With long-term projects up and running in Donegal, Antrim and Monaghan and a healthy order book in front of them, County Tyrone headquartered Lowry Construction continue to lead the way when it comes to delivering high-quality, community-critical residential and commercial building projects on both sides of the border. Health & Safety manager Lee Williamson kindly took time out from his busy schedule to provide Building Ireland with a brief update.
Lowry Construction’s innovative, time-sensitive and value-added building services are in big demand right now and this is largely down to the company’s stellar track record of invariably getting all projects across the line to industry-leading standards … safely, professionally, to programme and within budget. By consistently delivering the goods, Lowry benefit from a healthy volume of repeat business from satisfied customers.
At the time of writing, the trusty Lowry team were engaged on three invaluable social housing schemes in counties Donegal and Antrim as well as preparing to embark on a major commercial project for regular client Monaghan County Council in Newbliss.
“Last year, we finished two social housing schemes for Monaghan County Council in Clones and Scotstown,” reveals Health & Safety manager Lee Williamson. “The Clones Renewal Scheme consisted of 21 units at six different locations in the town, while there were 32 properties in the Luí na Gréine scheme in Scotstown.”
These two projects in North Monaghan represented Lowry Construction’s first venture into social housing in the Republic and the results in terms of providing high-quality homes ideal for modern living were outstanding. “We started those in 2019 and the got disrupted by Covid and an interruption in materials supply but we brought them to a successful finish in 2022 and all parties were extremely satisfied with the end result,” says Lee.
“The commercial project we’re going to be working on for Monaghan County Council is a new Digital Enterprise Hub in Newbliss on the site of the old council offices at the bottom of the village. It’s essentially a repurposing of the existing building. We’re hoping to get started there in June / July and it’s a 15-month programme.”
Ticking all the boxes, Lowry Construction’s workmanship is second to none, while their safety record is also exemplary. “Ultimately it all comes down to maintaining clear lines of communication, co-operating fully with the client and planning ahead to make absolutely certain that you are keeping everybody safe,” notes their unswerving Health & Safety manager.
Regarding the social housing projects Lowry are working on for Donegal County Council at present, Lee points out that they are two decidedly-different schemes, which helps keep things interesting (and also underlines the versatility of the Castlederg-based main contractor): “Ballybofey is 19 units – a mixture of two-bed and three-bed apartments – which are being built to cater for senior citizens.
“Flexibility, access and security are key considerations here and all the homes are going to be sustainable, energy efficient and fully adaptable and futureproofed for any adjustments that might need to be made down the line.”
The development on Trusk Road will comprise 16 two-bedroom apartments and three three-bedroom apartments, including a communal facility and an enclosed private residential courtyard, complete with landscaped area and a new access road.
“Lifford, meanwhile, is a climate adaptive social housing scheme of 29 homes built using traditional construction techniques to deliver a low carbon, socially sustainable development, including self-managing native wildflower amenity spaces,” Lee continues. “Proximity of the Cabhsa Chluain Lao scheme to the town centre further promotes and practically implements climate action and active travel initiatives.
“There’s huge demand for social housing in Donegal at the moment and the real beauty of these two projects is that they are very different and therefore provide the Council with a good variety of stock to offer people. They are not just putting up houses for the sake of it but are thinking about what will give them the best options to cater for single-parent families, the elderly who need adaptability and one-level living, and everybody else, too.”
On behalf of repeat client Apex Housing Association, which provides affordable, social and supported housing across Northern Ireland, Lowry Construction is close to completion of 28 truly spectacular apartments in North County Antrim. “These ones are classified as being for over 55s and they are again adaptable, flexible, low-maintenance units located in an idyllic setting in Ballycastle on the north coast, with a magnificent view out over the Atlantic,” Lee enthuses.
“They are going to be finished this summer and they would be very attractive even if they were being built for the private market.”
A vastly-experienced, highly-adaptable building contractor boasting a wealth of experience in successfully completing all types of private and public sector residential and commercial projects, including social housing, education, retail, healthcare, community and private housing developments, Lowry Construction generates direct full-time employment for a team of 50 experienced and highly-skilled personnel as well as an extended network of tried and trusted subcontractors.
“It’s still very much a family-run business providing a personal touch and all our staff have been with us for a long time. We have a low turnover of staff, which is a big help in today’s climate, and our subcontractors also tend to stick with us.”
Lee places great stock on the value of collaboration and cooperation in achieving an optimal finished product. “Every job will have unique considerations, be that space or time or cost, and it is important to work closely with the client and consultants and architects to make sure you overcome all challenges,” he states. “We like to work with everybody and get the job done so that we can walk away from every job with all parties happy and knowing that we did an excellent job. You can’t beat the peace of mind that comes with that.
“Social housing gives our business a very good platform and you can then fit your commercial jobs in around that. We do like to take on a nice mix of work and the commercial jobs are important to us, too. For example, last year we completed an extensive refurbishment of the Spar store in Castlederg, which more than doubled the size of the existing shop, with all work carried out in a live setting as the business remained open. We were very pleased with how that worked out and the client was happy, too, which is obviously always nice to hear.”
On the commercial side of things, Lowry Construction have built community centres, warehouses, factories and church halls and have worked for the likes of Kerry Foods, AJ Power and a variety of clubs. In high demand across the board, both North and South, the future looks bright for this exceptional contracting firm:
“We have a very busy 2023 in front of us, which is promising because construction is facing a lot of uncertainty at the moment between materials, prices and labour shortages,” Lee concludes. “But we are in a strong position and are in a good place to work both sides of the border with excellent relationships built up, a solid reputation, a good supply chain and good labour supply.
“But we’re not taking anything for granted and are always thinking of the future as well as the present. That’s why we have seven apprentices on board at the moment to make sure we play our part in training up the skilled tradesmen and construction experts of the future.”
Lowry Construction Ltd.,
30 Carncorn Road,
Tel: 028 8167 0263
Fax: 028 8167 1227
Email: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, August 2023, Vol 9 No 8