01 8537813 Mobile: 087 4184353 endorsement, recommendation, or favouring by Irish Construction Industry Magazine. The views and opinions of Sponsored by Sponsored by authors and contributors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of Irish Construction Industry Magazine nor does it assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of the information contained or submitted.

MCDConstruction Media Ltd. CapCon Engineering Ltd 2011 Micéal Sammon Woodcraft Safeguard Systems

Renewable En

Engineering Practice of

■ ■

Fehily Timoney &

Panel products che cklist ® FSC certified CE and EUTR compliant no need to prime zero added formal dehyde cheaper than alter natives structurally approve d SiteProtect The Sm art OSB answer fo r Site Hoarding

SiteProtect Plus The Smart

OSB answer for pr emium hoarding applications in high profile locat ions.


The Smart multi pu rpose OSB answer for a variety of bu ilding applications.


Problem solved If you want to build smart, you’ve got to think smart. To find better quality and better value, you’ve got to look beyond the obvious. That’s why the smart money goes on SmartPly. SmartPly doesn’t delaminate and has no knotholes, core voids or other structural defects and is less expensive than plywood. It’s bonded with exterior glue and is ideal for flooring, roofing, wall sheathings, site hoardings and lots of other general building uses. For more information or a free product sample please visit or call 00 353 51 832700.



34 14


Cover Story

Industry Analysis – The Irish construction industry is still falling but at a slower rate, maintains Paul Mitchell, Director of Davis Langdon, an AECOM company, but the combination of stimulus and investment packages from Government and NAMA offer real hope of growth 6


Central Intelligence – Price undercutting and stiff competition are considered to be the largest obstacles to doing business in Poland in the construction industry faced by contractors

Success Spotlight – As a family run business with over a decade, Smet Building Products is passionate about delivering the leading names in building products direct from Europe to Ireland and the UK




Industry Investment – As part of its Stimulus packages, the Government has announced that they are looking for ways in which the pre-construction stages of investment can be speeded up, explains Dr Peter Stafford of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

40 BRICS – You have identified a great opportunity in Brazil, Russia, India, China or South Africa, but what are the key tax considerations for Investing in these economies. Ronan McNicholas of PwC offers 30 some advice on the matter Overseas Opportunities – Canada is experiencing significant labour shortages in skilled trades across all industries where the combination of an aging workforce and large scale infrastructural investment is leading to a drive for skilled workers 34 from abroad


Industry Performance – A further decline in activity was recorded in the Irish construction sector in September as new business continued to decrease, according to the latest Ulster Bank 21 Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index Planning – Active Town Centre Management and an appropriate diversity of uses based on sound planning principles can transform town and city centres into high quality, healthy places, 22 according to IPI President Joanna Kelly UK Construction – The UK housing market should see a slightly stronger end to the year with transaction levels expected to pick 27 up and price falls predicted to slow

Legal Focus – Pay when paid or pay when certified clauses make payment of the subcontractor, by the main contractor, conditional upon payment by the employer and/or certification 36 under the main contract in respect of the sub-contract work European Investment Trends – Efficient, flexible working environments, public transport networks and ‘green’ buildings are amongst the key drivers of investment attraction in Europe’s key cities, maintains the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) 38 Property Report – Standards and regulations have continued to evolve and are resulting in buildings which are outdated becoming redundant unless refurbished, writes Bill Nowlan, 40 Managing Director of WK Nowlan Associates

Enjoy highly convenient and powerful power-cutting.

We’re a world leader in handheld power cutters and diamond tools. The range includes MBQOLI EVAO>RIF@ MKBRJ>QF@>KABIB@QOF@>IJ>@EFKBP 1EFPJB>KPVLR@>K>IT>VPªKAQEB perfect machine and tool for every job. So that you can work with great precision, less BCCLOQ>KA?BOB>IIVBCª@FBKQ  New Active Air Filtration™


A unique air filtration system consisting of three separate filters that increase the service life of the engine and reduces downtime and service costs. One of the most efficient systems on the market, delivering operational times (for dry cutting) of up to one year, with no filter service required.

DEX is a dust management system for wet and dry cutting. Most of our other power cutters have a water saving wet cutting kit, which efficiently binds dust with less water usage and slurry, compared to traditional wet cutting.


Fine-tuned ergonomics

A unique engine technology that increases power and reduces fuel consumption by up to 20 % and exhaust emissions by up to 75 %. The secret behind this unique engine technology is that it uses dual flushing ducts: one for clean air and one for the fuel and air mixture.

Compact design, low weight and correctly positioned handles make our machines easier to handle. Also, our anti-vibration system in the handles provides a more convenient handling during long shifts.

K 3000 Vac

S 1200 Diagrip™ series

A powerful electric cutter for both indoor and outdoor use. It has a vacuum unit that provides superior dust collection. Unlike other electric cutters, the blade on the K 3000 Vac rotates forward, cutting into the material efficiently and with a minimum of strain on the operator.

A new series of diamond blades that feature our unique Diagrip™ technology as well as other technical solutions for efficient operation, even in heavily reinforced concrete. The blades provide smooth, trouble-free and stable cutting without any vibrations – at a 20–30 % higher speed.

HUSQVARNA CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS Liffey Distributors Ltd, 309 Northwest Business Park, Ballycoolin, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 Ph. +353 (0)1 824 2600 Email Find us on Facebook and Twitter under ‘Husqvarna Ireland’

Stimulating Times Ahead for Irish Construction The Irish construction industry is still falling but at a slower rate, maintains Paul Mitchell, Director of Davis Langdon, an AECOM company. The industry is down 9 per cent this year with a predicted output of € 7.75 billion for 2012 “This is on a 27 per cent fall in 2011 and way short of the €15b target or 12 per cent of GNP set for this year. I would describe tender prices as erratic and 6

referring back to our annual review, we talked about a 3 per cent increase in prices on average this year. We have also noted a five to 40 per cent difference in contractor

tender prices for certain projects. We have seen prices fall back to early 2000 levels and this is against a backdrop of increasing input costs. Another downside headline is Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Industry Outlook the fact that public spending is down 18 per cent in 2012, reduced from €4.7 to €3.4 billion and housing output is down to single units at this stage. “But on the upside, there is the good news is the shape of NAMA’s announcement of a €2 billion budget over four years. Not to be outshone, the Government’s own €2.25 billion stimulus package is also most welcome news,” says Mitchell.

NAMA is talking about €2b over 4 years from 2013 and they have been clear about where they are targeting it

“Delving into conjecture for a moment, let us imagine that if our industry was capable of increasing output 10 per cent year-on-year, what does that look like for the construction sector? Well, we would be looking at 30 primary schools and 15 secondary schools; 10 extra third level buildings; two mental health facilities and four hospital ward blocks. We would be looking at 30 housing estate workouts; and one new Children’s hospital. One very large foreign direct investment project; a new office block; the central bank move; a major investment by say Intel and 20 of the small FDI fit-outs. That’s 10 per cent in pure construction terms. You could argue that we could achieve the 10 per cent if we have 5 per cent tender inflation in the morning. Is it achievable? I would say probably yes. “There are projects out there at various stages of procurement and in the public domain at different decision making stages; but they are not shovel ready. The question is can we respond to the demands of these new packages. We were able to respond to a €38 billion output, so I think we can respond to a €8 or €9 billion one. “Looking at construction jobs and employment and their relationship with construction output, a CIC report conducted a couple of years ago said that for every €100K spent it would produce one year of employment for a worker. The Government’s says that its €2.25 billion 8

with get them 13,000 jobs while NAMA’s programme could lead to 20,000 jobs, if you include direct and indirect labour. I have used an average of €80K per person and that gets us to 20,000 new employees by 2015, encouraging by all accounts. “Good news too in that NAMA is clear about where it is targeting its €2b over 4 years from 2013. It is targeting the major centres: Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and the Dublin Commuter Belt as well as

the commercial and residential sectors. Critically here, the funding is recyclable, meaning that if they put €5 million into an apartment block to finish it off and they go onto sell those 50 units, that money comes back into the NAMA coffers to fund construction work – replenishing the finds so to speak. They have stated that one hundred per cent of the budget will go into construction, so it won’t go get diluted by buying sites or this or that asset - it is down to pure construction. NAMA has also said

that it won’t be limited to €500 per annum for 4 years; if there is a demand for developments out there, that they will go ahead and fund them. Turning for a moment to some specifics within the Government’s stimulus package announced in July. The proposed projects that they have mentioned include 2 school bundles, stage one of Grangegorman, a new Garda Divisional Headquarters, Justice Courthouse refurbishments; a State Pathology Lab; Primary Care Bundles; and the N17, N11, N25, Galway City Bypass and N18 road projects. Looking at the €17b public capital programme announced back in Nov 2011, the Government committed €3.9b in 2012 which is 14 per cent reduction and a consistent output from 2013 to 2016. Yet some 57 per cent of the public capital programme is yet to be spent this year. We have spent €1.9b in nine months, with €2.2b remaining to be spent in the last three months of 2012, in a typical rush fashion. For an industry that is seen to be on its knees, that expenditure would have been better released earlier rather than a frantic manner. “Looking further afield, what other mechanisms are out there that could help our industry? What can the European Investment Bank do? The EIB’s lending in Ireland is €12b in nearly 300 projects, focusing on transport, energy, and the knowledge economy. In Ireland they have funded projects to the tune of €2.7b in the

Irish Construction Industry Magazine

05'3(#%+0) 8+5* 5*' %6451/'3 4'37+%' 5'#/ #5 8+-(13/ #..18'& 64 51 5#-' #&7#05#)' 1( +54 $3#0%* 0'5813- #0& #$+.+59 51 &'.+7'3 51 4+5' 10 # :,645 +0 5+/'; $#4+4 5'7'0 10'4

135*/#&1) $92#44


#.(163 '#559

10'4 314 +7+. 0)+0''3+0)


*' 135*/#&1) +0((13&& #0& 3'/#&1) 92#44 # -/ 581 .#0' $92#44 +0%.6&+0) '+)*5 $3+&)' 4536%563'4 8+5* %6.7'354 +4 %633'05.9 $'+0) %104536%5'& $9 # #.(163 '#559 10'4 314 +7+. 0)+0''3+0) ,1+05 7'0563'

#.. 64 018 10

"+5* # 5+)*5 231)3#//' 51 &'.+7'3 5*' 515#. 231,'%5 +0 ,645 /105*4 5*' 4'.'%5+10 1( 231&6%54 51 4622135 %104536%5+10 1( 5*' 45''. $'#/ %1/214+5' $3+&)'4 8#4 %3+5+%#. *' 23'('33'& 41.65+10 8#4 8+-(13/;4 #3#4.+/ %1/214+5' $3+&)' (#.4'813-

13 7+4+5 64 #5


317'0 /1&6.#3 4945'/ '3'%5'& #0& &+4/#05.'& (31/ #$17' 51 3'&6%' 813- #5 *'+)*5

< < <

7#+.#$.' (13 &'.+7'39 23'#44'/$.'& 51 3'&6%' 4+5' /#-' 62 5+/' 42#%' #0& %145 6..9 %'35+(+'& #&,645#$.' (1.&+0) *11- #7#+.#$.' (13 &+4/#05.' 2*#4' 1&6.#3 .53#)6#3& /'4* '&)' 2315'%5+10 1( (6..9 $1#3&'& *1#3&+0)

