Sustainable modular buildings for all purposes

Dan O’Brien and Liam Casey of Lidan Designs wouldn’t claim that they saw the coronavirus pandemic coming but they were confident when they set up their company in 2017 that growth in home office requirements was an international trend that was only going to accelerate.

Now, as we all learn to live with a new normal, remote working is the topic everyone is talking about, and Lidan Designs are ideally placed to reap the benefits with their rapid-build, sustainable solutions for home working, housing, community centres and many more purposes, which are all built offsite at their Roscommon factory.

Lidan Designs specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of premium wood products and structures which maximise the use of sustainable and natural material and cutting-edge design. Each of their products is hand-crafted individually by experienced joiners and carpenters, and all electrical or plumbing requirements are also catered for in their custom built premises.

Lidan Designs
Lidan Designs
Lidan Designs

The company launched at the Ideal Homes exhibition in 2017 after Dan O’Brien, who had been working with Accenture as a management consultant, had been looking for a home office and spotted a gap in the market. He partnered with Liam, who had his own joinery business. The two set out with the twin goals of developing their product and creating sustainable jobs in the West of Ireland. This year, they won recognition with the Roscommon 2020 County Enterprise Award.

Launching their product by bringing an eight-tonne unit to the Ideal Homes exhibition was an ambitious and expensive move, but the company was assisted by the Western Development Commission. “The Western Development Commission gave us an unsecured loan,” Dan says. “It was critical to us at the time. It gave us breathing space for research and development and innovation, and it allowed us to grow faster than we could have otherwise.”

All aspects of a Lidan Design structure are built offsite allowing the company to ensure factory controlled quality and efficiency while also creating highly skilled and sustainable jobs in the West of Ireland – the business currently has 10 employees. All of their products meet the nearly zero energy building (NZEB) standard as well as the Part L compliance for all new public sector buildings, which was introduced in 2019.

Dan points out that working from home requires a defined and properly designed space, so that people can switch off work and avoid an ‘always on’ situation. His experience in the world of business made him acutely aware of the pressures senior executives can come under – to the extent that companies risk losing them when they are at the height of their abilities and experience – and he believes that home working flexibility could be core to staff retention.

There is empirical proof from top universities that people who work from home are more productive, have fewer sick days, are happier and suffer less stress.

He says the international trend towards home working preceded the coronavirus pandemic and is backed up by research. “There is empirical proof from top universities that people who work from home are more productive, have fewer sick days, are happier and suffer less stress,” he says. “All of the international indicators suggest sustained growth in home working. ”

He argues that the government should embrace the trend and encourage it with serious tax incentives.

While there is clear growth opportunity in the provision of home offices, the company has also experienced demand, for larger offices, schools, housing and community centres. Aside from the private sector, their clients include the Office of Public Works, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, the Department of Education, Bus Eireann and Castle Leslie Estate.

With a mix of public and private clients, Lidan Designs is looking to the future with confidence, and that can only have been enhanced by the enthusiasm for home working that has emerged from the necessity of doing so due to the pandemic. In August 2020, a study by Amárach Research found that 86 percent of participants were interested in remote working or a mix of working at home and in the workplace. While research had already established the benefits of home working, there is no doubt that the experience of 2020 has created a huge appetite for it. “The outlook is very positive,” Dan says.

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