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Start of work at Goathill in July 2019

A Stornoway building company has won a major industry award for a housing development in the town. 

O’Mac Construction Ltd. picked up the accolade at the Federation of Master Builders’s 2023 Scotland Master Builder Awards, held at the Radisson Blu in Edinburgh and hosted by comedian Stuart Mitchell on Friday 9 June. They will now be entered into the UK national Master Builder Awards, sponsored by Isuzu

The awards recognise excellence in Scotland’s small and medium-sized construction companies and are run by the FMB, the largest trade association in the UK construction sector.

O’Mac Construction scooped the Commercial or Public Sector Project award for Goathill Housing Development, an initiative of the Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) that has brought 74 affordable homes to Stornoway’s Goathill Farm.

The project aimed to increase the amount of quality but affordable rented and shared equity housing on Lewis, reducing migration to the Scottish mainland and supporting the local economy.

Part of the vast Sinclair Avenue development when completed 

The development also includes a 52-bed care home and 50 additional houses with extra care facilities. These were constructed by builders McLaughlin & Harvey, and sharing the site with another contractor was only one of the logistical challenges faced by O’Mac.

The builders had to tackle the supply chain issues and soaring costs associated with the pandemic, and worked closely with the local community to ensure construction had a minimal impact on residents. They even issued quarterly releases to local press to ensure the island community were kept aware of the project’s progress.

O’Mac worked to detailed specifications provided by HHP in constructing the development – which included both the homes and an open, landscaped community area – but had licence to finish the interiors and exteriors to their own exacting standards. As joinery specialists, O’Mac were especially qualified to complete the timber detailing that makes each home distinct.

The firm’s use of both innovative and traditional materials for the development previously won them a quality recognition award from Premier Guarantee.

While on-island projects of this scale are typically carried out by mainland contractors, O’Mac believe their work shows island contractors – and the local staff, sub-contractors and suppliers they used for the Goathill development – are just as capable.

HHP supported O’Mac’s entry for FMB’s award, and its Director of Operations John Maciver said the housing association “highly commend... the quality of work delivered on the project.”

“The feedback from our tenants has been universally positive and people are delighted with their new homes”, he added.

Mark Macdonald, Director of O'Mac Construction Ltd, said: “We are absolutely delighted that our project has been chosen for this award. Building on a Scottish island is difficult at the best of times, throw in a pandemic, material shortages, material price Increases and labour shortages and it made for an extremely challenging project. We are extremely proud of our team who embraced all the challenges that they were faced with, to deliver this project on time, on budget and to a high standard of finish. Winning the award and having the project acknowledged by the judges makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Gordon Nelson, FMB Scotland Director, said: “By winning this coveted award, O’Mac Construction, as an island-based contractor send a strong message out to public sector clients that local builders are best to deliver local construction projects.

"It is clear that the team at O’Mac are deep-rooted within and take pride in delivering high quality construction projects for the local community on the Isle of Lewis. My congratulations to Mark MacDonald, Stewart Hoblyn and the full team at O’Mac in delivering this new build development for the Hebridean Housing Partnership. They are worthy winners given the challenges they had to overcome, especially as building began only a few months before the pandemic struck.”

Since 1992, the Master Builder Awards has been the flagship celebration of high-quality craftsmanship, exceptional customer service and building excellence across the UK. The awards help to recognise the significant contribution that small and medium-sized (SME) construction companies make to the UK construction industry. Organised by the FMB, the awards programme provides an opportunity for Master Builders to showcase their hard work and share client testimonials. For some categories of award, clients can directly nominate their builder. There are 12 categories and the winners from each of the FMB regions and the devolved nations go through to the national finals in September.