CIF chief said he ‘misspoke’ after claiming cost of construction could rise 40%

CIF chief said he ‘misspoke’ after claiming cost of construction could rise 40%

Additional reporting by Press Association

The head of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has said he “misspoke” when he claimed new safety measures put in place across large complex construction sites could increase costs by up to 40%.

Tom Parlon, director-general of the CIF, said infrastructure projects including the National Children’s Hospital could see costs spiral even further.

Mr Parlon, who was speaking at the special Covid-19 Oireachtas committee on Tuesday, also said the new protocols could see additional costs of between 5-10% on new houses.

But speaking to Today with Sarah McInerney on Friday, he said he had “misspoke” when he estimated the increases.

“I misspoke, I should have said that productivity could be reduced by 40 per cent while severe restrictions are in place,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show.

It had not been his intention to give the incorrect impression, he added.

“I didn't clarify the situation but I'm happy to clarify it now. It wasn't my intention, that's not a CIF view. Everyone is going to be working very hard to improve on productivity.

“There won’t be a mad increase like that.”

Head of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Tom Parlon
Head of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Tom Parlon

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.

The focus of the Oireachtas Covid committee, at which he had been speaking, had been the safe reopening of the construction industry which had “gone off extremely well” added Mr Parlon.

He said he was happy to now clarify the situation.

"There needs to be collaboration between engineers, surveyors, architects," he said.

“We’re going to learn as we go along. This is an unprecedented situation.”

Mr Parlon pointed out that because of physical distancing restrictions interior work on construction sites is going to be difficult which is going to reduce productivity “considerably”.

That situation is going to apply for as long as the physical distancing restrictions remain in place, “but we don’t know when that is going to be lifted.” Mr Parlon hoped that would happen before the end of the year.

Speculation that it could take an extra three to four years for the completion of the National Children’s Hospital was not accurate, he said as it was unlikely that the physical distancing measures would continue that long.

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