TAMS reference costs had once upon a time come very close to actual building costs, but since the hyperinflation of building costs they have failed to come close. TAMS III, launched last year, saw an increase in reference costs of 5-15% on specific items and areas, but as we have reported here in the Irish Farmers Journal’s buildings pages, concrete costs have increased 13% in some areas in a single calendar year and are now over 40% higher than pre pandemic levels with no sign of stabilising.

So, has the increase in reference costs with TAMS III covered these increased construction costs? Below we take a look at some of our recent farm buildings features and see.

Fitzgerald calf house

The Fitzgeralds in Co Waterford welcomed the Irish Farmers Journal to their yard back in February to check out their new 170-calf house that was filling up rapidly with the farm in the thick of calving. The six-bay long shed had a mix of some penning, with some bedded training pens, a mix of wet/bedded areas for larger groups of calves as well as a calf kitchen and storage area. The job was completed with the addition of a JFC Evolution S4 calf feeder with three stations.

The total footprint of the building extended to 458.24m², while the total cost of the shed came to €136,380 with the auto calf feeder coming in at €19,250 (all excl VAT). At a square footage price, this equates to €297.61/m². The reference cost for a calf shed by TAMS standards currently sits at €226.69/m². The difference between the actual cost and the reference cost in this case is 31%.

On a money basis, the Department states that the Fitzgerald’s could have built this shed for €103,878 + VAT, €32,501.57 less than what it actually cost. It’s a similar case with the automatic calf feeder, which holds a reference cost of €12,145 + VAT with an actual cost listed above of €19,250, a differential of €7,105 or 58.5%.

The Maguire Pedigree shed in Co. Monaghan

Combining the calf shed and auto feeder together, the Fitzgerald development is running €39,606 over reference costs, or 34%. By being unable to claim grant aid on this €39,606, the farm is losing out on €15,842.40 at a 40% rate or €23,763 at a 60% grant rate.

  • Total actual construction costs: €155,630.
  • TAMS reference costs: €116,024.
  • Difference: €39,606.
  • Percentage difference: 34%.
  • Loss to farmer: @60% grant rate: €23,763.
  • @40% grant rate: €15,842.
  • Maguire pedigree shed

    Niall and Simone Maguire featured in our recent infrastructure focus with their impressive bespoke shed geared towards calving down pedigree ET calves and accommodation for both show stock and bulls in preparation for sale.

    The shed comprised of a three bay tank with a bedded lie back in three of the bays, and the final two bays comprising of four calving pens with a narrow feed passage for access. There is a covered feed canopy running along one side of the shed. The different areas of the shed each have separate reference costs so we will calculate them below.

  • Slatted tank: Using the TAMS excel spreadsheet for calculating the costings for tanks, the three-bay tank with an external agitation point comes to €15,892 + VAT.
  • Slatted area: 58.032m² slatted floor area @ €252.47/m² = €14,651.33.
  • Lie back area: 73m² lie back area @ €182.34/m²= €13,310.82.
  • Feed passage (external canopy and internal passage): 70.8m² feed passage @ €175.68/m²= €12,43.8
  • Calving pens: 73.87m² of calving pen area @ €290.73/m²= €21,476.22.
  • Ancillary concrete: 86.76m² ancillary concrete @€31.82/m² =€2,760.70.
  • Adding all these costs together, we see that the total TAMS reference cost comes to €80,529.07 + VAT. In a turn of events, the Maguires managed to complete the build at a cost of €74,000 + VAT, some €6,529.07 below the reference cost and will be able to claim the full grant rate on the total costs.

    The reference cost also does not include a calving gate installed, making the build even better value.

  • Total actual construction costs: €74,000.
  • TAMS reference costs: €80,529.07.
  • Difference in €: -€6,529.07.
  • Percentage difference: -8%.
  • Loss to farmer @60% grant rate: N/A.
  • @40% grant rate:N/A.
  • What does this mean?

    Looking at the above two examples, we have a tale of two halves. Both are high spec units finished to a quality standard. The calf housing is coming in at 34% above reference costs while the pedigree shed is coming in at 8% lower. The generous allowances for calving pens is likely helping the reference cost of the pedigree shed, but the Maguires have no doubt gotten value on the build.

    The calf housing on the Fitzgerald farm is similar in price, if not slightly below common prices I have seen in recent months, where a well spec’d shed with an automatic calf feeder is coming in at €800-€1,000 per calf.

    It’s simply a case of the reference costs needing to be increased for both the shed and the feeder, which is grossly under priced at €12,145 for a three-station feeder.

    Department promises

    The Department, in talking to the Irish Farmers Journal, has said that current building costs are being reviewed based on costs submitted by farmers and will look at reference costs in the latter half of the year. The above examples show that while the increase has sufficiently covered costs for some builds, it has drastically fallen short on others.