Since the lowest point of the recession that occurred in Ireland in 2013, the construction industry has rebounded quickly. More than 50,000 jobs have been created by the Irish construction industry since then, hiring an average of 1,000 new workers per month. By the end of 2019, up to 1 in 16 people will be gainfully employed by the industry as it begins to enter a stage of sustained growth.
The residential sector is driving the industry forward. New house completions reached 18,000 units in 2017, but that is 50% below the estimated annual demand available in the country. From 2016 to 2017, new house completions rose 28%, with completed projects rising in Dublin by 41% in the residential sector.
In Ireland, the Greater Dublin Area now represents 59% of the new housing supply for the construction industry.
What is fueling residential construction growth is the fact that Ireland has the lowest share of apartments for housing in the European Union.
Interesting Irish Construction Industry Statistics
#1. In 2017, the volume of on-site projects in the construction industry fell by 5% compared to the year before. Only Leinster and Connacht saw a rise in volume. (CIS Ireland)
#2. The value of projects in the Irish construction industry was down in 2017 by EUR 4.7 billion, with every region experiencing a sharp decrease in activity in multiple segments. (CIS Ireland)
#3. The residential sector in Ireland now represents over 30% of the value of all projects on-side, which is up from 21% in 2016. (CIS Ireland)
#4. In 2017, there were 4,155 major projects planned in the Irish construction industry, whereas there were only 1,062 projects granted planning in the agricultural sector. (CIS Ireland)
#5. Hotel and catering saw a 17% rise in the value of projects that were granted planning, while residential projects granted planning were up 27%. Every other segment of the industry saw declines in 2017. (CIS Ireland)
#6. 56% of the firms within the construction industry in Ireland experienced increased activities for the 6-month period which ended in March 2018. (PwC)
#7. About 75% of surveyors in the Irish construction industry saw increases in commercial and private residential construction projects. (PwC)
#8. Over 80% of firms in the construction industry experienced skill shortages in the past 12 months. Plasterers, carpenters, bricklayers, and electricians saw extreme shortages, which limited the number of projects that could be completed. (PwC)
#9. 52% of the firms in the Irish construction industry say that their finances are a challenge in 2018, though the level of difficulty is lower than it was the year before. (PwC)
#10. 70% of construction firms say that they expect a growth in their headcount in the next 12 months. Another 63% of firms say that they expect profit growth to occur in the next 12 months. (PwC)
#11. Surveyors in the Irish construction industry report working at a 79% capacity level. (PwC)
#12. The volume of projects submitted for planning increased by 4% in 2017, despite the fact that agriculture volumes within the industry fell by 27%. (CIS Ireland)
#13. Total construction output in Ireland rose by 18%, creating a total value of EUR 19.5 billion for the year. (Aecom)
#14. Tender prices rose by 7% in 2017 for the Irish construction industry, with an increase of 6.6% expected for the 2018 construction year. (Aecom)
#15. Construction costs in Ireland are expected to rise by 3.5% in 2018 for the industry, fueled by higher material costs and a higher cost for skilled labor because of talent shortages. (Aecom)
#16. The cost of building a residential apartment in Ireland is estimated to be up to EUR 2,000 per square meter, compared to EUR 1,575 in Northern Ireland. (Aecom)
#17. Surveyors for the industry reported increases in activity levels for the communications, utilities, and energy sectors of 9%, 6%, and 2% respectively. 30% of active firms say that they have seen increases in the levels of construction within these areas. (PwC)
#18. 23% of firms say that their order levels are up for road construction projects in Ireland, which is down from the 30% of firms who said the same thing the year before. (PwC)
#19. Only 42% of firms in the Irish construction industry say that competition is one of their greatest concerns for 2018 and beyond, which is ranked the lowest of any primary challenge. 81% said a shortage of labor was their greatest threat, followed by planning and regulation (77%), financial constraints (55%), and weather (43%). (PwC)
#20. 52% of the active firms in the industry say that they are having difficulty raising finance for projects that have received approval. Although high, this is down from the 58% of firms who said the same thing in 2017. (PwC)
Irish Construction Industry Trends and Analysis
In 2019, the Irish construction industry anticipates its sixth straight year of growth. It plans to enter into a mature stage, anticipating more growth in residential projects to meet current demands. At the same time, other construction projects are anticipated to decrease, offsetting many of the gains the industry could experience.
This situation creates a unique problem for the industry. If the bottom falls out of the residential construction market for some reason, then industry revenues would plummet, and jobs would disappear.
At the moment, what is holding the industry back is a lack of skilled workers. Completed projects could increase by as much as 30% if there was enough labor available to the industry. This shortage may resolve itself in the next 5 to 10 years as young workers complete apprenticeship programs, and migrants take up industry opportunities, although that is not a guarantee for success.
The Central Bank currently reports that despite upswings in the Irish economy, the Irish construction industry is at 46% of the employment levels that were present in 2007.
The future looks bright for the Irish construction industry right now. If these challenges are met, success will be found. If not, then the next decade could be one of turbulence for the industry.