Construction Conference delegates express cautious optimism for industry
The over-riding message from the 4th annual Construction Management Conference in GMIT this week (Tuesday 11 March 2014) was one of cautious optimism for the industry, and a broad welcome for the new range of regulations.
Several hundred delegates attended the event hosted by the GMIT Department of Building and Civil Engineering, including architects, engineers, contractors, surveyors, property professionals, academics, and students from GMIT, IT Sligo and Athlone IT.
Presentations focused on a range of topics such as prospects for the industry, developments in construction products, best practice in building dilapidations, the Construction Contracts Act 2013, the Brooker Report and the new Building Control (Amendment) Regulations among other topics.
Hubert Fitzpatrick, Director of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), identified new regulations in terms of building control and contractor registration. There was lively debate on the timing of implementation. It was felt that the culture had changed and there is a need to support the professionalism of the sector. “The measures of the new building regulations and Construction Industry Registration Ireland (CIRI) are positive moves to ensure the industry moves towards a more professional ethos”, he said.
John O’Regan, Director of Aecom, welcomed the existing Government and Nama stimulus packages to the industry and suggested future phases would be necessary to sustain growth. “Ireland still falls short of the recommended output of 12% for a sustainable economy but the industry is heading in the right direction. Growth is predominately focused in Dublin and is slow to make its way to Galway.”
Paul Carey, Managing Director of Carey Developments, speaking from a contractor’s view, says “There is a pick up but we haven’t seen it yet. We have to remain positive and bounce back. Confidence is coming back into the market and significant Galway projects are coming on board included the N17/18 Gort Tuam bypass on which contract signing is imminent, the Harbour Development Project where planning is progressing, and a range of schools building programmes in the county.”
James Golden of Quigg Golden talked about the Construction Contracts Act 2013 and its new measures regarding payment of sub-contractors. He said it would improve working relationships within the construction industry.
Michael O’Connor, President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI), gave a presentation on the Brooker Report and its findings. He said “the new terms of engagement under the Capital Works Management Framework does not represent value for money and encourages low fee bidding, with some clients expressing the desire to pay higher fees to get a better service and to have a more collaborative design service. “
The conference was hosted by the GMIT Department of Building & Civil Engineering and Chaired and organised by lecturer Martin Taggart.
Opening the event, Mary Rogers, Head of the GMIT Building & Civil Engineering Dept, said “The latest CAO figures show a significant increase in demand for construction and civil engineering programmes in GMIT. Applications for the honours degree in Construction Economics and Quantity Surveying programme are up 80% this year on last, while applications for the honours degree in Architectural Technology are up 43%.
“The SCSI and GMIT recently announced a new partnership accreditation agreement (with the Dept of Building & Civil Engineering) which will allow GMIT Quantity Surveying honours graduates to progress to full chartered members of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. This will allow our graduates to fully participate in becoming leaders in the construction Industry and compete on a national and international stage,” she added.
Michael Carmody, GMIT President, announced GMIT is to offer a brand new programme catering to demand in the sector. “GMIT received over 40 expressions of interest in a potential Building Information Modelling (BIM) up-skilling programme. Many other professionals from industry have also approached us directly. I am therefore pleased to note that we have responded by offering a new accredited BIM programme. We expect to offer it from September”.
The conference was jointly sponsored by the Western Centre of the Chartered Institute of Building in Ireland and the Western Branch of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, and is supported by the Construction Industry Federation.