Razor thin margins, stretched balance sheets: under the hood of Ireland’s biggest builders

Through careful analysis of company filings, Sean Keyes uncovers the precarious state of the Irish construction industry. Builders are forced to bid aggressively in order to win the biggest contracts. And when things go wrong, they eat the costs.

30th Jan, 2020 - 10 min read
Listen Now

General contractors — the ones whose names you see on hoardings at the biggest building sites — aren’t exactly builders. General contractors don’t dig holes, pour concrete or fix pipes. General contractors are in the business of managing risk. 

Building sites are uncertain and complex. A million things can go wrong. The general contractor’s job is to accurately forecast what will go wrong, and how much it will cost to fix it, for years into the future. If they bet correctly, and manage the job well, they get to make a small profit. 

Anyone who’s extended their kitchen knows construction costs are uncertain. On a kitchen job, you...

© 2020 Currency Media Limited