“IT’S TIME TO BREAK WITH THE FAILED BOOM AND BUST CYCLE OF THE PAST”
CHARTERED QUANTITY SURVEYOR MICHEÁL MAHON HAS BIG PLANS FOR HIS TERM AS SCSI PRESIDENT
Only a few weeks into his new role as President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCSI) Ireland, Wexford-born Micheál Mahon set out his stall by stating that the country needs a sustainable construction and property industry if progress is to be made in addressing the housing crisis and our infrastructural deficit. Breaking with the failed boom and bust cycle of the past is also crucial, he added, if the government is serious about tackling the housing crisis.
Micheál is well placed to comment on the industry. For over three decades, he’s been working as a chartered quantity surveyor and has been running his own business, MGM Partnership, for the past 12 years. “Prior to that I was working with some large QS practices and I’ve also worked for several contractors throughout my career. That broad mix of QS and project management has served me well.” Micheál has seen some serious peaks and troughs in the industry over his 30 years.
“We thought it was great when the fax came in! But yes, I’ve experienced significant changes in the industry over the years. Back in 2009 and up to 2014, we didn’t have the money to embark on a serious public housebuilding programme, even though we would have gotten good value back then. With public sector investment tapering off today, now’s the time when we would probably get best value in the public sector in terms of tender prices.
There are certain sectors of the industry where there will be reduced or little activity for the next couple of years and that means there will be more demand from building contractors for work across the public sector. Now’s the time to embark on a public housebuilding programme.” It’s the right time for the government to examine the balance of the overall construction sector output, says Micheál.
“We need to ensure there is an appropriate public sector investment as required. We’ve seen when the industry goes through a serious trough; it takes a long time to build it back up and build that capability again. It needs to be kept at an even keel.” Are the powers that be taking heed of his advice? “I think so. It’s something I’ve been taking up with policy makers and I think it’s being taken on board.
I’m absolutely unapologetic in saying that the country needs a viable and productive construction industry and I’m trying to get that message across. We were so politically unpalatable before; as an industry you couldn’t even be seen to talk to the construction industry after the last crash. I think that people are realising that the country really needs a sustainable construction industry.”
Last year, ICIM spoke to Conor O’Connell, CIF Southern Regional Director, about the lack of infrastructure investment in regional Ireland and how that inaction was hampering current and future growth. A CIF survey at the time showed that 75% of CIF members were not confident that infrastructure projects would materialise in their regions. Conor’s view was that project delays were down to several issues – funding and planning issues, lack of finance, procurement issues and legal objections. Michael agrees.
“I think public procurement is partially responsible for lack of investment outside Dublin. It takes a long time to get through and that’s something else we’re talking to policymakers about. It’s extremely hard to generalise though. Certainly there are areas where infrastructure could and should be put in place and I’m also aware of areas where this need has been identified but there have been delays in getting projects implemented. It should be assessed on a needs basis but the public procurement system hasn’t been favourable in terms of getting things done promptly.”
Read the full article in Issue 5 of Irish Construction Industry Magazine
Denise Maguire Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine