Tag Archives: building services

Can we cope with an uplift?

While building services has been wishing for a business upturn for far too long, now that it has begun to happen (in some sectors at least), new challenges are emerging.

Companies that survived the construction industry collapse did so by reassessing their business plans, streamlining their management and operational structures and, more than anything else, by down-sizing.

Many of those companies are now experiencing an uplift, not just in enquiries but in projects awarded. This is especially apparent in the commercial sector where renovation, refurbishment and replacement has resulted in a measurable increase in business.

Having downsized/trimmed overheads – especially staff numbers – some companies are now faced with the dilemma of being short-staffed. How about that for irony?

The challenge is, do they risk taking on extra staff? Even if they do, where will they find the suitable personnel? Far too many of the sector’s best-qualified and experienced people are now working abroad.

How the industry responds to this, and other challenges related to this relative upturn in the economy, will determine the future of the business.


GAA best network in United Arab Emirates


Aaron Reilly, Building Services Engineer, Mercury Engineering, Middle East Branch

Fast forward five years – I’m married to an Offaly Rose, we have a beautiful one year old daughter, and I am working for Mercury Engineering (Middle East Branch) on the Four Seasons Hotel, one of the most prestigious hotel developments on the new Bahrain Bay.

Things have definitely changed for the better over the last five years but none of it came easy … the receding hairline and ever-multiplying gray hairs are testimony to the everyday challenges one experiences out in the Middle East as a mechanical engineer.

The working days and week tend to be that little bit longer out here, starting at 7am and finishing around 6pm. Depending on what project you’re on, be prepared for a lengthy commute, an additional 80mins, with alternate five day/six-day weeks. The Middle East is probably one of the only areas in the world were you could work as part of a design team where each member is from a different continent or country. As great as this is, it does pose some very difficult communication barriers that add to the everyday stresses.

As Dubai and the UAE overall is a melting pot for different nationalities with different work ethics, religions and customs, it takes a while to adjust and understand individual roles and the dynamics of the team. Anyone who has been under pressure to meet specific targets or deadlines during the holy month of Ramadan will understand this.

It’s 45ºC, 21% relative humidity, my shirt is stuck to my back as I stroll through the street looking for a place to eat, I’ve no accommodation or job, my money is running out and my closest friends and family are 3,680kms away back home in Ireland. This is how things were during my first few days after landing in Dubai, UAE.

With all the different nationalities and different standards being used, one thing remains at the forefront of every project, sustainability. One of the biggest examples of this would be Masdar City, one of the world’s first zero-carbon cities, which is set to house 50,000 people and is located in the Emirate of

Abu Dhabi. The desert city is designed to be powered entirely by renewable energy, including solar and wind power. However, despite the challenge of long hours, demanding schedules and the high pressure, working in the Middle East brings many opportunities. These include possible involvement in everything from seven-star hotel projects through to record-breaking shipping ports and massive oil and gas projects. When working for a company such as Mercury this also means career progression is never far away … oh, and the fact that we pay zero tax is a small incentive!

Nor is it all work and no play. Dubai boasts some of the longest, cleanest beaches in the world. There is an abundance of five star hotels, restaurants and water parks, not to mention the sun 365 days a year. It really is a diamond in the rough, where my family and I have made our home for the foreseeable future.

We’re most definitely not alone. The number of Irish expats currently living or based here in Dubai, or in the surrounding Emirates, is so vast it’s incredible. More and more Irish businesses are getting involved throughout the Middle East and it is apparent that the gem of Dubai, and the perks of working and living here, is no longer a secret. The thriving Irish community is also present in the ever-expanding Dubai Celts, who uphold all the traditions associated with the GAA.

My one piece of advice for anyone thinking of making the transition from home to the Middle East is make it your business to get in touch with the local GAA club. It was one of the first things I did when I got here, and I’ve never looked back. I’m no longer an active member, but the friends I‘ve made and the support network it provides is invaluable.

The Middle East still presents plenty of opportunities for young engineers, so once you are prepared to work hard, you will not regret your decision to come here.


Short Guide to Relevant Contracts Tax (commonly known as RCT or C45 tax)

Pat Egan

Therefore, if you are employing subcontractors, or you are being employed as a subcontractor, it will almost definitely affect you. It also applies to non-resident contractors and subcontractors carrying out work in this country. You can be both a main contractor and a subcontractor. Failure to operate the system properly can, and does, lead to large penalties and interest being applied if audited.

Changes – Since 1 January 2012 there have been major changes in the way the RCT system operates. All transactions must now be carried out through the Revenue Online Service (ROS). The main deduction rate is 20% and not 35% as it previously was. Tax withheld is offset against your returns as they are filed and no refunds are given until all your returns, including your income tax or corporation tax returns, are filed

VAT and RCT – If you are a subcontractor you should not charge VAT on your invoice to the main contractor. The invoice issued should replicate a normal VAT invoice but without a VAT amount being added. It should carry the endorsement that VAT on the supply is to be accounted for by the main contractor. You must register for VAT if your turnover is above, or will be above, €37,500 in any 12-month period. Even though  you do not charge VAT to the main contractor, providing you are registered you may reclaim VAT incurred by you on business expenses.

Local Property Tax and Tax Clearance – As many contractors rely on Tax Clearance Certificates to obtain contracts, they should be aware that failure to pay the new Local Property Tax will affect their tax clearance status. It will also delay any possible RCT refunds at year end, and result in their Income Tax Return being deemed to be filed late, thereby incurring late filing surcharges.