888 3/&-8+-(13/ %1/ +' 888 3/&-8+-(13/ 57 888 3/&-#%%'4413+'4 +' 7#+.#$.' (13 4#.' #0& *+3'

Industry Outlook last 5 years, with energy transport right up there. We reckon the EIB will have signed and approved around €500m in funding by the end of 2012; the EIB funds up to 50 per cent of the project total cost. “Another interesting mechanism is the REIT. They were launched in the UK in 2007 and today there are over 25 REIT operators with a total market cap of £25b. REITs are tied to investments rather than developments and must distribute 90 per cent of their taxable income in the form of an annual dividend, therefore avoiding corporation tax. It’s like individuals trading properties instead of shares. What would the benefit be to the Irish construction industry? There are a number of positives: REITs could attract funds to the Irish property market; introduce liquidity to the investment market; and offer a chance for the smaller investors to invest in a diversified large scale commercial property. Are REITs likely to happen in Ireland? It was in the Fine Gael Manifesto in 2011 and it is understood that legislation is going through Government. NAMA have stated openly that it would welcome the introduction of REITs. I am sure that domestic investors would want to get involved. Hopefully budget 2013 will lead the way on that. “These can be seen as positive moves, but we still can’t ignore the negatives facing the construction sector? Public procurement remains complex, costly and time consuming exacerbated by public recruitment embargoes. We are still seeing abnormally low tenders and public bodies are still accepting them. There are also disputes out there, linked to abnormally low tenders. You could say that there is a moral responsibility on all construction parties not to bid low; and on public sector bodies not to accept the price and consultants not to recommend the price in the first place. “The PPP model and cancellations is another challenge. There were a number of high profile projects on which bidders spent serious money on and were cancelled. That is going to hurt the industry going forward. Also, Circular 1010 is not working, forcing public bodies to go out for procurement for anything ‘over ten pencils’; public procedure procedures are slowing things down on public side and something that we are seeing now as we act for NAMA, banks or receivers is 10

Performance and Infrastructure Bonds on incomplete developments that we are trying to get finished - it is extremely difficult to deal with. “There is the issue of Building Regulations and compliance. We are all aware of Priory Hall and I believe that it is the tip of the iceberg in relation to apartment developments and fire safety. What’s more, we have seen a lot worse cases since Priory Hall and it isn’t a good sign for our industry. True there are a lot of working groups, but we can expect to see more of this issue over the next 12 months.” “Looking to the future. There is the problem of graduates and apprentices

coming down the pipeline. A number of colleges are now axing their quantity surveying courses. We are seeing less than ten graduates coming out of the colleges, whereas it used to around the 80 mark in healthier times. Our skilled people are having to leave Ireland and this must be one of the saddest characteristics of the 2012 construction industry. Paul Mitchell is Head of Office, Ireland, and a director of Davis Langdon, an AECOM company. Paul was speaking recently at the National Construction Conference 2012, organised by CMG Events.

Irish Construction Industry Magazine

PLASTERBOARD IS MOVING FORWARD Insightful, Pioneering, Partnering... Greater Potential

Siniat is the new name for Lafarge Plasterboard. Our name change reflects the ethos and focus set by our new parent group, as well as the potential to provide even better, more sustainable systems and solutions. BUT TO ALL OUR CUSTOMERS, NOTHING ELSE HAS CHANGED: • GTEC remains at the heart of our offer • Our experience and expertise in drywall and drylining solutions, we believe, remain unrivalled • Our contacts for sales, design and technical advice have not altered

To download or view our New Drywall Manual or for more information, please visit:





rice undercutting and stiff competition are considered to be the largest obstacles to doing business in the construction industry faced by contractors. On the other hand, operating in the market is helped by good business contacts, hiring skilled and loyal staff and solid credentials. The results of a survey of high-level professionals from the management and operating divisions of 200 largest Polish construction companies, which was conducted for the purpose of the report “Construction sector in Poland H2 2012 – Development forecasts for 2012-2015”, reveal a wide range of significant changes in how the major market players perceive the market situation. In the survey, respondents were asked a number of questions, for example regarding the key barriers to doing business in the construction market. In the most recent issue of the survey, the key barrier to doing business in the construction market in Poland, as identified by respondents, was price undercutting by other market players. This obstacle was mentioned by 63% of

administration, i.e. difficult access to investment loans (10% in September 2011; 22% in September 2012), difficulties

companies mentioned maintaining and building good relationships with business partners, as indicated by 44% of respondents (57% in September 2011). Contractors operating in the construction sector appreciate the value of skilled and loyal staff as a factor facilitating doing business (55% in September 2011; 38% in September 2012). Likewise, 38% of respondents mentioned good references in the most recent survey, compared to 18% of interviewees who gave this answer a year ago. Therefore, good references have substantially risen in significance over the past year in the opinion of construction companies. For more visit

respondents, compared to 66% in September 2011. Strong competition within the sector was indicated by half of respondents, while 55% of the companies mentioned this barrier in September 2011. Payment backlogs were named the third most important barrier to doing business. This category was indicated by 34% of respondents in the September 2012 survey, while 28% of them mentioned it a year ago. Factors which registered substantial variations in the proportion of respondents who mentioned them between this year’s survey and the one of September 2011 included factors related to the conservative approach of banks and inefficient state 12

arranging official formalities (7% in September 2011; 15% in September 2012), high taxes (2% in September 2011; 8% in September 2012). Unstable law was mentioned by 8% of respondents in September 2011 and 15% in the most recent survey. Other factors impeding construction companies’ operations, as indicated by respondents, included the Public Procurement Law, which is considered by respondents to be a failing law. We also asked respondents about factors facilitating doing business in the construction industry in Poland. The largest proportion of the interviewed Irish Construction Industry Magazine

LIGHTWEIGHT FLOOR SCREED Screed eed is Europe’s Europe’s only lightweight factory LiteFlo® Alpha Hemihydrate Scr produced, screed eed material based on calcium sulphate. pr oduced, pumpable, high-quality scr It is supplied to site in pr pre-mixed e-mixed bags or site silos and installed by certified partners. LiteFlo® is designed for application at thicknesses of between 20 and 90 mm. LiteFlo® complies with EN 13813: 2002 and is CE marked.

bringing eur european opean innovation

s s s s s s s s s s

Lightweight - 43kg per m2 @ 40mm thickness Ideal for application over timber suspended floors in new build and renovations 30% weight reduction compared to normal CA screed Smooth laitance free finish Pump applied Under floor heating – full encapsulation Suitable for underlayment in wet areas Reduced drying times Full after sales services, including moisture testing EN 13813: 2002

Smet Building Products Products Ltd - 28 Castleowen - Newry - Co. Down - BT34 1GF - Northern Ireland T: +44 (0) 28 3082 5970 - F: +44 (0) 28 3025 2777 - E: -

Construction Economics

Investment without monitoring will undermine its potential

In March, the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan told the Fine Gael ard fheis: “It is vital that we generate activity in the construction sector, which has been blighted by such a sizeable fall in activity right across the country.”


ccording to Dr Peter Stafford, Director of Policy & Public Affairs Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, his chosen mechanism for doing so was revealed in July – a €2.55bn infrastructural investment plan, with the aim of creating jobs and promoting activity amongst construction firms.


The reasons for investing so heavily in construction activity are clear. The value of construction output will be €7.5 billion in 2012, down from €8.7 billion in 2011 and from €39 billion at the peak of the boom. The value of construction activity will fall to 6% of GNP this year and fall further to 5.6% of GNP next year – less than half the

“normal” level for economy the size of Ireland. Peter Stafford maintains that employment in construction and allied industries is now at 150,000, a dramatic fall from the 380,000 employed at the peak. Construction of new dwellings plunges to an all time low of 5,000 units this year from around 88,000 at the peak. Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Construction Economics “Therefore” continues Peter Stafford, “the Government’s recent announcement of a €2.2bn stimulus package has been largely welcomed, not least for its recognition that investment in public buildings and infrastructure can have an immediate impact on preserving jobs and – during the course of the design, procurement and construction stages of development – give much needed work to companies both within the sector and outside. In total, the Government estimates that by investing around €2.2 billion, 13,000 jobs could be sustained with some of these jobs being created within the next few months, and the remainder in 2014 as projects reach construction stage. “Private investment is likely to come from the National Pension Reserve Fund, the European Investment Bank, Irish banks and other sources of private funding, potentially including private pension funds in Ireland. This reflects the Society’s previous recommendation regarding the investment of private pension funds in public infrastructure. A second source of income will be the sale of state assets, a process which was begun with the McCarthy Report a number of years ago. Of the € 850m which will be raised from this process and the licensing of the National Lottery, € 350m will be invested in PPPs. “In a period of very difficult public finances, it has always been important that project financing is not made available simply for its own end; rather, it has long been the aim of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland and other commentators that public investment should be targeted in sectors and regions where it will lead to improved stock of public infrastructure and a better built environment. While the Value for Money audits and other evaluations may be cumbersome, the Government has announced that they are looking for ways in which the pre-construction stages of investment can be speeded up, so that work can commence as quickly as possible.” In terms of monitoring the impact of investment, Peter Stafford says that a high-level steering group will oversee the

sectoral and geographical spread, so that investment takes place where it is needed. Evidence from the USA shows that Barack


Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 has had very mixed results, and that poor investment strategy without proper governance and oversight has limited the real impact of what could have been achieved. It is disappointing to read some of the more negative results of Obama’s infrastructural investment strategy, especially as his rhetoric sounded so welcome to the ears of the Irish construction sector $47 billion for transportation projects, including $27 billion for highway and bridge construction and repair and $12 billion for mass transit, including $7.5 billion to buy transit equipment such as buses; and $31 billion to build and repair federal buildings and other public infrastructures. “Opinion has been split regarding the impact of this investment. Some economists believed that the

The Government has announced that they are looking for ways in which the pre-construction stages of investment can be speeded up, so that work can commence as quickly as possible

investment level was too small and that its impact would be negated by the deteriorating macro-economy. Others worried that investment would be dictated by political expediency rather than on a needs-assessment basis. Again, something familiar to Irish ears,” says Stafford. “The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland has been championing the creation of a Chief Construction Advisor, one of whose roles would be to assess where investment could have its greatest positive impact, to lead the monitoring of the impact of investment, and ensure the wider aims of the increased investment is achieved. By 2014, private sector construction activity may start to re-grow, especially for FDI clients and through the energy retrofitting of private commercial buildings. If this stimulus package is invested carefully and sequenced properly thereby avoiding some of the mistakes from the US stimulus package, it should maintain the viability of many valuable construction firms until better market conditions emerge. If its implementation is not carefully monitored, its impact could be very disappointing for a sector which desperately needs support,” states Peter Stafford. Article written by Dr Peter Stafford, Director of Policy & Public Affairs Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland Irish Construction Industry Magazine


Kirby Group through our Power T & D division, is the leading turnkey balance of plant contractor to the renewable sector providing design, engineering, procurement, construction, commissioning and maintenance services

Industry Analysis

Budget needs construction measures Building and construction output is down by 3.2% in the second Quarter of 2012, according to the latest report by the Central Statistics Office


he volume of output in building and construction was 3.2% lower in the second quarter of 2012 when compared with the preceding period. This reflects decreases of 7.2% and 6.9% respectively in the volume of residential and non-residential building, while the volume of output in civil engineering increased by 6.7%. The change in the value of production for all building and construction was -2.9%. On an annual basis, the volume of output in building and construction decreased by 8.2% in the second quarter of 2012. The value of production decreased by 7.1% in the same period. The annual fall in the volume of output reflects year-on-year declines of 17.2% and 15.8% respectively in residential building work and non-residential building work. Output in civil engineering increased by 9.8%.

