Brexit uncertainty is posing significant problems for large parts of the construction industry here, a new survey has found.

Two out of every five companies questioned confirmed Brexit will have an immediate impact on their business, while three quarters said they have done no impact assessment. 

The survey also found that many construction firms believe any Brexit scenario is likely to result in increased costs or delays.

The research was carried out among Construction Industry Federation members during December and January by the organisation as well as PwC.

It found the industry is struggling to plan for Brexit, with 72% of construction businesses here saying they have not undertaken any form of Brexit impact assessment or 'Day 1' preparation plan.

Nearly half of respondents expect the cost of doing business to increase by 5-10% in a no-deal scenario.

The biggest concern, felt by 80% of respondents, is that the cost of materials will rise in a post-Brexit environment.

Most of the businesses questioned expect supply chain difficulties and delays will be their biggest challenge after Britain leaves the EU, with only a fifth of those surveyed believing ports and airports will be ready on April 1st.

More than half said they have not considered the impact additional customs duties and administrative requirements will mean for their businesses while almost three quarters have limited or no customs experience, the survey found.

When it comes to engaging with suppliers and subcontractors to determine their exposure to Brexit and supply chain implications, only 8% said that they have, with a further 42% saying they've had only limited engagement. 

A little over a third have considered the impact Brexit will have on their existing contracts, while just over a half have performed no review whatsoever of the impact it will have on their contracting arrangements.

A quarter of those questioned said they have concerns about the ability to source talent post-Brexit, with a similar percentage predicting that the biggest people impact on their business will be restrictions on the free movement of people to and from the UK. 

"This survey provides evidence that construction companies, like other sectors, are struggling to plan for Brexit," said Tom Parlon, Director General of the CIF.

"Many companies were already struggling with increasing input and labour costs with minimal cost recovery and Brexit, if no plans are in place, will add to the costs."

"Delays in the delivery of materials also have the potential to lead to penalties and additional costs that contractors and their subcontractors could struggle to address."

"With housebuilding so tenuous outside the Greater Dublin Area, even minimal Brexit-driven increases could be the difference between securing development finance or otherwise."

Despite the worries though, more than three in every four companies said that they are not currently looking to diversify into other territories as a result of Brexit, while one in ten stated that it will have a positive impact leading to growth.

When it comes to those opportunities, the survey found that construction businesses here expect increased activity due to fewer UK construction firms being present and competing in the market, as well as in the predicted influx of businesses from the UK post Brexit.

42% of respondents said that their firm trades with the UK market, and a majority said they will increase or hold their physical presence there post-Brexit.