Developers warned to prepare for hard Brexit

Developers warned to prepare for hard Brexit

Developers have been warned to prepare for a hard Brexit which could impact the supply and cost of building materials in this country.

Officials from the Department of Housing have confirmed that they have written to the EU Commission in a bid to get some leeway on the importation of construction goods after Brexit given our reliance on building products that come from Britain.

However, Principal Adviser in the Department of Housing Sarah Neary said: "We are saying prepare for a hard Brexit which means you have to use a notified body that’s established in a Member State – be that in Ireland or in Europe.

Ireland is a small open economy with strong trade between ourselves and the UK in terms of construction products.

"Any change to those conditions, even the availability of goods or additional tariffs or indeed currency fluctuations translate into a knock-on effect on construction costs and we are very conscious of that."

Appearing before the Oireachtas Housing Committee, Ms Neary said that a no-deal Brexit would mean that all products imported from Britain and used by builders would have to be re-certified.

“Post Brexit, UK manufacturers, distributors and importers of construction products placing products on the Irish market will need to continue to comply with the Construction Products Regulation [CPR].

"We do not yet know what the eventual outcomes of the Brexit negotiations will be. We are nonetheless planning on the basis that the UK becomes a third country as of March 30, 2019.”

Ms Neary said that the Department has already informed key stakeholders of the difficulties that may arise around the supply of building goods and materials in the event of a hard Brexit.

She said officials have already been in contact with the EU commission to seek a separate transition period to allow builders to use products from Britain. It is hoped that such a transition period would avoid any shortages in the immediate aftermath of a no-deal Brexit.

What happens if there is a hard Brexit at the end of March? It's something that we are putting to the Commission in terms of a transition period separate from the withdrawal agreement and there is a bit of a precedent in this in that when the CPD (construction product directive) became a regulation back in 2013 there was a similar cut-off point - July 1, 2013, presented a new set of rules for construction products.

She said that when new regulations were introduced five years ago, there was a grace period when builders could still buy products as long as there was no change to the standard.

Asked directly if she though Brexit would lead to a hike in construction costs, Ms Neary said: “I don’t think we really can comment on that at the moment. We just keep monitoring the situation.”

The Committee also heard that the Department has concerns that higher net migration in the wake of Brexit would put more pressure on housing and could lead to more people becoming homeless.

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