The Government needs to bring forward measures in this year’s Budget to boost the construction sector if the continuing decline in construction output is to be halted, according to the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). “The Government has acknowledged that the economy needs a working, healthy construction sector but clearly activity is still falling as the latest CSO statistics show,” said CIF Director General, Tom Parlon. “If you were to extrapolate the figures for the first half of this year and apply them to the remainder of the year, then the CIF estimates that the total construction output in Ireland will be approximately €8.4 billion for 2012. That would represent a drop of €30 billion when compared to 2006 when the value of construction activity was €38.63 billion.”

Quarter 2 2012 (First Estimates) Quarter 1 2012 (Final Figures)


Seasonally Adjusted Production in Building and Construction Index (Base: Year 2005=100)

Q2 2011 Q1 2012 Q2 2012

Quarterly % change Annual % change

Volume Index

Value Index

-3.2% -8.2%

-2.9% -7.1%

23.1 21.9 21.2

25.4 24.3 23.6

“The one positive from the CSO figures was that the level of civil engineering activity has increased by 9.8% on an annual basis. The Government should be congratulated for increasing this area of activity. The stimulus package should help increase activity in this sector further when work comes to fruition. However with the Government having announced in November 2011 that the 2013 Budget would see a further reduction of €550 million in capital spending, something will need to be done if the Government hopes to address the gap in civil engineering activity between now and rollout of the stimulus package.” “The statistics once more detail the continuing decline in residential building activity, falling to an index score of 8.6 in the second quarter. The CIF estimates that 7,500 – 8,000 new housing units will be built in Ireland this year. Considering that the 10,480 units built in 2011 marked the lowest level since the records began you can see why the Government is continuing to see a downturn in the amount of tax revenue generated through the residential property market. “If the Government does wish to get the sector going and see more positive figures in the CSO statistics then they will need to bring forward some measures to promote the sector in the forthcoming Budget,” Tom Parlon maintains.



types of safety railings HGWXEXODUÃ&#x20AC;WWLQJVIRU

nts ensuring DDA QGUDLOV omponents forIRISH safeDISTRIBUTOR ty EXCLUSIVE FOR


KLAMP TUV certified fittings for barrier solutions ACCESS Components compliant with DDA requirements for handrails GUARD Free Standing roof edge protection DOME Free standing rooflight protection guard rail



Established 1973 Celebrating 40 years of Manufacturing Fences, Gates and Railings in Ireland.



Branches at Dublin - Head Office Cork Newry Draperstown/Magherafelt


Further reduction in activity as new orders decline

Industry Performance

A further decline in activity was recorded in the Irish construction sector in September as new business continued to decrease. Falling workloads also led to reductions in employment and purchasing activity


eanwhile, the rate of input cost inflation quickened to a sharp pace as higher oil and fuel costs led to rising input prices. The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index® (PMI®) – a seasonally adjusted index designed to track changes in total construction activity – registered 41.9 in September, following a reading of 40.7 in August. Although this pointed to a weaker reduction in activity, the pace of decline remained sharp. Panellists mainly linked the latest fall in activity to lower new orders amid weak client confidence. Commenting on the survey, Simon Barry, Chief Economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, noted that: “as has been the case for well over five years, the Irish construction sector continues to experience declines in activity according to the latest reading of the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers Index. The survey results for September show that while the pace of contraction eased very slightly last month, the sector continues to exhibit widespread weakness. The overall PMI

Latest Construction PMI® readings Total Activity Housing Activity Commercial Activity Civil Engineering Activity

edged higher from 40.7 in August to 41.9 in September, but at this level remains some distance from the breakeven level of 50 as all three sub-sectors continue to experience substantial declines in activity. The rate of contraction did ease a touch in the Housing and Commercial arenas, but there was a pronounced weakening in Civil Engineering where activity is now falling at its sharpest pace since the end of 2010. “In contrast to the persistent declines in construction, recent Manufacturing and Services PMIs both recorded expanding activity levels, highlighting the on going divergence in trends between many areas of domestic demand which continue to struggle and the internationally-traded sectors of the economy which are managing to hold up relatively well. There appears to be little reason to expect this pattern to change much in the near term, with the latest PMIs showing incoming new business levels on the rise in manufacturing and services but still on the slide in construction.”


40.7 39.1 42.4 35.6

Sep’12 41.9 41.2 45.7 30.8

Index readings above 50 signal an increase in activity on the previous month and reading below 50 signal a decrease. All indexes given above and displayed in the charts are seasonally adjusted. Source: Markit.

By far the steepest reduction in activity was recorded on civil engineering projects. The substantial decline in activity in the sector was the fastest since December 2010. Both housing and commercial activity decreased at slower rates during the month, with the weakest reduction seen for activity on commercial projects. New orders decreased amid weak client demand and strong competition for any available new business. The pace of reduction eased over the month, but remained substantial. Declining workloads led to a further reduction in employment in September. The latest fall in staffing levels was sharp, and quickened to the fastest in 16 months. Input prices rose for the second consecutive month in September. Moreover, the rate of inflation quickened over the month to the sharpest since March. According to respondents, higher oil and fuel costs had been the main reason for the latest increase in input prices. Lower activity requirements led construction firms to cut their input buying during the month. Purchasing activity has now decreased in each of the past 25 months. Despite falling demand for inputs, vendor lead times continued to lengthen. Panellists indicated that longer delivery times mainly reflected low stock levels at suppliers. Optimism with regards to the 12-month outlook for activity was signalled in September, and the level of positive sentiment improved slightly over the month. Those firms that forecast an increase in activity linked this to expectations of improving new orders, driven by overseas markets.


Active Town Management key to effective planning


Dying town and city centres can be transformed into vibrant, high quality, healthy places for both day and night time activity. Amongst the issues Irish towns and cities must consider when assessing their future were: accessibility, public transport, parking, culture, site assembly issues, the quality of the building stock and the built environment and the provision of safe, vibrant public spaces


his is according to the President of the Irish Planning Institute (IPI), Ms Joanna Kelly. She states that “Active Town Centre Management and an appropriate diversity of uses based on sound planning principles can transform town and city centres into high quality, healthy places with both day-time and night-time economies. Such town centres are inviting places leading to longer stays by shoppers and visitors and increased spend per head. “The planning profession recognised that previous Retail Planning Guidelines were not always applied consistently,” adding: “the days of permitting retail parks off major interchanges should be behind us. The recently published retail guidelines should help bring more certainty to the planning system and ensure that it is the town centre first and foremost where new retail developments should be located. By directing development to our town centres in the first instance, only then can we harness the synergy and economies of scale necessary to create vibrant and strong centres.” Making the case for Town Centre Management, Ms Kelly says planners had a key role to play in this. The narrow view of planning as solely relating to the processing of planning applications was far too common and instead planners must use their leadership, negotiation and management skills to actively lead the way in creating more sustainable and vibrant communities within our town centres. “The need for positive thinking and action is critical if we are to restore the towns to the vibrant places they once were,” she stated adding that issues such as site assembly should be resolved with local authorities taking the lead and using powers such as Compulsory Purchase Orders. “More innovative solutions should not only be sought but also expected regarding design, layout and access issues, Ms Kelly states. “Town centres are the heartbeat of towns, serving the needs of local communities, acting as hub for commerce and enterprise and representing a significant tourist


attraction,” she adds. Taking up on the IPI President’s comments, Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Housing and Planning, says that strong retail sector is a key element of the vitality and competitiveness of cities, towns and villages throughout the country. Minister O’Sullivan goes on to say that while many of our cities and towns had witnessed major upgrading of key central retail areas, there had also been a proliferation of retailing in some locations where there has been poor demand, poor alignment with existing transport links and/or adverse impacts on the vitality of nearby city and town centres. She adds: “this couldn’t continue and I am confident that the Retail Planning Guidelines and its accompanying Retail Design Manual, will ensure that the planning process now properly provides a clear framework for the ongoing development of the retail sector and its significant contribution to overall national development in terms of economic activity

and employment.” The Minister says she believed that implementation of the new retail guidelines by local authorities would provide a clear policy framework for retailers and communities and ensure good vitality of our cities, towns and villages and ultimately achieve competitiveness, nationally, regionally and locally. Referring to development contributions, she said that since their introduction in 2000 these had assisted in the delivery of much needed investment in essential infrastructure but added that a changed economic landscape meant that “The days of huge revenues from development contributions are gone.” Therefore, a key aim for future development contribution schemes must be to promote sustainable development patterns, secure investment in capital infrastructure and encourage economic activity. With this in mind, the new draft guidelines are both pro-planning and pro-jobs. Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Success Spotlight

Passion, Products and People As a family run business with over a decade of experience in the construction industry, both nationally and internationally, Smet Building Products is passionate about delivering the leading names in building products direct from Europe to Ireland and the UK


he firm’s strength is offering innovative high quality products supported by exceptional customer service which leads to improved site management, time saving, quality improvements and waste reduction. Irish Construction Industry Magazine caught up with Director Joris Smet to get the inside story behind this successful enterprise.

innovative European screeds & renders, achieved ISO9001: 2008 and invested in logistics for both bulk and bagged products, the SMET brand was born. We are a young dynamic company with customer loyalty at the foundation of our creation and future development.

ICIM: What are the advantages to customers of dealing with a family run business? Joris Smet – Primarily the speed at which we can respond to requests and because there are no office politics we are focused only on getting things done. This means a win-win situation for both SMET and the customer as they build trust and promote the SMET brand.

ICIM: In terms of developing your product range, how do you go about sourcing new lines and products and ensure you are ahead of the curve? Joris Smet – Bringing European Innovation is the SMET mission. I’ve been fortunate having worked in the Netherlands, where advancements in dry mortar technology are many years ahead of the UK & Ireland. Speaking 3 languages certainly helps when sourcing the latest European innovations which I can deliver to SMET supported partners.

