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Monday, 24 January, 2000, 02:01 GMT
Builders turn to the net
Building site
Builders have a lot to gain from going online
Construction companies are set to go online and cut out inefficiencies that cost 14bn a year.

A new internet service, Build-Online.com, launched in the UK earlier this year. It is the first interactive website for the UK construction industry.

The site acts as an internet marketplace for buyers and sellers of building materials and services. It will also provide space for the designers, builders and architects involved in a given project to collaborate.

Already, experts say this could change the face of the UK construction industry.

Building revolution

Many analysts agree that the construction industry is one of the markets that has the most to gain from the internet.
web grab
Build-Online started in Ireland last year
Traditionally, a construction project involves hundreds of individuals from companies based in different cities and sometimes, even different countries. Delays and inefficiencies often arise because of difficulties in communication.

The site provides space for everyone working on a project to link together. Build-Online.com estimates that this could cut up to 30% off the cost and reduce project completion times by 15%.

Brian Moran, president and founder of Build-Online.com said: "With the construction industry accounting for 11% of the UK economy, productivity gains through e-construction will have a significant impact."

Tony Maynard, chief executive officer of National Federation of Builders, said: "E-commerce presents an opportunity which the construction industry cannot afford to ignore."

The business of Build-Online

Build-Online was founded in Ireland last year.

The company makes money by charging a fee on all transactions carried out on site.

In the first six months of business, more than 50% of Irish buyers signed up to the service.

It expect to have e-commerce transactions and business worth 3bn on its UK site this year.

Membership is free and it provides access to news and supplier catalogues.

Funding boost

Build-Online.com has already completed second round funding of $16.5 million (10 million). This is the largest venture capital investment in a European vertical business to business marketplace.

The funds will be used to drive the company's expansion across Europe.

Since the company's UK launch in January, it is managing projects worth over $200 million (125 million) online including, at present, the major redevelopment of Farmleigh House in Dublin on behalf of the Irish Government.

There are $800 million (500 million) worth of projects currently under negotiation.

Competition builds

Competition has become fierce in the online construction industry, with the global building and construction business estimated to be worth about $3.2trn annually.

The service BuildOnline.com offers is similar to that offered by Bidcom and Cephren in the US.

Cephren is the product of a merger between Blueline Online, an internet-based project collaboration company, and eBricks.com, an e-commerce company providing product and equipment sales.

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See also:

01 Nov 99 | The Economy
Bosses told 'get online or get out'
07 Dec 99 | Business
Byers has e-signs on web
07 Dec 99 | Business
EU e-commerce agreement
29 Nov 99 | Business
E-business: opportunity or peril?
03 May 99 | The Economy
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