Brexit uncertainty is posing significant problems for large parts of the construction industry in Ireland, a new survey has found.

Two out of every five companies questioned confirmed Brexit will have an immediate impact on their business, while three quarters said they have done no impact assessment. 

The survey also found that many construction firms believe any Brexit scenario is likely to result in increased costs or delays.

The research was carried out among Construction Industry Federation members during December and January by the organisation as well as PwC.

It found the industry is struggling to plan for Brexit, with 72% of construction businesses here saying they have not undertaken any form of Brexit impact assessment or 'Day 1' preparation plan.

Nearly half of respondents expect the cost of doing business to increase by 5-10% in a no-deal scenario.

The biggest concern, felt by 80% of respondents, is that the cost of materials will rise in a post-Brexit environment.

Most of the businesses questioned expect supply chain difficulties and delays will be their biggest challenge after Britain leaves the EU, with only a fifth of those surveyed believing ports and airports will be ready on 1 April.

More than half said they have not considered the impact additional customs duties and administrative requirements will mean for their businesses while almost three quarters have limited or no customs experience, the survey found.

When it comes to engaging with suppliers and subcontractors to determine their exposure to Brexit and supply chain implications, only 8% said that they have, with a further 42% saying they have had only limited engagement. 


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A little over a third have considered the impact Brexit will have on their existing contracts, while just over a half have performed no review whatsoever of the impact it will have on their contracting arrangements.

A quarter of those questioned said they have concerns about the ability to source talent post-Brexit, with a similar percentage predicting that the biggest people impact on their business will be restrictions on the free movement of people to and from the UK. 

"This survey provides evidence that construction companies, like other sectors, are struggling to plan for Brexit," said Tom Parlon, Director General of the CIF.

"Many companies were already struggling with increasing input and labour costs with minimal cost recovery and Brexit, if no plans are in place, will add to the costs."

"Delays in the delivery of materials also have the potential to lead to penalties and additional costs that contractors and their subcontractors could struggle to address."

"With house building so tenuous outside the Greater Dublin Area, even minimal Brexit-driven increases could be the difference between securing development finance or otherwise."

Despite the worries though, more than three in every four companies said that they are not currently looking to diversify into other territories as a result of Brexit, while one in ten stated that it will have a positive impact leading to growth.

When it comes to those opportunities, the survey found that construction businesses here expect increased activity due to fewer UK construction firms being present and competing in the market, as well as in the predicted influx of businesses from the UK post Brexit.

42% of respondents said that their firm trades with the UK market, and a majority said they will increase or hold their physical presence there post-Brexit.

Director General of the Construction Industry Federation has said there is no doubt that construction costs will go up in the worst-case Brexit scenario.

Tom Parlon told RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke that the expectation would be a 5-10% cost increase, coupled with delays in the supply chain.

"If we have a border and have tariffs there is no doubt costs will go up. I think the expectation was between 5 and 10% and clearly there would be delays in the supply chain, but that is in the worst case scenario".

Referring to a CIF survey that found 72% of construction firms were not Brexit ready, he said many of the organisation's members are small family firms that "wouldn't have the wherewithall to get a consultant or whatever".

He said the impact of Brexit on the supply chain is a concern, but added that if we have "borders and customs and red tape" it is not just the construction industry that will be impacted.

"Most of our members are individual players and they are taking a chance, even though it is risky, but they are saying this is going to work out," he said. 

He added that firms are worried that even if they do attempt to make plans it might not be the right ones and they are carrying on in hope.

Mr Parlon added that some projects are being paused at present due to concerns over Brexit.