Quick guide to RCT operation                                                                                                                              — All transactions with Revenue must be conducted electronically through ROS. Therefore all principals not using the services of a tax agent (accountant/ tax advisor) must be registered for ROS;

— The current electronic system commenced on 1 January 2012, at which point the previous system of RCT Certs and C2s became obsolete;

— There are now three rates of tax – 0%: This mainly applies to traders with a good tax record over the last three years. Foreign traders who can supply a letter from the foreign tax authorities confirming a good tax compliance record over a number of years may qualify for 0% rate; 20%: This applies to tax-registered traders without any major tax problems but without the good three year tax history; 35%: Mainly unregistered traders or subcontractors with compliance issues, outstanding returns, etc. Principal contractors should ensure that they identify all subcontractors and must register each  contract online before commencement. We recommend obtaining PPS + copy of D/licence or passport + proof of address as standard.

— Additional information needed to register a subcontract online is subcontractor’s business name if different, country of residence and tax number in foreign country if foreign-registered, subcontractor’s phone number, start date and end date (or estimated end-date) of contract;

— Each separate contract must be notified;

— Contracts in place before 1 January 2012 must also be registered online;

— Subsequent contracts with the same subcontractor must be notified unless they are an ongoing contract;

• A contract is an ongoing contract if the terms do not change, the parties to the contract do not change, and if moving sites the subcontractor does not have to submit a new tender;

— If there have been no payments in the previous year a new contract notification must be filed;

— Before making a payment a principal contractor must notify Revenue online of the payment and will in turn receive a notification advising the rate of deduction to make;

— The principal must give the subcontractor a copy of the Revenue Deduction Authorisation received from ROS;

— If you are a subcontractor you should ensure that the principal gives you a copy of the deduction notification or similar document when paying you. This is to ensure that the tax deduction has been notified to Revenue;

— Before completing their periodic RCT Return a principal can view his deduction summary online, make any amendments necessary, and then file online. If there are no amendments to be made there is no need to file a return, it will be deemed to be filed;

— There is no annual return for RCT;

— All businesses can now view their current deduction rate and seek a review of that rate through the RCT section of their local tax office;

— Subcontractors will automatically have the withholding tax credited against tax liabilities outstanding, or as they arise. Revenue will issue a statement of account to you and repayment will only be made after the end of the year, and only after all returns are filed and tax paid or offset.

This article is for general advice and guidance only. You should always seek professional advice particular to your circumstances. For further comprehensive information rethe RCT visit revenue.ie, select Taxes and Duties, selectRelevant Contract Tax.

Code of Practice SR 50-2 for building services

NSAI has just published SR 50-2 Code of Practice for Building Services Part 2 Thermal Solar Systems. These guidelines were established to elaborate on the requirements for solar water heating systems, not directly addressed by Part L of the Building Regulations.

The guidelines are intended to assist providers and specifiers of solar water heating systems in the interpretation of the requirements, and to provide guidance as to how the requirements should be addressed.

This document was developed by a working group of representatives from NSAI Agrément, the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

Copies can be purchased from NSAI Standard Sales at Tel: 01 – 857 6730; email: info@standards.ie

CIBSE Golf Outing

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (Republic of Ireland Region) annual golf outing this year is a social event and is aimed at generating funds for the very busy programme in 2012-13 for the Irish Region. CIBSE would again appreciate your support in sponsoring a team to make the outing an enjoyable and successful day. In light of the prevailing economic circumstances,  CIBSE has maintained the reduced entry fees again this year.

Date                                                                                                                                                                          Friday 7 September, 2012

Venue                                                                                                                                                      Edmondstown Golf Club, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.

Tee Times                                                                                                                                                                   12.30 pm – 3.00 pm

Meal/Prizes                                                                                                                                                                Dinner on completion of golf followed by presentation of prizes at 8pm

Entry Fees                                                                                                                                                                  Golf only — €340 per team
Golf & Dinner — €490 per team
Dinner only €50 per person

Golf Competition                                                                                                                                               Four-person team event scramble competition for the PJ Doyle Trophy.

Declan Kissane
Unitherm Heating Systems
Tel: 01 – 610 9153

Broderick is new BTU Captain

Dave Cranston and Gerry Tobin proving that you don't have to win prizes to enjoy BTU outings!

Given the long-standing contribution Vincent Broderick has made to the success of the BTU – both personally and with the support of Potterton Myson Ireland (PMI) – it is fitting that he has been made Captain for 2012.

Among other things, PMI has always sponsored the BTU tee-shirts when competing in the Nationals and the expectation among members is that Vincent will produce something special for this year’s competition.

Outings for the year are as follows:
7/8/9 June – Nationals, Wychwood Park;
Thursday 14 June – Newlands;
Friday 13 July – Hermitage;
Friday 14 September – Balbriggan;
Friday 19 October – Delgany;
Friday 30 November – Xmas
outing. Venue to be decided.

New members welcome
Applications for membership of the BTU Golfing Society are now being considered. If you are involved in building services, then you are eligible to join. In return for an annual subscription, members get to play at subsidised rates at the regular outings, and get an opportunity to network with fellow-industry colleagues. New company and individual membership packages are on offer.

For details contact Dave Harris. Tel: 087 – 256 7985; email: dharris@harrisheating.ie