Tom Parlon rows back on construction cost comment as most sites reopen

Tom Parlon rows back on construction cost comment as most sites reopen
"There won’t be a mad increase like that." - CIF Director General Tom Parlon rowed back on a suggestion that constrction costs could increase by 40%. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Construction industry chief Tom Parlon has rowed back on claims that infrastructure project costs would soar by 40% due to the Covid-19 shutdown.

Mr Parlon, director-general of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF), has said he 'misspoke' in the Dáil this week when he said restrictions could increase the cost of the National Children's Hospital by 40%. He also told the Dáil's Covid-19 committee the cost of building a house would rise by 5-10%.

But Mr Parlon has now claimed he "should have said productivity could be reduced by 40%" while restrictions are in place. Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sarah McInerney, he said it was not his intention to give the incorrect impression.

Tom Parlon rows back on construction cost comment as most sites reopen
Mr Parlon said he 'misspoke' in the Dáil this week when he said restrictions could increase the cost of the National Children's Hospital by 40%. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie
"It wasn't my intention, that's not a CIF view. Everyone is going to be working very hard to improve on productivity," he said.

"There won’t be a mad increase like that."

Mr Parlon said that the industry is now at the earliest stage of the return to work and it was too early yet to determine exactly what the increase in building costs will be because of physical distancing restrictions.

The figures for what increased costs may apply will become apparent in the coming weeks, he said.

Officials at the CIF told the Irish Examiner they expect most sites to be up and running by next week. Many reopened this week, with larger sites operating with about 20-40% of their normal staff levels as they implement social distancing and other safety measures. Smaller, less dense sites are at full capacity, in many cases.

Among those making some changes to get operations back in action are Glenveagh Properties. The home-builder said it is "managing a phased return to construction, which is resuming on approximately 80% of the group's sites with activity focused on completing housing units which are signed or reserved, and are capable of completion within a short timeframe".

Reports locally suggested the home-builder was stepping away from a major site in Blackrock in Cork city, where it has permission for more than 270 apartments. A spokesperson for the company said the Blackrock site "remains a key site for us".

Glenveagh restarted work earlier this week on 16 of 20 sites which had been active in March, before the lockdown.

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