ICIM: Provide a brief history of the firm, referring to milestones in the development of the business. Joris Smet – I created Smet Building Products Ltd due to the continued demand for my advice and services after 10 years working in the leading dry mortar industries in The Netherlands, Ireland & UK. Having secured sole agencies for

ICIM: Please provide a project case study that incorporates innovative SMET products? Joris Smet – The new Lidl store in Littlehampton, where we delivered an innovative render system that matched the technical requirements and speed of application required by Lidl for a super quick turnaround. This project is a perfect


example of best practice partnership combined with innovative products which makes SMET so successful. So much so, we went on to supply many new Lidl stores and bakeries across Ireland and the UK. ICIM: How do you ensure that your customer services and technical support keeps pace with product development and changing client demands (perhaps focus on your CPD session with clients)? Joris Smet – We are constantly talking to our customers, in fact it would be fair to say we live in their pockets! We have a concept that each client is a ‘SMET supported partner’, which means each client is provided with a total solution which meets their specific needs. A case in point would be where recently we invested with a client to have the latest on-site bulk storage in order to service the increase in screed demand. ICIM: Who and where are your clients – in your opinion why should customers look to SMET over its competitors? Joris Smet – Our clients are located all over Ireland and in the UK, however our clients could be specifying SMET products for projects around the globe. We are known for our pro-active professional work ethic Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Success Spotlight and quite simply because we love what we do. We are champions for our innovative products. ICIM: How has business been over the past year and what strategies have you adopted to move the business forward? Joris Smet – We have worked hard and are thankful to see continued growth each quarter mainly due to the strategic introduction of innovative product ranges and by offering variable delivery systems by package or bulk. We are also continuously busy behind the scenes with advancements on our online offering and digital media. ICIM: What markets offer most potential going forward? Joris Smet – There is always potential in the renovations, retrofit arenas and the local Public Realm projects. ICIM: What quality standards do you operate to and how is quality promoted throughout the firm? Joris Smet – We realised from our conception, as a supplier of superior quality building products and services, we must ensure our operations are carried out to the highest standards. In order to achieve this we operate BSI registered EN: ISO9001: 2008 quality management system that defines all our working procedures and processes. ICIM: Your website is extremely comprehensive in terms of technical information; how important is online resources to the future development of the business? Joris Smet – We are finding customers are using more online resources, accessed through their Smart phones and web tablets, thus the printed media is becoming less popular. There will always be a place for hard copy of course but the future is digital. It’s of paramount importance for our material to be up-to-date, accessible in appropriate formats and above all: relevant. ICIM: “…with our products and our support, you'll soon find; improved site management, time saving, quality improvements and waste reduction…” - is there a project or client that encapsulates these positives; please elaborate. Joris Smet – There are many projects which illustrate these positives, one recent case was the supply to Frankfurt’s first Primark store. In collaboration with our SMET supported partner, Fast Floor Screed Ltd, we supplied on-site silo mixing pumps with JIT deliveries from our German

supplier, SHG GmbH. (This is where speaking the lingo comes in handy!) Ensuring continuous availability of CE marked self-levelling screed, the project totalling 4,500 m2 was placed in 4 days. All our projects are managed similarly on a personal basis, demonstrating best practice in partnerships. ICIM: What future plans are there for the business; how do you see business in five years time? Joris Smet – Hopefully moving along a similar line of growth! UK markets are interesting to us at present and while Ireland recovers, we plan to invest further in logistics, our websites, SEO projects, customer research and RIBA online resources. Sowing the seeds…..

country and are not new: getting paid, providing credit and protecting our investments. ICIM: What do you do in your spare time (hobbies, interests) Joris Smet – As I hinted at earlier, I’m a techno freak. I just love collecting gadgetry and innovative products. If I was part of a marketing survey for home entertainment technology, I would be classified as a Tech Innovator! Watching movies would be high on my interests list and naturally, spending time with my wife and our 3 children. Oh, and don’t mention the lego…!

ICIM: What do you do to keep motivated and driven in the business? Joris Smet - Personally I have an ‘always on’ business attitude and always accessible. This is reassuring to clients and is made easier with today’s technologies. I love technology in the work-place and am a fan of anything which helps us do our jobs. My genuine interest in building materials means I’m a champion for promoting them and constant dialogue with Germany and Holland means I am always up to speed on future developments. ICIM: What obstacles are there for businesses like yours and what suggestions do you have to overcome them (this could be anything from Bank credit, sub-standard imports, margins, Government support for the industry etc) Joris Smet – Our issues are the same issues faced by each company up and down the 25


THE DAMPER SPECIALISTS FOR ALL YOUR DAMPER AND DAMPER CONTROL REQUIREMENTS Actionair / Safegard: · Smoke/Fire dampers · Fire dampers · VCD’s · Shut-off dampers · Access doors

Belimo & Nenutec · HVAC actuators and valves

Ruskin R uskin · IIndustrial ndustrial & hea heavy vy dut dutyy dampers ((UL UL appr approved) oved)

Safegard Safegar Saf egard essable damper control control & monitoring monitoring syst ems · IIntelligent ntelligent addr addressable systems ol & monitoring monitoring panels · EElectro-mechanical lectro-mechanical damper contr control

· PPreventative reventative maint maintenance contracts. enance contrac ts.

SSchischek chischek · A ATEX TEX ac actuators tuators and sensors

moree infor information FFor or mor inf ormation visit www.saf .safegar or contac contactt us on 01 2761600 or info@saf inf o@safegar o@saf

UK Housing Market slightly stronger The UK housing market should see a slightly stronger end to the year with transaction levels expected to pick up and price falls predicted to slow, says the latest RICS UK housing market survey


elped by the prospect of greater mortgage availability on the back of recent government initiatives, chartered surveyors’ expectations for future sales reached their highest level since May 2010. During September, a net balance of 26 percent more respondents predicted transactions to grow during the final three months of the year. This cautious optimism was also reflected in surveyors’ price predictions with nine percent more respondents expecting prices to fall over the coming three months. While still in negative territory, this is the most positive reading since the time of the expiry of March’s stamp duty holiday. Last month, prices in the UK housing market continued to fall, albeit at a slower pace than in previous months. A net balance of 15 percent more surveyors reported falls rather than rises, the best reading since the spring. Elsewhere, demand from potential buyers remained stable in most parts of the country with four percent more surveyors across the UK seeing increases rather than decreases in new buyer enquiries. Interest from would be buyers has not seen any significant growth since the end of 2009. The amount of homes coming onto the market during September remained fairly flat, as five percent more respondents claimed that supply had risen rather than fallen. A persisting theme of the housing market in recent months seems to be that transactions are going through where vendors are realistic in their price expectations. The housing market was relatively flat during September but surveyors are optimistic that the run in to Christmas could see an increase in activity in many areas of the country. Prices are still dipping but at a much lower rate

than seen in previous months. Despite this, problems still exist and more needs to be done to get the market moving. Unrealistic expectations on the part of vendors seem to be stalling the transaction process. Meanwhile, although the funding for lending scheme appears to be improving mortgage availability, those at the very bottom of the housing ladder are still struggling. Another important indicator of the health of the UK Construction comes in the shape of the UK’s Construction Products Associations latest output figure and which forecast fall by 6.3% this year and a further 1.4% next, before a return to growth in 2014. This decline will mean a reduction of almost £8.5 billion of construction activity over these two years, undermining the ability for construction to lead the UK’s economic recovery. Commenting on these forecasts, Noble Francis, Economics Director at the Construction Products Association, said: ‘Construction is currently experiencing sharp falls, both for orders and output as a result of severe cuts in the government’s capital spending, coupled with a very subdued private sector recovery. Construction has already lost £4.5 billion of work this year as the industry returned to recession for the third time in five years. Prospects for the industry going forward are bleak. ‘Although growth is expected in 2014, the next 12-18 months are likely to cause considerable pain to an industry that is already reeling from a prolonged decline. Considering how important construction is to the economy as a whole, and how many times government has stated that construction is essential for recovery, these latest forecasts will do nothing to improve confidence in the UK economy.

‘With the Autumn Statement less than two months away, it is imperative that government prioritises its spending by switching from current spending to capital investment for essential housing and infrastructure, as well as sorting out the long overdue model for drawing in private investment into construction. Otherwise, rather than driving economic growth in the near term, construction will keep the UK economy flat-lining as it has been for the past two years.’ Other key findings in the Forecasts include the fact that 2012 total housing starts of 118,000, which is fewer than half the number needed to meet the number of new households being created. Public sector construction work to fall 19% between 2010 and 2014 and Private sector construction work to fall 4% in 2012 but rise by 15% between 2012 and 2016 were also key findings. Rail construction is set to rise by more than one third by 2015 and energy construction is set to double by 2016 were also notable indications.

Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director 27


E-Brick and E-Board: Smart 2-in-1 insulation solutions

For decades, outHaus Country Manor Bricks has been associated with attractive and high-quality facing bricks. In addition to the supply of facing bricks and production of special shaped bricks, outHaus Country Manor Bricks is also unrelentingly working on the development of new brick applications


e are now delighted to introduce E-Brick and E-Board from our suppliers Vandersanden of Belgium. With the E-Brick and E-Board system you can both insulate and finish exterior walls in one single action. Thereby, making a home or a project more energyefficient whilst simultaneously creating a new elegant brick façade. E-Brick panels for professionals E-Brick facing panels are ready-made insulation panels that consist of highquality insulation and are finished with facing brick slips. These brick slips are just 20 mm thick but in every other respect are wholly identical to the familiar Vandersanden quality bricks. To guarantee an impeccable result, E-Brick is fitted only by experienced craftsmen trained by Vandersanden. This gives users a 10-year warranty, both on the product and the installation. E-Board for professionals and DIY enthusiasts For those of you who like to roll up their sleeves, or prefer to work with their own trusted contractor, E-Board is an excellent alternative. The basis of this do-it-yourself kit also consists of a high-quality insulation panel that is combined with facing brick


slips. However, the brick slips, insulation panels, adhesive and screws are supplied to the building site as separate components. The tongue and groove system allows you to bond the panels quickly and with the greatest of ease. This just leaves to you to position the brick slips into the purposeprovided ledges. High insulation values Both E-Brick and E-board come in different thicknesses of insulation and the

brick slips can also be combined with rigid insulation panels, which even allow you to achieve the required insulation value for a passive home (U ≤ 0.15 W/m²K for walls). The pay-back time is very short, thanks to energy savings and possible subsidies. E-Board and E-Brick have an extremely low lambda value of respectively 0.032 W/m²K and 0.030 W/m²K. For both systems, you can choose from the full range of Vandersanden facing bricks. This means a choice out of over 100 colours in the widest possible variety of styles. If you would like to find out more about how to install E-Brick and E-Board, please visit where you can also take a look at a wide number of “before” and ”after” references. If you would like us to send you a brochure or if you are interested in installing E-Brick or E-Board, please contact us either through the website, by dialling 01-8441200 or by sending us an email at,

Irish Construction Industry Magazine


Retro cladding Limited part of the Country Manor Brick Group are External Wall Insulation specialists providing energy efficient systems and services to both domestic and commercial customers throughout the UK and Ireland. Retro Cladding supply and install these quality systems that increase thermal efficiency and reduce energy costs in old and new buildings while enhancing the external aesthetics of the property.

Advantages of our external wall insulation systems: • Increased thermal performance of the building. • Reduce energy costs by up to 60% and aids in protecting the environment. • Improves the aesthetic appearance of old tired buildings. • Low maintenance finishes. • Comprehensive range of finishes in Bricks, Stone and Render to satisfy most planning requirements. • Easy installation process with little impact on occupiers during fit out. • Can improve acoustic performance of the building. • Slimline systems adding as little as 40mm to the external of the building. • Can be applied to almost all external walls. • Weather Resistant and Breathable system. • Renders and naturals finishes can be combined to create a mixed finish. • Lightweight systems usually requiring no additional structural support. • Can achieve U-value of .27 or less. • Impact resistant.

