If 2017 proves to be as successful for Donaghmore Construction Ltd as the last 12 months have been for the Northern Ireland-based company, it can look forward to the new year with the utmost confidence.
“We were delighted to win the Social Housing Award for Ballymisert Supported Housing at the 2016 Construction Excellence Awards, which were held at the Culloden Hotel, Holywood, in October,” explains Mark Currie, Managing Director. “The recognition is particularly pleasing as it reflects a tremendous team effort with everybody pulling together with one goal in mind. The success was certainly much more about everyone’s collective input rather than that of any one individual.”
Located in County Down, Ballymisert is a purpose-built supported housing scheme providing state-of-the-art accommodation for 21 residents with mental health needs. The development also features offices/staff accommodation and a common room – designed to promote social interaction amongst residents. The housing is set within a beautifully landscaped site, providing further opportunities for recreation.
Delivered in 14 months, the Ballymisert scheme was designed with the needs and requirements of its future residents at the heart of every decision that was made. Medical and construction experts, including Donaghmore Construction’s supply chain partners, joined forces to work together from inception through to completion in order to optimise best the end result. Their collaborative endeavour led to the creation of a state-of-the-art facility that has been hailed as a phenomenal success by both Triangle, Beacon and the families/friends of those that now reside there.
“We currently have 486 units on the ground over 12 sites in terms of private and social housing, with secured bidder status on another 163 over three sites. We’ve got a really strong pipeline of work moving forward, not only in 2017 but also into 2018.”
Mark Currie, Managing Director
Following the success at the Construction Excellence Awards with Ballymisert Supported Housing, the scheme continued to pick up prestigious accolades in recognition of its excellence. It was recently named ‘Best UK Social Housing Scheme’ and ‘Best Sustainable Residential Supported Housing Scheme’ at the 2016 ‘Build’ Sustainable Building Awards, which are focused on rewarding the efforts of firms that have helped shape the works of eco-friendly and sustainable buildings across the globe.
Kaven Cooper, Awards Co-ordinator, said: “With these awards, we pay tribute to the outstanding firms who are dedicated to supporting the environment and all those who live in it. I am proud to be able to turn the spotlight on these exemplary firms and would like to wish them continued success in the future.”
For his part, Mr Currie was absolutely delighted with the award recognition. “It was great to hear such positive feedback from the judges, especially as they highlighted the holistic nature of our approach in order to tackle a wide range of issues, not to mention the fact that we worked in partnership with the client and the design team to deliver the project in a manner that ensured that the general public weren’t adversely affected in any way. The judges also praised the way we were able to adapt to change and our ability to value engineer the scheme to not only provide savings but also deliver a better long-term product for the client with much improved whole life-cycle costs.”
Although 2016 proved to be a bumper year for awards, Donaghmore Construction is no stranger to such recognition having also won the Social Housing Award at the 2015 Construction Excellence Awards for its work on the Peter’s Hill development in Belfast, which consisted of the construction of 13 supported living apartments, communal areas and staff facilities. The scheme met Secured By Design accreditation, Lifetime Homes and Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3. A Choice Housing Sheltered Dwelling accommodation was located within the existing Lime Court complex and the original entrance road continued to be used by occupants and staff throughout the works.
Donaghmore Construction was also shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Achieving Excellence in Partnering Award’ for the Peter’s Hill development, recognising the distinguished collaborative working approach undertaken on the scheme by the client, the design team and the company’s team.
The multi-award winning success of the Ballymisert and Peter’s Hill developments has its origins in the strong emphasis on quality that has been inherent in Donaghmore Construction since its creation in 1977 by Mark Currie’s father, Brian, and uncle, Raymond, meaning that it is a second generation business. In terms of the areas that the company now covers, it operates across Northern Ireland, mainland UK and the Republic of Ireland in a wide range of sectors, including private housing, social housing, education, health, commercial and civil engineering. 45 staff support its activities.
On the back of the success of the Peter’s Hill and Ballymisert schemes, social housing is proving to be a particularly promising growth area for Donaghmore Construction with several other schemes due to commence in the Belfast area. “We currently have 486 units on the ground over 12 sites in terms of private and social housing, with secured bidder status on another 163 over three sites,” says Mr Currie. “We’ve got a really strong pipeline of work moving forward, not only in 2017 but also into 2018.”
Despite the positivity associated with Donaghmore Construction’s healthy-looking order book, Mr Currie is also mindful of the challenges that lie ahead. “As the construction industry emerges from recession, the rising market has implications regarding the increasing cost of labour and materials. This is something we’re looking at closely to ensure that the prices we’re providing have the longevity to carry us through the next couple of years. We do have some challenging market conditions to contend with and coming out of a recession is always a risky time. We also hope that the current currency issue following the Brexit referendum proves to only be a temporary situation. The key is to not get too carried away and to continually gradually grow the business in a controlled manner”.
“With the wider skills shortage, the issue is all the more challenging as there has been a significant downturn in the number of young people considering the construction industry as a career choice. As a result, there has been a real dearth of numbers within a wide range of construction professions, from quantity surveyors and engineers through to bricklayers and plasterers. In an attempt to address the issue, we offer a series of apprenticeships and conduct talks in schools to try and encourage students to think about construction as a viable career option due to the opportunities the sector is offering, both now and in the future as it continues to progress on an upward trajectory. We feel it’s important to grow our own to support the ongoing development of the business in the months and years ahead.”
While resolving the skills shortage issue will be a long-term objective, in the more immediate future Donaghmore Construction is keen to make the most of the opportunities that 2017 are offering the business.
“For the year ahead we’re forecasting turnover growth and increased profitability,” concludes Mr Currie. “We’re confident that the sector will become increasingly buoyant, particularly as we’re starting to see the private sector gaining some traction, whereas in the past few years it’s been the public sector that has been all but carrying the construction industry. There is definite increased activity in the private sector, which is clearly visible in the private housing sites that we are seeing pop up all over the place.”
With a growing number of opportunities coming through, Donaghmore Construction looks particularly well placed to keep its forward momentum going in 2017. It also wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if the company added to its already impressive list of awards at the same time.