Economy & Politics

Safety will have to be paid in construction

The new measures imposed on staff on construction sites are paid cash by contractors who had not included these costs in their quotes. But beyond this difficulty, the sector fears for deadlines and falling orders.

The new measures imposed on staff on construction sites are paid cash by contractors who had not included these costs in their quotes. But beyond this difficulty, the sector fears for deadlines and falling orders.

(pj with Thomas KLEIN) “We are now again close to 100% recovery.” An assessment that can (re) give a smile to Pol Faber, secretary general of the Grouping of building and public works entrepreneurs. Three weeks after the lifting of containment for construction sites, rare are the sites which have not found the construction teams. It must be said that companies have done everything to ensure that construction sites resume quickly, and this in accordance with the required security measures.

Even LCGB president Patrick Dury agrees: “We regularly visit our delegates on site. We note that the regulations are generally respected. Protective equipment is available everywhere, ”recognizes the union leader.

Corona-Virus, Wiedereröffnung der Baustellen, Bau, Baustellen, Ban de Gasperich, Foto: Guy Wolff / Luxemburger Wort

If the vast majority of construction sites have actually taken over in Luxembourg, “we are unfortunately working with negative margins today”, Jean-Marc Kieffer, president of the group of entrepreneurs, revealed on Monday and explains why.

But these new security measures have and will come at a price. According to the Entrepreneurs’ Group, the cost of an intervention would climb 10% in the building.

And Pol Faber to detail: “It starts in the morning. Not everyone is allowed to change in the same room. So more locker rooms had to be installed. The workers must have masks, disinfect their hands, make detours to respect the distance, get into separate vehicles. In addition, many companies have set up a cleaning service on construction sites to continuously disinfect facilities or tools. At the end of the day, around an hour of productivity is lost ”.

But this is not the only additional cost that companies face, underlines Marc Giorgetti. The director of the company Félix Giorgetti thus recalls that he, like his competitors, had to pay social costs for all employees during the stoppage of construction. “That alone represents an average of 1,400 euros per employee.”

The companies also had to pay the rental costs of the construction machinery which had been idle for six weeks or the unoccupied bungalows, as well as the costs linked to the protective measures themselves. An example: even if the government proposed five masks per employee on the takeover, Giorgetti has already paid 100,000 euros in mask invoices for its workers.

Today, entrepreneurs fear that they will have to sit on these unexpected costs when proposing certain quotes. “Unlike a hairdresser, we cannot simply add 10% to the bill because the current projects are based on pre-crisis contracts”, translates Pol Faber. Future contracts should naturally reflect these additional costs from the start. In fact, construction prices should increase, and therefore probably have an impact on already very high property prices …

Little margin

In the European average, the profit margins of the Luxembourg construction industry have so far been around 3.3%. There is therefore hardly any room for maneuver. “If the costs for security against covid-19 are not covered by the State or by customers, some projects will not be profitable,” points out the Group of entrepreneurs.

Moreover, the structure is already negotiating with the government on the assistance to be given to the sector. Just as she approached the Minister of Public Works, François Bausch, to demand an extension of the deadlines for construction projects signed before the epidemic. Indeed, many contracts signed with promoters, specify the imperative dates for the progress of the works, under penalty of penalty. “Initially, we should obtain a tolerance in the calendar of the building sites to leave for the State”, envisages Pol Faber. With the hope that a regulation comes to fix this same generosity on the sites linked to private initiatives.

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