For technical information or if you wish to arrange a consultation with one of our technical team please call us on 01-8441200 and ask to speak with a Retro Cladding consultant WWW.RETROCLADDING.IE


Building in ‘BRICS’ – Key Tax Considerations for Investing in Emerging Economies

“You have identified a great opportunity in Brazil, Russia, India, China or South Africa. They certainly have enviable growth rates and are attractive locations for Irish businesses aiming to generate growth while their traditional markets are static,” writes Ronan MacNioclais, tax partner, PwC 30

Irish Construction Industry Magazine



ccording to the recently published PwC 2012 CEO Pulse Survey, 19% of Irish business leaders are planning to target Brazil and South America as foreign expansion locations in the next 12 months, while 32% are planning to target China. So where to start? Key decisions have to be made regarding the type of legal entity to be used, the business model to be implemented and the tax strategy. Using an integrated strategy is essential, in order to minimise tax costs while maintaining the flexibility for a new business to develop and flourish. Corporate Structure and Timing The first question is: do you use a local representative office (often used for a low level of activity of sales support or marketing in Eastern Europe and Russia, as it typically can’t negotiate or conclude contracts), a local legally registered branch of a Irish parent company (often used in the Middle East but means that your Irish parent becomes a tax payer in countries where the tax regime may be evolving) or a legal entity incorporated as a subsidiary of an Irish parent company (often used for a substantive level of activity but creates challenges in relation to cash and profit repatriation, country management structures, local ownership rules etc). Some of these decisions might be driven by timing. Getting set up on the ground can take longer than you expect but perhaps you can set up a representative office more quickly. The exact location can impact the timeframe too. The typical lead time to complete the legal and registration requirements in Brazil can range from an average of 12 months in Manaus to an average of 10 months in São Paulo.

ratios between equity and debt investment. Brazil’s general rule is that the debt to equity ratio is lower than 2:1. Getting group debt in to India can also be very complex. In addition there can be central bank, legal or other requirements. In China, for example, there is a requirement to register funds as either debt or equity capital when they are invested. Brazil has similar rules. The extraction of unregistered funds can be very difficult. How are you going to extract cash and profits? Clearly this ties in with how you have set up the business – what type of legal entity did you use, how did you fund it, what allocation of profits did it recognise and how was it staffed?

Funding Requirements and Profit Repatriation So how will you fund the operation? Equity, loan from head office, local draw down of debt, JV partner equity or a combination? Initial funding requirements for a foreign expansion will vary depending on your expected level of activity and the length of time it is expected to take for your business to generate cash in the new location. You should consider the legal and tax deductibility of interest rules in the foreign jurisdiction. In some countries, the choice between debt and equity may be dictated by the local legislation, which can set minimum levels of equity investments or provide for minimum

Set Up You should view an entry into a ‘BRICS’ market as a long term commitment, given the level of initial investment required to fund set up costs, assets to support the activities to be carried out and staff costs. A variety of questions arise, such as will the operations be integrated into the existing supply chain of the business or will a new supply chain be built specifically for the expanded operations? While tax may partially influence that decision as you will see below our experience is that it is critical that tax is only an element of the decision process – not the driver. The head office, perhaps sister entities and the local entities often combine to

create the business in a particular country. Allocating profits between these entities presents both a risk and an opportunity. As the corporate tax rate in the BRICS countries will in most cases be higher than the Irish corporation tax rate, it is likely to be more tax efficient to recognise as much profit as possible in Ireland, but how do you achieve that? In general terms, transfer pricing asks you to look at functions, risks and assets: • What business functions does the Irish parent company undertake e.g. assistance with sourcing raw materials, marketing strategy, customer contacts or pricing •

What level of risk can be effectively managed in Ireland and which risk areas must be delegated to the local team e.g.inventory or bad debts.

What assets are owned by the Irish parent company e.g. intellectual property assets, such as trademarks or patents. Does the local entity need these to operate?

Thinking about these things innovatively can create opportunities to transfer profits from a higher tax jurisdiction to Ireland, but as a word of caution - some of the BRICS countries may not follow the OECD transfer pricing guidelines, e.g. Brazil. Furthermore, there are restrictions on the tax deductibility of royalties paid



in connection with IP in certain countries (e.g. China) and withholding tax is common on such payments, so an integrated approach is key. Even where you are very familiar with the issues having long since expanded into the US or Europe, you may need to alter your established business model to accommodate an expansion into a BRICS country. In Brazil, for example, using a local sales office to facilitate sales made by a foreign parent company is ineffective, as heavy restrictions are imposed on businesses which make payments to foreign suppliers. A number of simplified business models are illustrated in the diagram below. The scope to implement these structures varies from country to country. The key to implementing the most efficient structure is often timing. It can be fatal to wait until the foreign venture is profitable to determine the allocation of the profits. Obviously, in a joint venture situation, this is even more important. Taxable Presence Who is going to work in the new operation – secondees from around the existing group who know the group, or local hires who know the market? In Brazil, for example, three out of every four hires must be Brazilian nationals. In South Africa, a senior management position in each foreign business may need to be held by a local person. Once your staff are working ‘on the ground’ in the new location, you need to ask questions such as: whether the parent


company or the new venture will pay the salaries; how many days per year your Irish staff will spend in the new location; whether this will change their tax residence status; and whether the business has an obligation to deduct local payroll taxes from salaries in this regard. The foreign business or the employee may have registration and payment obligations or other administrative formalities in the new location. In South Africa, the number of days which employees spend in the country, including for non business purposes, may trigger a corporate tax presence for their employer there. It is crucial that you understand these rules in advance. More broadly, a system to incentivise key expatriate or local staff may need to be put in place. Perhaps an element of the package can include the new “Foreign Earnings” deduction in Ireland. This enables Irish residents who spend 60 days in a 12 month period developing export markets the BRICS countries to deduct a maximum of € 35,000 per annum from their taxable income. Other Taxes When planning an expansion into a BRICS country, it is very important to bear in mind that the local tax system can deviate significantly from the Irish, US or EU systems. It is not sufficient to consider the standard payroll, corporate taxes and VAT and customs duties which apply in Ireland. Some BRICS countries levy taxes and use tax concepts which will be unfamiliar if you are new to doing business in the country. Examples of this

include business tax in China, the corporation tax surcharge applied to dividends in India and the tax treatment of marketing expenses in Russia. Conclusion There will be competing objectives as you try to balance your Irish tax objectives with the local in country objectives or the tax considerations with the non tax considerations, but overall the aim will be to maximise the after tax returns of the proposed expansion. The key to all of the above is a bit of thought. Take a little time in advance to craft the appropriate tax structure for your business at its stage of development and then seize the opportunities which these rapidly growing markets offer.

Ronan MacNioclais Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Canada Calling for Construction Workers Canada is experiencing significant labour shortages in skilled trades across all industries where the combination of an aging workforce and large scale infrastructural investment is leading to a drive for skilled workers from abroad


hese workforce shortages are predicted to continue over the next five years with Canada admitting an average of 150,000 temporary foreign workers annually in an effort to address shortages and keep Canadian industry moving. Irish workers are seen as having the desired skill sets, work ethic and cultural affinity with Canada that will help them to settle quickly into both work and life in Canada.


Importantly for Ireland, Canadian recruitment company, Diamond Group of Companies, has opened its Ireland & UK HQ in Dublin with the objective of recruiting 1,000 people from Ireland over the next 12 months and at similar rates for next five years. The jobs on offer through Diamond Global Canada are in construction, and skilled trades in the mid-western provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and

Newfoundland on the east coast. The jobs carry temporary contracts of up to two years. Certain temporary skilled workers can now apply for permanent residency after just one year working in Canada following a ruling earlier this month by Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to reduce the term to one year from two. Diamond Globalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clients include: Bennett Group of Companies; Morgan Irish Construction Industry Magazine


Construction (oilfield construction company); Rocky Mountain Dealerships (public company, a $900m agriculture & construction equipment dealership); Tenaris/Hydril, a public company and a leading supplier of tubes and related services for the world’s energy industry). Diamond Global Canada’s parent company, Diamond Global Recruitment, is also in tender processes for major infrastructural projects currently in the planning phase. Speaking about the decision to locate its European & UK hub in Ireland, Diamond Global Recruitment’s founder and President, Audrey Guth said: “Ireland will be our headquarters for Europe and the UK because we expect to be able to source a sizeable percentage of our recruitment targets here in Ireland. We are looking to Ireland not only because it is a visa exempt country but because it is an excellent source of skilled, English speaking individuals with an excellent work ethic.

We plan to recruit 1,000 workers for our clients within the next 12 months. This demand is projected to continue well into 2016. The positions vary from construction engineers and site managers, heavy equipment operators, machinists, welders, pipefitters, electricians, automotive technicians to food service managers and many more.” Ms Guth added: I am an immigrant to Canada myself having moved from the United States over 25 years ago. In addition to good careers in a stable economy, this vast country offers a wonderful lifetime opportunity to explore everything from our multi-ethnic cities to the natural wilderness that Canada is so famous for. Newcomers to Canada are often highly skilled but many face several obstacles to integrating into the workforce. The Power of Trades training program at the YMCAYWCA in Ottawa aims to change that for the mutual benefit of labour-hungry employers and immigrants seeking good jobs. Participants in the program come from many countries and have developed a wide array of skills: there are power machinists from the Congo, an electrician from Switzerland working in building automation and controls, a Brazilian cook who just landed a job as a carpenter and a Persian carpet darner from Iran who is now a glass technician. Making the switch to a new career in the trades "gives them an opportunity to . . . go through an apprenticeship program and earn money while they're being trained," says Madison Watson, program co-ordinator for the Power of Trades, which only operates in Ottawa at this time.

Canada is experiencing

significant labour

shortages where the

combination of an aging workforce and large scale infrastructural investment is leading to a drive for skilled workers from abroad

"The labour market prospects for good wages, self-employment and growth within the industry were all really attractive to these professionals." The Power of Trades is a "nontechnical" program that includes six weeks of classroom training followed by a twoweek co-op job placement with an employer. Participants get a basic orientation to the trades, individualized job search and career planning support, work placement and informational interview opportunities, access to in-demand certifications and help upgrading their education.


Goodbye to ‘Pay when Paid’? Improving Cash Flow in Construction


ay when paid or pay when certified clauses make payment of the subcontractor, by the main contractor, conditional upon payment by the employer and/or certification under the main contract in respect of the sub-contract work. Such clauses operate on the principle that a main contractor should not become liable to pay his sub-contractor for work carried out until after such time as he has received payment from his client. This necessarily involves a sub-contractor affording a longer credit period to the main contractor than the main contractor, in turn, gives to the employer.


