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What Permissions and Licences You Need to Open a Construction Business in Ireland

The construction sector is blooming in Ireland. As of 2021, the share of the construction market size reached $31.8 billion. Experts forecast the continuous rise of the industry pointing at an Average annual growth rate of 4% during the 2023-2026 period.  Regardless of the sector of the construction business, opening one is a promising venue. However, it should be understood that starting a building business in Ireland requires handling plenty of legal requirements. In the following paragraphs, we’re taking a deep dive into what it takes to open a construction business in Ireland. We start with selecting the right business model and investigating licences and insurance required to run a thriving building enterprise.

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Choose How You Want to Work

There are basically two methods of running a building business in Ireland: as a self-employed person (the most popular option) or as a company (we suggest registering Ltd company to open construction business in Ireland). When it comes to making the right choice, consider the following aspects: 

  • Whether you’re planning to hire employees or not – sole traders can be employers either, however, it’s better to register as a Ltd company 
  • Whether you’re looking to expand – entrepreneurs anticipating growth should register as Limited companies and enjoy the perks of owning a company
  • Evaluate risk potential: Sole proprietors are solely liable for tax compliance and the debts of their enterprise (they will be obliged to sell their assets to pay off their debtors if the business stops generating income). If a limited liability company fails to pay its debts, the director’s private capital is inviolable and cannot be used to collect the debt.

To help you make an informed decision, check out our detailed guide on the difference between sole trader and limited company.

Select Your Construction Service Type/Activity

Focus on a specific type of activity. There are 5 key sectors of construction market in Ireland supported by various government initiatives.

Residential construction includes construction of single-family housing and multi-family housing. The sector will be supported by the government’s National Development Plan (NDP) 2021–2030 aimed at delivering new affordable homes. 

Institutional construction includes building educational buildings, religious buildings, institutional buildings, healthcare buildings research facilities. The growth of the sector is supported by the execution of healthcare and educational projects announced in the 2022 Budget and NDP. 

Energy and utility construction includes construction of electricity, power, gas, oil, telecommunications, sewage and water infrastructure. The growth of the sector is supported by the government’s Climate Action Plan. 

Commercial construction includes the construction of restaurants, hotels, retail premises, office buildings, and other commercial buildings. The sector’s growth will be supported by the government’s financial assistance to tourism and culture-related businesses introduced in the 2022 Budget. 

Infrastructure construction: rail infrastructure, road infrastructure, and other infrastructure projects. The sector will be supported by government initiatives to develop public transportation, roads, maritime transport, and regional airports reflected in NDP and 2022 Budget. 

open construction business in Ireland
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Get the NACE Code

NACE Code characterises the classification of your economic activity. Both limited liability businesses and sole traders are required to obtain and provide the NACE code, however, with specific differences to consider.  Limited liability companies provide the NACE code both to CRO during company formation process and to the Revenue when registering for tax. Sole proprietorships only provide the NACE code when registering for income tax with the Revenue. They’re not required to make filings with NACE code to CRO unless they trade under a name other than their own. In this case, they must register a business name. The NACE code is required for statistical purposes.

Register for Taxes with the Revenue

Any business registered in Ireland must register for tax. This section highlights the most common taxation types for entrepreneurs looking to open construction businesses in Ireland.

Corporation Tax for Company Owners

A corporation tax is tax levied on a company’s taxable income (revenue minus operational, marketing, general and administrative expenses, cost of goods sold, and other expenses). The current rate of corporation tax in Ireland is 12.5%. 

Income Tax for Self-employed

Income tax is a tax calculated on the income of self-employed individuals. Unlike corporation tax, all person’s income falls under income tax. Income tax is calculated at a progressive rate. The more you earn, the higher rate is applied to income. 

Value Added Tax (VAT)

VAT is a tax levied on the price of a product or service at each stage of product manufacturing, distribution, and sale to the final consumer. As for the construction business, it is generally a subject to 13.5% VAT rate. However, there are exceptions, and sometimes the tax can go up to 23%.

PAYE/PRSI for Employers

PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and PRSI (Pay-Related Social Insurance) are additional taxes that have certain differences. PAYE is a tax that is calculated from employees’ salaries. PRSI is paid per employee and is positioned as insurance. 

Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT)

RCT is a withholding tax that applies to certain payments to subcontractors in the construction, forestry, and meat-processing industry. Tax rates are 0%, 20%, and 35%.

Get the Permissions and Licences Required

From 2023, all construction workers in Ireland must register with the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI). Depending on the type of activity you choose, there are certain additional licences from regulatory bodies you’ll need to obtain. Here are a few examples.

Royal Institute of the Architects (RIAI)

As understood from the name, Royal Institute of Architects is a governmental and supportive body for architects in Ireland. It provides post-graduation training and certification for architects. All registered architects in Ireland are listed on the RIAI Register. 

Safe Electric Program

The operation of heating and electrical work in Ireland is regulated by the Register of Electrical Contractors of Ireland (RECI). If an individual or a company intends to carry out electrical work in a domestic setting, they are legally required to register with the Safe Electric program by RECI.

Engineers Ireland

Engineers in Ireland can obtain recognition of their qualifications with Engineers of Ireland. This is an authoritative body that regulates the work of local engineers providing them with not only licences needed to carry out the work but also inspiring engineers to expand their careers at home and abroad.

Obtain Insurance

Construction business is associated with plenty of risks and potential hazards. These are malfunctioning equipment, on-the-job damage or death of construction workers, vandalism, theft, and damage to your tools and equipment, etc. If you don’t have the right insurance in place, one wrong move can lead to devastating financial losses to your business. Let’s have a look at a few most common insurance types that one must obtain to open construction business in Ireland.

  • Public Liability Insurance protects from liability if a third person (other than employees) gets an injury, loss or damage as a result of your activity;
  • Employers Liability Insurance protects from liability if any of your employees sustains damage or dies during the work; 
  • Plant, Machinery, and Equipment Insurance provides cover for any loss of equipment or damage to them during the performance of work
  • Personal Accident Insurance protects from loff of income or benefits if you or your employee sustain injury that prevents you from doing your work.
how to open construction business in Ireland
Source: Unsplash

Health & Safety

Management of health and safety is a primary concern for construction business owners.

Health & Safety department carries the mission to promote positive health and safe environment within the construction sector in Ireland. It provides access to Chartered Health & Safety professionals, training to address the best health & safety practices in the construction business, updates on health, safety and well-being issues

Open Bank Account for Your Enterprise

Business account in one of local banks carries a range of benefit for Irish construction company owners. Business bank account helps entrepreneurs keep track on business transactions, obtain loans, track expenses and income and simply appear more professional in front of clients and subcontractors. If opening business bank account is a struggle, there is an easy way to conduct financial transactions using online services such as PayPal, Wise, Payoneer, etc.

Key Takeaways on How to Open Construction Business in Ireland

This blog post provides a concise step-by-step guide to help entrepreneurs open a successful construction business in Ireland. We cover important aspects such as choosing the right business model, selecting a construction service type, registering for taxes, obtaining necessary permissions and licenses, securing insurance, prioritizing health and safety, and opening a business bank account. By following these steps, aspiring construction business owners can navigate the legal landscape and increase their chances of success in Ireland’s thriving construction sector.

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