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Navigating Construction Price Inflation: Insights for Tradesmen and Small Contractors in Ireland
Kelly Ohlmus

Navigating Construction Price Inflation: Insights for Tradesmen and Small Contractors in Ireland

Navigate Irish construction growth amid tender price inflation. Skilled labor shortage, regional variations & strategies for small contractors.

The construction industry in Ireland is in the midst of a substantial growth phase, with numerous infrastructure and building projects underway. However, amidst this positive trend, a critical challenge looms large for both clients and contractors: the impact of tender price inflation on project costs and feasibility. In this blog post, we delve into the significant insights from a recent report regarding construction price inflation, and what it signifies for small building contractors and tradesmen.


Key Takeaways

  1. Tender Price Inflation Dynamics: Ireland's construction industry is experiencing significant growth, yet the challenge of tender price inflation remains prominent. Tender prices have risen by 2.4% in the first half of 2023, with an annual increase of 6.2% over the past year.
  2. Labour Shortages' Impact: Skilled labour scarcity is now a major driver of tender price inflation, surpassing material cost concerns. The demand for skilled labour to meet construction needs is straining the market, adding pressure to project pricing.
  3. Regional Variances: Tender price inflation differs across regions. Dublin experienced a 2% inflation rate in the first half of 2023, while Leinster, Munster, and Connacht/Ulster saw increases of 3%, 3%, and 2% respectively during the same period.
  4. Navigating Small Contractor Challenges: Small building contractors and tradesmen should proactively plan for inflation in budgets, attract and retain skilled labour, optimise materials sourcing, and evaluate project feasibility considering potential cost increases. Collaboration and staying informed are vital strategies for success.


Understanding the Tender Price Inflation Landscape

According to a comprehensive report, the tender price inflation landscape in the commercial construction sector of Ireland has been a roller coaster over the past years. The Tender Price Index (TPI), which tracks construction cost inflation, indicates a 2.4% increase from 202.9 to 207.8 in the first half of 2023. This aligns with a 6.2% rise in the annual median national TPI from July 2022 to June 2023.

Tender Price Inflation Trends: Over the last couple of years, tender price inflation has shown a gradual easing. Notably, the report highlights a staggering 14% inflation peak between July 2021 and June 2022, the highest recorded over a 12-month period since 1998.

Factors at Play: While material price inflation remains a concern, it has become less of a driving factor due to stabilised supply chains and energy costs post-COVID. The real game-changer is the scarcity of skilled labour. The availability of experienced and skilled labourers is now the dominant concern, exerting additional pressure on tender pricing. The thriving economy and population growth in Ireland have fueled increased demand for new infrastructure, amplifying construction activity and subsequently, tender prices. Rising labour costs, rooted in shortages of skilled labour and wage demands, play a pivotal role in driving tender price inflation.

Interest Rates' Impact: The continued rise in interest rates has also influenced wage demands, as noted by respondents to the SCSI Tender Price Index survey. The European Central Bank's successive interest rate hikes, although showing signs of slowing down, have contributed to the overall picture of inflation.


Regional Variations in Tender Price Inflation

Dublin: In the capital city, Dublin, the report highlights a median inflation rate of 2% in the first half of 2023, a reduction from the 4% reported in the latter half of 2022.

Provinces Excluding Dublin: The trends in Leinster (excluding Dublin), Munster, and Connacht/Ulster are equally noteworthy. The median inflation increase in Leinster for the first half of 2023 stands at 3%, down from 5% reported during the latter half of 2022. For Munster, a 3% median tender rate increase in the first half of 2023 brings the latest 12-month increase to 7%. Meanwhile, Connacht/Ulster experienced a median increase of 2% in the first half of 2023, contributing to a 7% increase over the past 12 months.


Implications for Tradesmen and Small Building Contractors

For small businesses and tradesmen in the construction sector, this report serves as a valuable guidepost for navigating the current landscape:

Budget Planning: Given the upward trend in tender prices, it's crucial for tradesmen and small contractors to have a realistic budget in place. Accounting for potential inflation in project costs ensures that your bottom line remains steady.

Labour Management: The scarcity of skilled labour is a paramount concern. As a small contractor, fostering relationships with skilled tradespeople becomes even more important. Consider offering competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain talented workers.

Materials Sourcing: While material price inflation has stabilised for some components, staying updated on market trends and sourcing cost-effective, quality materials is a smart strategy. This could help offset potential increases in project costs.

Project Viability: With tender price inflation impacting feasibility, it's essential to carefully evaluate projects before committing. A detailed assessment of the project's financial viability, considering potential price increases, is imperative.

Collaboration and Networking: Engaging with industry peers, staying informed about market trends, and collaborating with other professionals can provide insights into how others are managing inflation and labour challenges.



In conclusion, the construction industry in Ireland is witnessing remarkable growth, but the challenge of tender price inflation is undeniable. For tradesmen and small contractors, adapting to these trends through strategic planning, labour management, and informed decision-making is the key to thriving in this dynamic environment. The insights provided by the report offer a roadmap to navigate these challenges effectively and ensure successful project outcomes. Remember, staying informed is the first step towards success in the face of construction price inflation.

Read SCSI Tender Price Report

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