For a decade and a half, Secon Building Contractors have been successfully delivering unrivalled bespoke, high-end residential new build projects, with the keenest attention to detail and outstanding finishes guaranteed. Building Ireland popped into their base in Loughrea, County Galway and spoke to founder / managing director Shane Egan to find out more about this industry-leading contractor, which also has the capacity to complete exceptional commercial projects.
Established in Loughrea by Shane Egan in 2005, Secon Building Contractors quickly earned a stellar reputation as a modern construction company built on traditional values, embracing the latest architectural technology and combining it with professional management and experienced trades to invariably deliver exceptional properties which exceed client expectations.
Specialising in high-end new build residential projects across Galway and the Mid West, completed to the highest expectations of clients, architects, interior designers and engineers, the vastly-experienced team at Secon boast a strong background in carpentry and shop fitting, which dovetails perfectly with their general contracting experience, enabling them to build and fit out commercial, light industrial and office buildings from concept to turnkey completion.
Very much a hands-on director and actively involved in overseeing every contract, Shane confirms that he’s a stickler for quality, bringing the most exacting attention to detail to bear on every project undertaken. “We tend to get a lot of high-end residential work and that’s very much our bread and butter, but we don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves into that as we can also take on commercial projects,” he notes.
“It’s all about high-end finishes on the architectural-type homes, which are unforgiving and have to be perfect. You have to work to the highest possible standards – there’s no other way.”
Shane’s strong carpentry background gives him an appreciation of quality finishes and forces him to think critically and proactively about every aspect of each project undertaken. “I was a cabinet-maker by trade and I went to Letterfrack Furniture College, where we were trained to work down to less than millimetres. That’s how I was trained and those are the standards we have implemented in Secon since day one.”
Lorcan Doyle has been working as an associate of Shane Egan since 2017 and joined Secon permanently in 2019. A Quantity Surveyor, having graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management and Economics from DIT in 2006, Lorcan was head of the surveying department for a UK-based construction company working in the prime residential market in London, Oxford and The Cotswolds prior to joining Secon. He has experience of estimating, tendering, value engineering, procurement and cost control on construction projects up to €20m in value
Secon’s senior management team take a personal involvement in all work, meeting with clients regularly and always available to discuss their projects with them. They are passionate about effective collaboration across the entire construction and consultant team to achieve the best quality and value possible. This approach has enabled them to work repeatedly with prestigious design and consultant teams and to build up a strong portfolio of work.
Secon have earned such a strong reputation locally that the vast majority of their work at present is within the Galway county boundary… “We cover all of Galway and we’re currently being kept busy within those confines,” Shane confirms. “We’ve gone further afield – as far as Dublin, Limerick and Athlone – and are not averse to doing so, but obviously when the work is here closer to home, you will take it here.”
Despite the obvious challenges presented, 2020 has nevertheless been a very busy year. “We have a nice project on the pier in Bearna – an exclusive residential development of three houses in one block, one of which is a very high-spec finish for the client. This is the last stop on the pier and is in a wonderful location. We finished another spectacular home on the coast in Oranmore last year and in 2018 we did a nice 7,500 sq ft home on a 14-acre site with 400 metres of coastline in Furbo, just past Bearna.
“We tend to get awarded a lot of those high-end residentials on the coast overlooking the ocean, but we are extremely versatile and can expand into larger and medium-sized commercial when required and will tender for more of those going forward. We definitely have the skillset and experience to take on more commercial work. We’re building up our office capacity and it’s a huge asset for us to have Lorcan there as a full-time QS.”
As well as the directors, direct employment is generated for a tight crew of four, comprising two site managers and two assistant site managers, with Lorcan running the office and Shane overseeing everything on site. “They’re all hands-on, motivated and knowledgeable guys, from carpentry backgrounds, and we then use a strong group of subcontractors, too,” Shane continues. “We take on some of the groundworks ourselves but all of the electrical, plumbing, roofing, block laying and plastering are subbed out. We have a good network of men there who we can rely on for top quality workmanship. It’s not always price that we appoint them on; it’s quality that’s the main priority when bringing in subbies and knowing they are capable and able to deliver.”
Through their network of industry associates and colleagues, Secon can provide a design and build package. They work hard with their supply chain to ensure buildings achieve the best BER possible under the design parameters and possess great experience in the most modern insulating, heating and cooling systems.
Twenty-twenty has of course been a challenging year for construction, due to the restrictions and measures introduced to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Like the vast majority of us, Secon Building Contractors did not escape unscathed: “We had been awarded a €1.1m project and got to the foundation stage but then had to put it all on hold because of the disruption caused by Covid,” Shane reflects. “There is a lot of uncertainty and we had to get something else on our books quickly to replace that. We still had enough work to keep us going but we could have done with keeping that one.
“While we are generally busy in construction, it’s affecting a lot of other industries and the exact fall-out of that we can’t predict yet. The knock-on effects could be significant. People with restaurants, pubs and nightclubs get a lot of construction work done and it’ll affect us indirectly.”
To remain completely Covid-complaint on site, Secon have introduced external wash stations, induction forms and self-declaration forms. “The key thing we introduced was a buddy system where two people work together. We’ve had to restrict our canteen facilities but generally the lads are working in the open, with plenty of space and not confined.”
Going forward, Shane is confident that further growth is possible for Secon Building Contractors but stresses that he’s only interested in sustainable growth: “We hope to grow, but cautiously. We won’t jump into anything for the sake of it,” the Galway contractor concludes. “We will grow the business slowly and cautiously, and will remain risk-averse. We marked 15 years in business in October and have already came through one recession, so I know what it’s like to be on the ground during hard times.
“Whereas before that downturn we might have purchased plant as we needed it, I now analyse any large purchases or investments in detail before making a move. While there is still money out there and a huge need for housing, there’s serious uncertainty now with Brexit, what’s happening in the US and coronavirus, all of which can affect the Irish economy. Generally, though, there is still confidence there, albeit with people understandably being a bit more cautious.”
Secon Building Contractors,
Tel: 087 6896568 / 9061439
Email: [email protected]
This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, March, Vol 7 No 3