The standard forms of sub-contract typically used in Ireland tend to tie the subcontractor’s entitlement to be paid to both certification and payment under the main contract. Both pay when paid and other conditional payment clauses have now been outlawed under legislation in the UK and we are about to take a similar step in this jurisdiction. Arguably, at its most basic level, a pay when paid clause is simply a matter of risk allocation, the risk being non-payment by the employer. The argument apparently accepted by the UK parliament in enacting

both the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 and the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 (which have outlawed conditional payment clauses) and also the view of the Irish legislature in the proposed Construction Contracts Bill, is that this risk should be taken by the main contractor and should not be passed onto sub-contractors, except in the case of insolvency of the employer. With the anticipated passage of the Construction Contracts Bill though the Dáil stages later this year, significant changes will be coming Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Legal Report

down the tracks aimed at improving payment practices within the construction industry. The impetus behind the proposed legislation has arisen primarily out of the current downturn in the economy which has, in turn, led to many sub-contractors having difficulties getting paid on projects and meeting their own debts as they fall due. The Bill introduces a number of provisions which aim to improve payment mechanisms in construction contracts (which will include design professional appointments) and core provisions will be implied, by statute, into construction contracts if not already adequately provided for. A key change is the prohibition of all conditional payment provisions. “a provision in a construction contract is ineffective to the extent that it provides that payment of an amount due under the construction contract, or the timing of such payment, is conditional on an act of a person other than one of the parties to the construction contract”. This provision will bring to an end to the process whereby the risk of a default by an employer is passed on to subcontractors. The legislature has sought to deal with the issues in an expansive fashion, hence the language used in the provision is very broad. Not only does this language prohibit “pay when paid” and “pay when certified”, it also extends to instances where a contractor might seek to make payment conditional upon securing financing or funding, or a third party satisfying some other criteria i.e. the reaching of a milestone

on a programme. However, this provision will not apply in an insolvency situation where the “other person” has become insolvent/bankrupt.

Where payment is not made by the due date, a statutory right to suspend works will be available

This prohibition on conditional payment clauses needs to be considered in the context of the other statutory provisions included in the Bill aimed at improving payment mechanisms in construction contracts.

Standard form contracts generally have detailed provisions relating to payment, including interim payments, due dates and so forth, and the Bill simply places these on a statutory footing. However, in so doing, the Bill also sets out certain minimum requirements and introduces new protections to secure effective cash-flow down the contractual chain. All construction contracts will be required to provide for the amounts of interim and final payments, or for an adequate mechanism for determining those amounts, together with the payment claim dates for each amount due under the contract. Where adequate mechanisms are not included, the provisions of the Schedule to the Bill will apply, which provide for interim payments at intervals of no greater than 30 days. In addition, where a paying party does not agree any part of a payment claim made under the contract, written details of this must be provided to the other party no later than 21 days after the payment claim date, failing which, the amount claimed must be paid in full. Where payment is not made by the due date, a statutory right to suspend works will be available (such an entitlement appears already in many standard forms). The innocent party will have the right, on giving no less than 7 days’ written notice, to suspend the performance of their obligations under the construction contract, without prejudice to any other right or remedy that party may have under the relevant construction contract. The right to suspend performance ceases once payment is made in full but, as currently drafted, a suspension cannot continue for more than 14 days, even if payment has not been made. This latter restriction contained in the Bill seriously undermines the protection which this right of suspension is intended to provide. Finally, the Bill anticipates the introduction of a statutory right to refer disputes relating to payment to fast track adjudication, which if made binding in the interim and afforded appropriate judicial support, will provide real payment protection to those providing works and services in construction. Tristan Conway-Behan Associate, Construction and Engineering, Arthur CoxMartin Cooney, Associate, Construction and Engineering, Arthur Cox This document contains a general summary of legislation and is not a complete or definitive statement of the law. Specific legal advice should be obtained where appropriate.


Investment Opportunities

Investment SWOT for EU Cities Efficient, flexible working environments, public transport networks and ‘green’ buildings are amongst the key drivers of investment attraction in Europe’s key cities, concludes a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) report “Corporate Real Estate: Investment and EU Cities”


ccording to the findings of the RICS Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) style paper, banks have virtually ceased lending for real estate investment outside core markets such as London and Paris, often providing finance only to major international firms. As a result, investors and occupiers are reluctant to take decisive action and commit to a deal as they wait to see how the eurozone crisis develops. However, the crisis has also brought some positive trends to the market, as reduced lending means less speculation, a return to fundamentals. The report suggests that occupiers are focusing on consolidation, cost-cutting, boosting productivity and encouraging flexibility, with demand continuing for spacesaving efficient working environments and ‘green’ buildings, often in lower supply in Eastern and Southern European markets. Occupiers’ choice is very much influenced by urban planning and strategies adopted at local level. Public transport, connectivity to other cities, and quality of life are cited as being important factors in driving investment and retaining staff, with Corporate Real Estate professionals under pressure to deliver


creative solutions to suit requirements in cities where landlords’ expectations and quality of real-estate stock are still lagging behind international standards. The need for more transparency, professionalism and common standards in the market was a common issue in each city, especially in the field of green ratings and codes of measurement. Thomas Jezequel, EU Policy and Public affairs officer at RICS and author of the report, said: “greater levels of dialogue are needed between occupiers, the real estate profession and local authorities in order to deliver the urban fabric and regulatory framework and allow sustainable growth. City, government and policy decision-makers must monitor how easy it is for businesses to locate in their city and make decisions accordingly.” Following a first publication entitled ‘Corporate Real Estate : Global Cities and Investment’ released at MIPIM in March 2012, RICS Europe’s network and key members in 13 prime cities within the European Union, including London, Frankfurt, Budapest, Amsterdam, Brussels, Milan, Paris, Warsaw, Madrid, Barcelona, Helsinki, Rome and Dublin, joined forces to

deliver this European edition, based on valuable market intelligence. With this publication, RICS examines which factors are currently determining companies’ location and investment decisions in these prime cities. Transport and planning decisions have left Dublin with a poor land-use system, but clustering of businesses in the Docklands and the International Financial Services Centre have resulted in Dublin becoming one of the world’s most internationally connected cities. The low corporate tax rate has seen many US and global firms open their European offices in Dublin, and their continued presence is largely dependent on the retention of the current Irish and international taxation regimes. About Paris, Philippe Alexis FRICS, Head of French Operations for CLS Citadel suggests that: “Paris remains a core market for international investors and suffers less from a lack of financing than other EU cities, holding up well despite the crisis and continuing to attract foreign investors. ‘The “Grand Paris” development project should also boost the market in the future.” As a major metropolis London offers businesses a wide talent pool of prospective Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Investment Opportunities

employees and a world class standard by service providers. In order to maintain its competitiveness as a location for corporate occupiers London city leaders should consider the challenges of; comparatively high costs of setting up business, the continued requirement for investment in city infrastructure, a historic landlord centric commercial lease structure, and the need to provide assurances to occupiers that future UK government policy will continue to protect London as a suitable location for a headquarters function. In Frankfurt, the market continues to be dominated by the financial services industry. Thomas Kral FRICS, Vice-Chairman Professional Group Commercial Property of RICS Deutschland said: ‘Frankfurt falls under the global rankings of world famous cities and is the smallest, most cosmopolitan region of Germany. It provides geographical and infrastructural advantages, making it one of the growth regions.’ Across Central and Eastern Europe, the picture is mixed. Budapest is very much influenced by the economic and political uncertainties in Hungary. Michael Smithing FRICS, Director of Green Building Certification at Colliers noted: ‘Budapest combines a well-educated workforce, inexpensive, plentiful office space and an excellent quality of life. We’ve succeeded in attracting a large number of shared service centres by matching the secondary Polish cities on cost and labour availability and beating them on quality of life and infrastructure.’ About Warsaw, Agnieszka Jachowicz MRICS of Arka Investment Funds said: “With the highest GDP growth in CEE, Poland is one of the region’s most attractive investment markets. Banks also perceived it as one of the safest economies and a majority of financial institutions active in Poland are developing their businesses in Warsaw. Banks also perceived it as one of the safest economies and a majority of financial institutions active in Poland are developing their businesses there.’ Barcelona is now reinventing itself as an international knowledge centre but more

transparency is needed in the office market. Of Madrid, gateway to South America, North Africa and Europe and economic, political and administrative hub, Luis Martin Guirado FRICS, CEO of BNP Paribas Real Estate Spain suggested: ‘The city has a modern transport infrastructure and a highly qualified and competitive workforce. Secured real estate assets in prime locations are available and constitute truly competitive opportunities.’ Brussels, home of the European Union and up to 500 corporate headquarters, may be hampered in the long-term by its obsolete and under funded public transport infrastructure and unstructured decision making - a risk for a city expected to gain 200,000 inhabitants before 2020. Amsterdam benefits from its situation in one of the countries least affected by the global financial crisis. The Netherlands are considered as a safe market with excellent conditions to do business. As occupiers are looking to consolidate their activities and maximise their efficiency in their use of space, the high vacancy rate on the Amsterdam market is not expected to decrease. This will be a challenge in terms of urban redevelopment in the coming years, with innovative and sustainable solutions needed. In Helsinki a small population and market area, as well as special cultural and climate conditions create specific challenges for

Finland. On the other hand, the quality of life is considered as very high and competitive, and the society’s stability and security are among the highest in the world. The commercial property market is wellfunctioning and there are numerous existing supply and development possibilities, which lower the threshold for location decisions. In Rome many corporate occupiers are willing to locate or relocate their activities here but can not find prime buildings up to international real estate standards. Despite particular constraints and heavier costs for the refurbishment of central historical locations, Rome’s market will have to adapt to new requirements in terms of quality space and flexibility if Rome is to progress from its current “secondary location” status for corporate occupiers compared to Milan. In Milan, authorities should reassess their strategy and face the need of a CBD with modern buildings, in order to be more competitive in the eyes of international occupiers currently looking for prime space inside the city limits. Expo 2015 should be exploited by the Milanese authorities as a great opportunity to invest in the city infrastructure and to be an accelerator of urban renewal processes. The event is expected to contribute to positioning Milan as a new cultural, research and creativity hub in Europe.



