Some of the most noteworthy construction stories from the last week, as compiled by the team at Construction Network Ireland.
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The construction industry grew by 11.4% in 2016 according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). At the same time Ireland’s overall GDP grew by 5.2%, making the country the fastest growing in Europe for the third year running.
The figures show that distribution, transport software and communications grew by 7.8%, with the agriculture sector growing by 6.2% and time public administration growing by 4.4%.
While Ireland’s economy is coming back from a lower base than many Eurozone countries following the recession, we are doing comparatively very well when compared with our trading partners – in the same 12 month period the economy across the Eurozone grew by just 2%.
Commenting on the report Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said that “under the steady hand of this Government, Ireland remains among the fastest growing economies in the European Union last year“.
While we are extremely sceptical of glib comments by government Ministers when things are going well, it has to be admitted that the not-quite-dynamic-duo of Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan have done a good job steadying the ship while in very stormy waters – the concern is what happens when both step down this year.
Amazon, the online retailer and cloud infrastructure company, is planning to build a €1 billion data centre campus in Dublin in order to meet a surge in demand for online services.
The retailer will build a mammoth €200 million, 20,739 sq metre, data centre at a site owned by the IDA in Mulhuddart, but is planning to build up to 7 more centres on the 26 hectare site, with a total investment of close to €1 billion.
At the peak of the construction phase of the first data centre, 400 construction workers will be employed.
Amazon already has a significant presence in Ireland with data centres in Blanchardstown, and another at the Clonshaugh Business & Technology Park, as well as three data centres in Tallaght.
Cairn Homes has signalled that it intends to seek a primary listing on the Irish stock exchange this year following strong results in 2016.
Cairn reported total revenues of €40.9 million for 2016 and an operating profit of €3.6 million for the year, a significant increase of revenue of €3.7 million and an operating loss of €3.8 million in 2015.
Cairn is currently active on seven sites, while will deliver more than 2,800 homes over the com ing years – Parkside on Dublin’s Malahide Road, Albany in Killiney, Marianella in Rathgar, Churchfields in Ashbourne, Six Hanover Quay in Dublin city centre, Shackleton in Adamstown and Glenheron in Greystones, Co Wicklow.
Work is also due to commence on its site in Naas, Co Kildare during the second quarter of this year.
The construction industry is one of the industries that Enterprise Ireland is promoting in export markets around the world, ahead of the likely triggering of the Brexit process later this month.
The state body has a total of 145 events planned both in Ireland and overseas, including 20 trade events in the US and Canada, a trade event in Norway and 20 events in the Asia Pacific region.
Enterprise Ireland has set what seem to be very ambitious targets for its 2017-2020 period with a target of exports increasing to €26 billion a year by 2020 among client companies and reducing Ireland’s reliance on exports to the UK, aiming for 2/3 of exports to go to non-UK markets.
Grafton has announced that it generated revenue of £2.5 billion in 2016, a 13% increase in revenue and a new peak for the company. It’s pre-tax profits also rose during 2016, 14% to £136.2m.
Despite a shaky UK property market the group’s UK merchanting business, which generates the most revenue for the company, finished out the year well.
Grafton’s Irish merchanting business also put in a very strong performance, with double digit revenue growth for the third year in a row.
Research by the Peter McVerry Trust show that 62 per cent of Irish people support a tax on vacant homes. As reported by CNI previously, the state has an estimated 198,000 vacant homes not including holiday homes.
While the move would be likely to incentivise owners of these properties to bring them back to the housing market, by either renting them out or selling them, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal Damian English told the Irish Times that the government is not considering a tax until 2019.
Given the pressure mounting on the government in this area, that may change soon.
Old fashioned attitudes from parents and schools which don’t offer STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Maths) are stymieing efforts to get more women to become engineers, according to Caroline Spillane, the first female director general of Engineers Ireland.
Speaking at NUI Galway to mark the official naming of the Alice Perry Engineering Building, which celebrates the first Irish woman to get a degree in engineering, Spillane said that there was still a belief that “engineering jobs are more suited to men than women”.
The figures in Ireland are worse than the European average – according to Eurostat, 85pc of engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates were men in 2014, compared with an EU average of 73pc.
Lawlor’s Hotel in Naas, Co. Kildare, has been granted planning permission for a significant extension of it’s business by Kildare Co. Council.
The development will provide a new entrance lobby and reception, lounge & bar; conference and function rooms and a landscaped garden area.
Crucially the development will see the addition of 80 hotel bedrooms over three levels and 140 new car parking spaces.
Shannon Commercial Properties, a Shannon Group Plc company, is developing a new €10 million state-of-the-art new office block aimed at the inward investment market. The build is part of a €25 million first phase redevelopment programme at the Free Zone.
Located on the periphery of Shannon Airport in the Shannon Free Zone, the high-spec 55,000 sq ft facility will be built to LEED Gold standards.
The new building will be situated on the newly named Airport Avenue, and is the first speculative new-build by Shannon Commercial Properties. It is believed that 120 construction jobs will be sustained during construction.
A 3D printed house, constructed in Russia by a California-based company for about $10,000, made the news around the world this week.
Tech experts took to newspapers and the airwaves to speak in breathless tones about the ‘future of homebuilding’. It must have sent a shiver up and down the spines of home-builders the world over…
Until they saw the ‘home’ in question.
It may be a marvel of technology, but it looks at best like a misshapen piece of Lego.
No doubt the technology will improve and it will have a part to play in the building process, but shares in Grafton Group or Cairn homes are unlikely to be threatened by it anytime soon.