Cautious optimism from construction sector at GMIT conference

The over-riding message from the 4th annual Construction Management Conference in GMIT this week was one of cautious optimism for the industry, and a broad welcome for the new range of regulations.

Several hundred delegates attended the event including architects, engineers, contractors, surveyors, property professionals, academics, and students in 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 per cent 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.”

The conference was hosted by the GMIT Department of Building and Civil Engineering and Chaired and organised by lecturer Martin Taggart.

Opening the event, Mary Rogers, Head of the GMIT Building and 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 per cent this year on last, while applications for the honours degree in Architectural Technology are up 43 per cent.

“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”.

Two Engineering research students Eimear Hassett and Jan Gottsche each presented their research on sustainability energy projects at today’s conference.

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.

Donal Crowley of Roadstone Wood and Ciaran Murtagh, of Shay Murtagh Precast (GMIT graduate ) talks about innovation in the use of concrete. Tom De Paor, architect on the new Solus Cinema project in Galway city, demonstrated the versatility of concrete as a structural and architectural material.


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