Investors facing refurbishment headache

Refurbishment required: the former Bank of Ireland headquarters at Baggot Street, Dublin 2, will have to undergo an extensive refurbishment before it can be re-let. The complex was bought by a group of investors for more than € 200 million in 2006 and is currently in receivership


tandards and regulations have evolved to reflect current needs, resulting in buildings which are outdated becoming redundant unless they are refurbished. Very few investment properties have been constructed over the past five or so years. Additionally, the market has moved from being a landlords’ market where 40

tenants took what they were offered, to being very much a tenants’ market requiring higher standards of finishes and services – usually for lower rents. Existing properties reflect the standards and statutory requirements of the period in which they were built. However, those same standards and regulations have continued to evolve and reflect current needs, resulting in

buildings which are outdated becoming redundant unless refurbished. While existing buildings generally don’t have to immediately conform to the new standards, it is a different matter when it comes to refurbishment or fitting out older buildings and bringing their floor space up to the standards expected by both the law and also discerning tenants. Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Refurbishment For example, if the windows need replacement as part of a refurbishment, then new ones have to meet energy standards often requiring triple glazing. Three layers of glass will add significant additional weight to the structure, and strengthening may be required in some cases. The higher insulation values demanded now may result in a reduction of floor area if the additional material has to be fixed to the internal walls of the building. New partitioning layouts may require full compliance with new fire escape requirements and so on. Access and egress requirements combined with the provision of adequate facilities to address the needs of the disabled can create serious issues for the refurbishment of older buildings, in many cases challenging the architects’ ingenuity to provide a cost-effective solution. Heating, lighting and lift systems have changed significantly in the way each delivers its respective service. In an era when everything seems to be produced as a microchip, the sheer volume of additional mechanical and electrical features needed to service and operate a modern building results in additional space requirements for these services. There is also often a requirement to make significant structural alterations to provide the accommodation. It gets particularly complicated if the building is on the list of protected structures in a Development Plan where the building regulations say one thing and the conservationists often say something else. There are two serious consequences for the existing or new property investor. Firstly, the costs and difficulties of carrying out a refurbishment have increased significantly, and a refurbishing project which might have cost €30 per sq ft five years ago can now cost double or treble that figure. Secondly, the value of unrefurbished buildings has fallen as new investors factor in the increased costs of meeting tenants’ requirements. Many institutional and private property portfolios now hold properties dating from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Most of these buildings face large refurbishment costs. Many investors have on the close horizon a double whammy of expiring leases as well as big refurbishment bills. Some of these older buildings may, due to design or other factors, be more valuable as redevelopment sites than as cases for heavy refurbishment. Whether to spend big money or demolish and rebuild is often a hard call by property asset managers because if you spend large

sums on an obsolete building frame it can be money down the drain in the long term. But in addition to the changes in building standards, there has been a noticeable shift in tenant standards which may make simple refurbishment uneconomic. For example, industrial and warehouse tenants demand changed specifications – greater floor-to-ceiling height, fewer columns, super-strong floors plus loading docks and ample truck parking. Consequently, many of the vacant industrial buildings now gracing our 1970s, 80s and 90s industrial estates are effectively slums waiting for full site clearance. It is the same for office buildings with obsolete air conditioning systems, inefficient floor space, low ceilings or bad

recession than in the teeth of a boom as tenants are more accommodating and amenable to change and building costs are lower. Many inexperienced investors bought property in the good times and had no appreciation of the ongoing asset management work necessary. Many such holdings are now approaching lease expiry events and refurbishment challenges, and the owners don’t realise that running a property portfolio is a business not a sinecure. Unfortunately, many of the armchair self-appointed property asset managers of the boom era failed their clients not only by bad timing and overleveraging but by a failure to diversify clients holdings by

The costs of carrying out a refurbishment have increased significantly, a project which might have cost €30 per sq ft 5 years ago can now cost double or treble that figure

glazing systems. The one thing that these older buildings have is lots of car space in big basements, but this is often no longer in high demand as workers transfer to public transport, bicycles etc. Retail and the high street have not escaped locational obsolescence because of changes in consumer demand and spending patterns, and also greater competition resulting from the oversupply. Many shops that were once prosperous have lost footfall and either closed altogether or are producing lower and less reliable rents from lower calibre occupiers. Keeping a property portfolio up to date is challenging and does not happen by accident. Apart from regular reinvestment, professional asset managers are aware of the continuously changing technical and market environment, and strive to keep their portfolios in top condition by taking action on a property-by-property basis – with a business plan for every property. Such action may be by selling a particular building, by accumulating sinking funds for vacancy and refurbishment or securing planning permission for redevelopment. The fact that we are in the middle of a property recession does not stop this ongoing work. Indeed, sometimes it is easier to implement portfolio changes in a

concentrating all assets in a single building and not anticipating obsolescence. Experienced property asset managers strive to have at least 10 differentiated properties in a balanced portfolio, so that if one or two properties turn out to have problems the other ones will make up for the deficiency, and the expense of refurbishment is spread over a broader rent roll and a broader time scale.

Bill Nowlan is managing partner of property asset management company WK Nowlan Associates 41


It's all over.....until next year! National Ploughing Championships 2012 - Husqvarna Ireland tops the polls with the All-Ireland Pole Climbing Competition


he National Ploughing Championships, which were being held in Heathpark, New Ross in Co. Wexford, ended on Thursday evening last, 27th of September. Over 187,000 people attended the three-day event, which was officially opened by President Michael D Higgins on Tuesday. Nearly 1,300 companies took part as exhibitors for the event which despite the horrendous weather on Tuesday and Wednesday, was still a huge success.

chainsaws for spectators, which was a huge hit with the crowd. Some TV crews even took advantage of the incredible view from on top of the 90 foot poles to film the NPC site (and probably half of the Wexford landscape!) from new heights. TG4 News, RTE News and The Craig Doyle Show from RTE were all spotted hovering in mid-air, attached by a simple harness and suspended by the team of belayers from TreeCare Ireland who assisted the Pole Climbers each day, filming the crowds from the 90ft Husqvarna poles. A spokesperson from Husqvarna Ireland said: "We had a phenomenal response to the Pole Climbing & Axe Factor this year and even all the wind and rain didn't seem to dampen the spirits of the 187,000 visitors over the three days! People came prepared for the weather and had a fantastic time, as did we and although we're all tired, we're already excited for NPC 2013! A huge thank you again to all those who visited the stand and also those brave volunteers who took part in the Pole Climbing!". As it happens, TreeCare Ireland, who were heavily involved in the Pole Climbing and Axe Factor this year actually provide training courses for the public in a range of areas such as chainsaw training, tree-felling and also tree climbing and aerial rescue, which can be booked through their website Following the success of the Pole Climbing & Axe Factor this year, it will be interesting to see what Husqvarna Ireland plans to bring to the table at NPC 2013....all will be revealed in time no doubt!

Husqvarna once again came tops in the entertainment polls with the phenomenal Pole Climbing Competition and Axe Factor. Competitors came from all over Ireland and the UK to compete for this years All-Ireland Pole Climbing Champion title. This year's winner was Matt Thomas with an incredible time of 11.93 seconds! Volunteers from the crowd who tried their hand at climbing the 90ft poles would agree that 11.93 seconds is an absolutely astonishing achievement. The Pole Climbing Competition ran each day every two hours, followed by the highly impressive Axe Factor, where skilled Axe Men from Ireland, England and Wales (a group known collectively as "Irish Axemen") put on a fantastic demonstration of cutting timber and carving chairs out of wood with



Groundforce Muscle Supports Mega Basement Excavation

Groundforce has recently supplied 10 large hydraulic props incorporating their wireless load monitoring system, and including six of their largest - the 500-tonne capacity MP500 Super Strut - to support a basement excavation for 3 Merchant Square, part of a multi-million mixed-use development

he 9m deep basement excavation is located just a few metres away from Paddington Basin on the Grand Union Canal and is lined with a combination of steel sheet piles and a secant piled wall. Poor ground conditions and the close proximity of the canal mean that significant and variable lateral forces are imposed on the piled retaining wall. To ensure stability, groundworks contractor PJ Carey cast a heavy capping beam over the piles and specified Groundforce struts for structural support. Four knee-braces comprising 150-tonne


was chosen primarily to maximise the amount for working space inside the excavation so PJ Carey could cast the basement slab and begin construction of the central core without undue interference due to supporting steelwork. “The MP500 struts employ our 1220mm diameter Super Tube extensions which give them the strength and rigidity to span the 49m width without intermediate support,” said Mr Whitmore. “Using our biggest struts also allowed us to minimise the number of supports required.”

working load capacity MP150 struts are used to support one end of the excavation; at the other, support is unnecessary as an existing concrete retaining wall provides stability. Most of the lateral support is required across the width of the huge excavation which is more than 100m long and 49m wide for most of this length. Support here is supplied by the five MP500 Super Struts located at the point of highest calculated load. “The loadings are not consistent or evenly distributed so at this point we have had to use our largest strut to ensure stability,” says Mark Whitmore, technical sales manager with Groundforce. All 10 of the struts are braced against the capping beam which has specially designed steel corbels cast into it to accept the connectors at the ends of the MP150 and MP500 struts. The Groundforce equipment

The MP500 was first developed in 2008 for use on the massive Tyne Tunnel project for French contractor Bouygues. Essentially a bespoke product designed for a specific purpose, it has now been updated, refined and launched as part of Groundforce’s Major Projects range. “The MP500 is the flagship of our fleet,” says Mr Whitmore. “We are seeing a growing demand for these large struts as a cost-effective solution for all types of major excavation.” The hydraulically extendible strut uses modular tube sections to obtain the required length and has a hydraulic adjustment of +/0.5m. The strut is assembled in-situ, fixed to the corbels and extended and pressurised between supports before being mechanically locked off with twin load-bearing screws. Besides providing a clear working space


within the excavation, the Groundforce struts save time thanks to the speed with which they are installed. Even the massive MP500 struts took less than half a day to fix in place. During the excavation phase, loads on the support structure will be constantly monitored in real time using Groundforce’s own remote load monitoring system. This uses load pins in the strut connectors to measure loads and send readings via secure SMS or wireless internet links to authorised recipients. “Each 47m long MP500 prop was installed in less than half a day, which is far quicker than a traditional fabricated solution. The system does not require any mid-span support and has the added benefit of incorporating a load monitoring system,” said Bradley Barham, contract manager - Merchant Square, with PJ Carey. The installation was completed in June, each strut being installed in sequence, and they will remain in place until late autumn 2012. Merchant Square, a development by European Land and Property, is due for completion in summer 2014.

Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Products Hearing protection with a nifty hidden extra.... A tough job becomes better, safer and maybe even more enjoyable with the right accessories, protection and clothing. When Husqvarna develop accessories, supplementary tools and clothing, it would appear they apply the same thinking as when they develop their other products. A spokesperson for Husqvarna Ireland said: "We listen to the most demanding customers and let their views form the basis for our product design and our choice of materials. Due to the nature of our industry, we know that helmets, visors and hearing protection are essential when working with machinery to protect the user. We have developed a wide range of effective and comfortable protective accessories for demanding forestry, park and garden work. These products are tried and tested and designed in close co-operation with professional users." One rather nifty accessory we discovered in the Husqvarna product portfolio is 'Radio Earmuffs'. This new hearing protection with FM radio looks like a regular set of protective earmuffs but has an Audio input

of 3.5mm (AUX) for mp3 or communication radio. The new and stylish headband centralizes the pressure on the headband, giving less pressure on the ears. It also has improved attenuation and high improved sound quality. The ear muffs are individually designed for the left and right ear, meaning that they follow the shape of the head, giving a perfect fit for all ears. The normal retail price for a set of these radio earmuffs was €151.99, but Husqvarna Ireland have just announced a 25% price drop due to an unprecendented surge in demand and they are now retailing at €109.99 nationwide. A spokesperson from Husqvarna Ireland said "We've seen an enormous surge in demand for Radio Earmuffs in recent times, they really seem to be catching on - I can't stress how important it is to protect your hearing while you work with loud machinery such as chainsaws, brushcutters, lawnmowers, tractors, hedgetrimmers, con saws, drills or heavier equipment, but now you'll never be bored whilst working again!

