My Department monitors the cost of school building projects on an ongoing basis. School building costs, as reflected in the Department’s published basic building cost limit, fell significantly during the period of the economic downturn and took a number of years to return to a standard level. The Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland tender index also tracks tender levels in the industry.
The basic building cost reduced from €1,230 per sq. m in June 2006 to €930 per sq. m in January 2011 and increased gradually from April 2014 to December 2018 and now stands at €1,490 per sq. m, an increase of €260 over the peak levels in 2006. The bulk of the increase reflects tender prices returning to more sustainable levels compared with those during the period of the economic downturn and improvements in building standards for schools over the period. Improvements in standards include new standards for acoustics and sanitary facilities introduced in 2014, improved costs allowances for standards for roof finishes introduced in December 2018, and changes in Part L of the 2017 national building regulations to reflect the EU directive on the energy performance of buildings, that is, near zero energy buildings, NZEBs, which were also introduced in December 2018.
NZEBs are buildings that have a very high energy performance. The nearly zero or very low amount of energy required should be covered to a significant extent by energy from renewable sources, including sources produced on site or nearby. The NZEB standard will apply to all new buildings occupied after 31 December 2020. For public sector bodies, the standard applies to all new buildings owned and occupied since 31 December 2018. As with previous building regulations, there are transitional arrangements in place where buildings are occupied after these dates but work commenced prior to 31 December 2018.
My Department continues to have a strong roll-out of projects to tender and construction under the national development plan. This will continue to be the case up to 2027, with a ring-fenced capital budget of €12 billion to be spent on school buildings during that period.