Drumahoe Primary School is celebrating a Northern Ireland first with the opening of a trendsetting log cabin schoolhouse.
The eco-friendly timber cabin is the first school building of its kind in Northern Ireland and the entire UK to be granted full building control and planning approval.
Drumahoe Primary School teamed up with local company Beaver Log Cabins to design and develop the “prototype school building”, says principal Terry McMaster.
The new school house is a bespoke design, three room log cabin with the capacity to house 24 children. The keys to the energy-efficient school building were handed to Mr McMaster by the Beaver Log Cabins’ team last Friday after a total build-time of just over two weeks.
The principal said the new Beaver log cabin schoolhouse solved a problematic capacity issue at a small fraction of the cost and time required to construct a new modular building.
He explained that the school’s Board of Governors “grasped the nettle” and began exploring the possibility of timber cabin accommodation when their after school club was effectively rendered homeless.
“Our popular breakfast and after school clubs were previously housed in a classroom but our pupil numbers increased so much that we needed the space for teaching - so we were kind of homeless really,” he said.
Mr McMaster added: “As a Board of Governors we looked at the possibilities available within our budget. We were very happy with the quality of smaller projects carried out by Beaver Log Cabins. We sought advice from the Education Authority and they were happy as long as we could achieve approval from the Planning Service and Building Control authorities. We did and here we are.
“Building control personnel said it was the first time they had come across a project like it on this scale. They were very impressed when they saw the finished article,” added Mr McMaster.
He is inviting other principals to come and see what all the fuss is about.
“As a Northern Ireland first it is a effectively a show house for us and Beaver Log Cabins. If other schools, principals or organisations want to come along and have a look at the standard of the workmanship, we’re more than happy to accommodate them.
“We’d highly recommend it in terms of specification and value for money. The build time was only over two weeks - I was completely flabbergasted. The caretaker sent me a photograph on the morning of the first day the Beaver team arrived and then sent me another at teatime - I was amazed of what had happened in one day in terms of the build process. I called the next day and quality of work and work ethic of the build team was unbelievably impressive. It’s like a giant Meccano set but finished to the highest standard.”
Trevor Watson from Beaver Log Cabins NI, which has its show site in Bridgend, Co Donegal, said the new Drumahoe PS schoolhouse was the first of many such projects for his company.
“We were delighted to have achieved not only a Northern Ireland first but a UK first with this terrific project at Drumahoe Primary School. It was a pleasure to work with the Board of Governors and Principal Terry McMaster in making their desires a reality by achieving planning and building control approval for the provision of a high-spec schoolhouse finished to the highest standard and in the most cost effective manner.”
He added: “We are already working on similar large log cabin projects for other schools and publicly-funded bodies. More and more people are becoming aware of the huge cost savings to be made in erecting high quality log cabins for uses ranging from log cabin salons and office space; to mechanic’s workshops and sales offices; to schoolhouses and even community centres.
“Our huge Gold and Bronze ranges of products are the largest on the island of Ireland and can be viewed online at www.beaverlogcabins.ie or at our show site in Bridgend, Co Donegal.”