Personally I think they make great Christmas stocking-fillers for anyone using machinery - they're both nifty and practical!" Husqvarna have said that these radio earmuffs are available from their agents nationwide, which can be located from their website

ISOVER OPTIMA Drylining System - the 1st NSAI Certified Drylining System in Ireland! ISOVER OPTIMA is a high performance renovation solution - for insulating older houses from the inside. Currently in Ireland there are a high number of homes with inadequate wall insulation, OPTIMA has been developed by insulation experts ISOVER to improve thermal & acoustic performance, where outer facade or cavity wall insulation is not an option or not sufficient – OPTIMA offers a simple solution for the quarter of a million solid brick houses currently in Ireland, as well as many more cavity wall homes. It’s the 1ST dry-lining system approved by the NSAI, as it is tested and approved to not only improve the thermal & acoustic performance of a building, but unique in that it also takes care of potential moisture issues and helps to reducethermal bridges normally associated with drylining. The average residential home can lose up to 30% heat loss through external walls & OPTIMA Drylining system offers a simple solution – Quick & Easy to install & Cost effective. ISOVER Ireland, part of the SaintGobain group are committed to comfortable living& climate protection and at the heart of our strategy is the promotion of best practice in Renovation solutions, & driving building standards improvements. Therefore creating healthy

Dean O'Sullivan, Sales & Marketing Director Gyproc and Isover Ireland; Fintan Smyth, Building Physics Manager Gyproc and Isover Ireland; Barry Hennessy, Area Specification Manager; Sean Balfe, Director of Irish Agrement Board NSAI; Gary O'Sullivan, Certification and Inspection Officer, NSAI Agrement; Brian Dolan, Managing Director Gyproc and Isover Ireland buildings and living environments for residential home-owners - warmer, more comfortable homes, acoustically improved and with reduced energy costs. ISOVER are also offering free training to installers & contractors on the new

OPTIMA drylining & air tightness solutions, at their state of the art Technical Academy in Kingscourt Co. Cavan.



Unlocking potential: the changing role of plasterboard Pat Freyne, sales and commercial manager for Siniat (formerly Lafarge Plasterboard), on the role of modern products in shaping new, efficient building methods


cross our industry, new products and practices are shaping the way we build for the better. Often, however, industry understanding can lag behind the advances that manufacturers are making – especially for staple materials. The concept of plasterboard, for example, is outdated – and it has been for some time now. While the overarching name ‘plasterboard’ made sense a couple of decades ago when these basic boards were simply an alternative to traditional plastering methods, it is now wholly insufficient. Modern plasterboards are specialist products which improve insulation and acoustics, fire resistance and, in some cases, even water resistance. Only by better understanding these products, and by shrugging off some of the misconceptions surrounding them, can they be used to their full potential. Innovations in plasterboard technology mean they can be used in ways not thought possible before. For example, our GTEC Aqua Board is a gypsum based board that is specifically designed for use in areas of medium to severe exposure to water and humidity. This makes it ideal for use in kitchens, bathrooms and swimming pools and spas. It has such high water resistance credentials, as well as fungus and mould resistance, that GTEC Aqua Board was used in the spa area at the Antrim Forum Leisure Centre. There isn’t a need to use a waterproof membrane behind the board and nor does it need two coats of sealer to ensure its water resistance. Instead it can be installed and tiled onto directly. Water resistant plasterboard is not only useful in kitchens and bathrooms; its


water resistance also makes it an excellent board for external use. It can be used as a sheathing board behind insulated render and various cladding systems. This means that contractors can weather proof projects more quickly than with other materials and can then leave the board exposed to the elements for up to six months. Plasterboards today typically have fantastic green credentials, an important characteristic considering the focus on sustainability within the construction industry. Plasterboard is a low carbon building material which is recyclable and non-hazardous. In fact it is so easily recycled that we have managed to reduce our waste to landfill from manufacturing to 0.03% of output. It also has a relatively low level of embodied carbon. GTEC LaDura is made up of 8% hard wood particles, and because of its excellent pull-out strength it typically does not require reinforcement by plywood board. This means less waste, fewer materials and better sustainability on site. It has a proven track record in commercial projects, and is currently being used at the Science Research Building at the National University of Ireland Galway, where the board’s excellent pull-out strength make it an efficient way to provide the technical performance needed for the large amount of fixtures being hung on the partitions. There are also products on the market which provide a range of high-performance functions. For instance, GTEC Megadeco combines fire,

impact and acoustic performance which means it can be used in a number of scenarios. As a result it has been used widely, including projects at the Critical Care Unit of the Mid Western Hospital in Limerick and the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast. Plasterboards also offer a high level of fire resistance, which is especially important for timber frame new build projects. Boards such as GTEC LaDura, are able to help prevent fires spreading both during construction and after the building is completed because of their high gypsum content. The board is strong and dense, meaning that it has the highest level of racking resistance available on the market. This stabilises a timber frame, helping to protect it for longer during fires. The construction industry is constantly evolving, and building products evolve along with it. As part of this evolution many building materials have become specialist and high-spec and require a good level of awareness to be used effectively. Plasterboard now describes a category of products, rather than one, easily-identifiable building material. From high-impact credentials through to fire and water resistance – there are now specialist boards for many functions. Getting more from staple products can be key to achieving widespread efficiencies and, ultimately, lower costs for delivering projects. A good dialogue with manufacturers is essential. It’s a great way to find out about new, smarter ways of working, which are more important than ever in our tough marketplace. Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Products Freefoam first with 50 years Lifetime Roofline Guarantee Freefoam Plastics, the market leader in sustainable, innovative roofline and rainwater products, has achieved another first with the introduction of the first ever 50 years Lifetime Guarantee on white PVC-U and PVC-UE roofline and rainwater products. Last year the company announced its intention to review its guarantees with a view to extending them. This development will help Freefoam stockists and Registered Installers gain a significant competitive advantage in today’s challenging market. Having had many years of trouble-free performance in all weathers, from Scotland to the South of France, with its lead-free formulations, COLORMAX® technology and extra TiO2 UV protection, Freefoam is able to offer an extended 50 years transferable Lifetime Guarantee. The new lifetime guarantee is available immediately on white roofline and rainwater products installed by a Freefoam Registered Installer.

Freefoam’s standard guarantee on white products is 20 years, and this may be extended to a transferable lifetime guarantee of 50 years by registering the installation online at The guarantee on coloured and foiled products remains at a market leading 10 years while the company builds up its performance record. Its intention is however, as announced in January 2010, to revise this upwards as soon as performance evidence supports it. Aidan Harte, Freefoam Managing Director comments: “This announcement shows our determination to continue to lead the market, particularly where it matters. Roofline and rainwater are fitand-forget products. That’s what customers want to help them compete in difficult markets, and it’s up to us to manufacture trouble-free long life products which meet their expectations. Long life guarantees that support our

long life products give customers the reassurance that they will.” Call (021)496-6311 now or go to to register installations online.

Technical Brochure Launced Pictured at the RGII offices are Paul Waldron (General Manager) & Ed McDonnell (Consultant) with the new Technical Guidance Document. The Register of Gas Installers of Ireland has published this comprehensive 80-page technical guidance document which will prove an invaluable aid to all registered gas installers. The Technical Document covers everything from safety, certification and getting the customer connected to pipework within the building, permitted flue termination points and ventilation requirements. Copies are available direct from RGII. Further information available from RGII,;

Chartered Quantity Surveyor Patricia Power from RTE’s Room to Improve launches the SCSI House Reinstatement Cost Online calculator and iPhone and Android Apps. Further information


Products McAleer & Rushe Completes Brace Of Blackfriars Hotels For Accor McAleer & Rushe has completed an innovative twin hotel scheme by London’s happening South Bank, at 46-49 Blackfriars Road, Southwark, for Accor Hotels. The scheme which was forward funded by CommerzReal AG comprises a four-star Novotel with a two-star IBIS hotel to the rear. Work began on the 14-storey, Consarcdesigned scheme in November 2010. It is located just 100m from Southwark tube station it is convenient to London’s riverside attractions of the Tate Modern and the Globe Theatre. Novotel London Blackfriars includes 182 rooms, 12 business suites, six meeting rooms, a bar and restaurant and a full range of leisure facilities including a basement swimming pool. The new generation Novotel, is now open with lots of hi-tech gadgets to keep guests entertained, including restaurant tables fitted with televisions for lone diners and a

multimedia table with iPads. “It’s our best Novotel to date and represents the new generation of Novotels that we want to offer in the United Kingdom,” said Thomas Dubaere, Accor’s managing director for the UK and Ireland. The IBIS London Blackfriars has 297 bedrooms and is served by a bar and restaurant. Accor Hotel Group chief operating officer Jean-Jacques Dessors said: “This important development continues Accor’s strategic and ambitious expansion in the UK, particularly in London with the Novotel and IBIS brands.” McAleer & Rushe construction director Martin Magee said: “This has been a very significant project for us to work on. Strategically it makes an important contribution to London’s hotel offering, and locally the finished scheme has made a very significant addition to the

regeneration of the Blackfriars area which is now a very attractive location. We look forward to working with Accor and their development partners on further projects.”

Size Matters At Tilestyle TileStyle is embracing the latest design trend in floor tiles with a stunning selection of large format tiles now on display in their showroom. Bigger and better than ever before, the tiles look fantastic in both contemporary and classic spaces and are available in the latest tones of warm grey, cream, brown, black & white, many of which are designed to resemble natural marble. Seen here is “Marble Grey”, which is an Italian porcelain tile, 80x80cm in size. Currently these are reduced from € 120 to € 77.50 per square metre and can be seen

at TileStyle’s showroom in Ballymount Retail Centre, on Ballymount Road Upper, Dublin 24.

Alternatively, phone 01-8555200, email or visit for further information.

Polyflor tucks in Polyflor, the UK’s leading manufacturer of commercial and residential vinyl flooring has recently had some of its SimpLay Loose Lay product installed at the famous Slattery’s patissier and chocolatier in Whitefield, Manchester. Slattery’s owner, John Slattery says, “We think that the new flooring looks fantastic and is a superb way to welcome our guests. We chose to install Polyflor's SimpLay product because of its hard wearing durability and ease of cleaning. As a busy restaurant, we need to feel safe in the knowledge that our flooring can stand up to a lot of traffic”. Simon James, Marketing Manager at Polyflor adds, “Polyflor has a proven history of providing flooring to the hospitality sector and we are delighted to see this trend continue with the installation at Slattery’s”. Installed by local firm, Winton Flooring, the SimpLay collection of loose


lay vinyl tiles and planks has been developed for a wide range of commercial interiors. Featuring eight authentic wood planks, six natural stone tiles and two weave pattern tiles, it is the perfect choice where quick and easy installation is required. Featuring a 5mm gauge and 0.7 wearlayer, the range meets the demands of the toughest commercial spaces while offering the flexibility to highlight specific floor areas and easily change the floor

design if required - eliminating prolonged disruption. SimpLay also features a PU surface treatment to assist ongoing maintenance and reduce life cycle cleaning costs and can also be installed over existing floorcoverings without the need of an adhesive. For further information on Polyflor, details can be found at: Irish Construction Industry Magazine

Strengthen Enhance and Protect

Grace Construction Products

Preprufe®... the most advanced waterproofing available. The world’s first waterproofing system engineered for below slab and blind side applications, Preprufe has been installed and proven in some of the most challenging building projects worldwide. • Advanced Bond Technology™ • Zero water tracking • Reliable, practical and highly effective

Distributor C/O Longs Construction Services 42 O'Casey Avenue, Parkwest Industrial Estate, Nangor Road Dublin 12 T: +353 1 6454999 F: +353 1 6454998

ICIM Nov/Dec  

Irish Construction Industry Magazine November December 2012